[Ed. Note: Every October, the SUN celebrates the memory of our SUN Publisher and Founder J. Whyatt Mondesire featuring some of Jerry’s FreedomQuest commentaries that provide his unique and provocative opinions on subjects from politics to entertainment.]
By J. Whyatt Mondesire
[Published on October 11, 2010]
Yeah, yeah. I know a lot of you are shaking your heads.
That headline is a bit noisy. A “bit over the top” you might even say.
But…hey. What’s a fellow to do when he has to compete for a few nano-seconds of your attention when you’re glued to TV or switched to an ipod, a Blackberry or video game? Thanks to the Glenn Becks, Rush Limbaughs and the virtual death of radio news programming, rational political dialogue in this country is all but extinct. Shouting heads spewing radical messages permeate every political conversation today. Once respected news broadcasters these days routinely relay outrageous messages from an assortment of bloggers without first establishing their credibility.
Since it’s less than month a before election Day—Nov. 2—I had to say something to get you to pay attention.
Please don’t view this effort to gain your attention as scolding. We are in this mess together. Unless we jointly face the impending reality that the two leading GOP candidates in Pennsylvania do in fact represent a serious threat to the health and welfare of many millions of us, we risk losing what we started in the historic election of 2008.
“On November 2nd we face another test—and the stakes could not be higher,” exhorted President Obama at a rally just a few days ago.
To be precise, these Keystone State Republicans won’t actually kill Black people if they win. Rather it is the policies and practices they have already endorsed which will contribute to the tens of thousands of pre-mature deaths of African-Americans in this country every year.
If like me, you believe that extending medical coverage to the poor and near poor will save lives, then you’ll recognize that a Republican victory will mean more business for your neighborhood undertaker.
Statistical data from the American Medical Association and US Census already have underscored how many Blacks die prematurely every year. Lack of adequate medical insurance, affordable care and reasonably priced prescriptions are the culprits of the popular consensus.
Appreciating how things got this bad is not easy. The culprits behind such gargantuan social trends are seldom captured on the evening news. Well, this time we do know who might be responsible for the sickening of America when we have two GOP candidates who have openly vowed to repeal the Democrats’ health care reform bill that for the first time seeks to protect the lives of the 30-40 million Americans who don’t have health coverage.
A few months ago Attorney General Tom Corbett joined a legal strategy led by ultra-right ringers (mostly in the South and far West) that asks the courts to overturn the federal healthcare reform package pushed by President Obama and reluctantly approved by Congress. When the Pennsylvania NAACP asked him to reconsider his position, Corbett rebuffed taking the calls he had accepted up until that point.
Meanwhile, Pat Toomey has vowed to halt President Obama’s “radical agenda.”
Black and White health disparities
The Commonwealth’s two leading Republican standard-bearers are not playing games so there is no sense playing soft with them. Nov. 2nd may not be the “most important election of the century” but it is shaping up as one of the meanest. And, we at the SUN are not afraid to call out the enemy as we see fit.
By now the nation’s health disparities along racial lines should be familiar. But in case you haven’t paid attention, here are just a few of the scary facts that the president’s reforms are seeking to address:
• Life expectancy is directly attributable to race. Today, an affluent White woman has a 14-year edge on a low income Black man. Put another way, a White woman of means can expect to live to be 81.1 years of age; while a low income Black male can expect to die before his 70th birthday (66.9).
• Medical treatment, diet, exposure to unsafe living conditions, type of medical insurance, smoking and education all are believed to have some effect on this gap, but there is no disagreement that a return to the time before we began to achieve universal medical coverage will only contribute to even higher morbidity among African-Americans.
• Nearly 39 percent of African-American children 6-19 years of age are overweight or obese according to the American Medical Association’s Journal, which also found that Black children are far more susceptible to developing diabetes because of weight and eating disorders.
• In Philadelphia, the number of obese children is double the number for White youth.
• Rates for asthma and exposure to lead based paint are also three and four times higher for Black youth than Whites.
• And the rates of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, especially among young Blacks, border on epidemic proportions found in Third World countries.
Already a few vital changes have already taken place as the result of the President’s health care forms, namely, that nearly 145,000 Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage; tax credits became available for more than 900,000 state residents; and 151,000 small businesses in the Commonwealth started to see real help through the small business tax credits.
Depending on discontent
Toomey and Corbett don’t actually expect any sizable share of the African-American or Latino vote. Their hopes for victory are pinned on the notion that people of color are so discontented by the president’s current record of more style than substance that they will not be prompted to show up at the polls.
We’ve given the GOP some real evidence they can measure.
Last year in a historic race to elect the first African American District Attorney in the city’s history, less than 20 percent of the electorate bothered to show up. And Black turnout, especially among younger voters, hovered around 15 percent.
Anemic turnout doesn’t even come close to describing what happened. In a city where Democrats enjoy a 700 percent registration edge, R. Seth Williams could have lost against a lackluster Republican opponent.
This year a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center offers little if any comfort. That survey showed just 32 percent of all Latino registered voters said they had given this year’s election “quite a lot” of thought compared with 50 percent of all registered voters. What’s more, only 51 percent of Latino registered voters say they would absolutely go to the polls, compared with 70 percent of all registered voters.
They’re counting on more of us being in the line to buy lottery tickets than lining up at our voting booths. Victory for the GOP is predicated on the margin of discontent in black and brown communities across America.
Some pundits have labeled it the “enthusiasm gap,” i.e. Republicans are more energized because of their anger at the President’s policies.
Disconnected Democrats. According to these soothsayers, will stay home because they expected more from the administration in 20 months.
Again, the President said it best a few days ago: “They’re (GOP) counting on amnesia. They think you all forgot…They took us from a surplus when a Democrat was in charge to big deficits when they were in charge…We cannot sit this out. We can’t let this country fall backwards. The stakes are too high.”
Abstention is not an option this election day. If you stay home Nov. 2nd make sure your mourning clothes still fit.