Ever since President-elect Barack Obama did not personally deliver a handwritten invitation to his inauguration, Cornel West seems to have been on a personal mission to vilify and insult him at every possible opportunity. While it is Dr. West’s right to say whatever he wants, with rights come responsibility. And by that measure Cornel West has been wildly irresponsible with a dash of hypocrisy thrown in for good measure.
Cornel West, who is clearly a legend in his own mind, has taken it upon himself to label President Obama “a lap dog of Wall Street” and has excoriated him for not being a “revolutionary” and his failure to fully and completely address all of the issues, challenges and problems of the national black community. When queried on the subject he has called Mitt Romney a “catastrophic” choice for a catastrophic time while, in his view, President Obama is a “disastrous” choice for a catastrophic time.
Clearly Cornel West has not bathed in the cold waters of logic or common sense in a long time. It is simply impossible to believe that a presumably well educated professor like Dr. West (he has taught at Harvard, Princeton and currently Union Theological Seminary) could look at Barack Obama’s past statements or the themes and policies of his presidential campaign and that he was the forerunner of some great revolution that was going to commence on January 20, 2009.
While it is clear that a divinity degree does not equip Dr. West to be some kind of sociopolitical expert, since he keeps opining on such subjects he has to be held accountable. The history of American electoral politics has been decidedly reformist with gradual movements to the right and the left. Reform is characterized by gradual change while revolution promises to be immediate.
The United States has never elected a “revolutionary” candidate and it is absurd for anyone to think that the election of Barack Obama was the beginning of a twenty first revolution in this country. And it is dishonest for Dr. West to criticize President Obama because this country has not been reinvented for the better in the three years of his presidency.
Again, Cornel West is entitled to his opinions and he has a perfect right to free speech. However, because he is a noted public figure who speaks around the country for fees ranging from $30,000 – $50,000 per appearance, he has the responsibility of being aware of the effects that his reckless speech may cause.
There are some people in the national black community who will actually listen to and believe Dr. West. It is a natural human instinct to search for the cause(s) of dismay and misery and for some, President Obama makes a useful target. And, giving even a few people a reason for not voting for President Obama could make the difference between him getting a second term and the beginning of a Romney Administration complete with a boatload of Tea Party baggage.
I have written before that there is no way that Dr. Cornel West is going to destroy the support of the black community for Barack Obama. What he can do, however, is corrode and erode small portions of his support in communities across this country, lessening Barack Obama’s vote count just enough to lose so-called battleground states – states that can make the difference between victory and defeat.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the election of Mitt Romney coupled with his support of the draconian Ryan budget agenda will wreak havoc on poor and middle income families. The election of Mitt Romney will place incredible burdens on the national black community and one would think that Cornel West has to know this.
Of course, whether it’s a Obama or a Romney victory, Cornel West will still be able to charge $30,000-$50,000 per speaking engagement, raking in millions of dollars by virtue of his bombast and celebrity, but not because he is providing some useful and constructive ideas and perspectives.
Cornel West will continue to make cameo appearances at the 2013 and 2014 versions of Occupy Wall Street, claiming to speak for oppressed people. Incredibly, he will continue pull off this act with a straight face while making millions of dollars doing it.
But I wonder how Dr. West will sleep on his 5000 thread count sheets knowing that is misguided and destructive rhetoric contributed in some small way to the defeat of Barack Obama and the election of Mitt Romney. What will he say to the women whose healthcare services will be reduced and eliminated? What will he say to the college students who will be denied federal loans to gain the kind of education that he has? What will he say to the residents of communities whose social service benefits will be pared down to the barest minimum? What will he say to the sick and the elderly and to the helpless and the homeless?
And in the quietest of moments before dawn, what will he say to himself?