For at least 30 years, honest observers have been pointing out the failure of liberal policies in the inner-city neighborhoods of America. The ugly truth is that these policies have not merely failed. They have been toxic.
For the first decade or two of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program, it was possible to justify belief in its efficacy. Over time, reality shattered theory. Yet some continue what is nothing more than a grand political deception calculated to hold blacks as a captive voting block. It has worked.
The question is whether it will keep working. Ironically, it may turn out that the first black president, a Democrat and poster child for every liberal idea, may cause a historic break between Democrats and black voters. President Obama came to power like a Caesar. Long lines of the worshipful got up early or waited late to vote for their ersatz messiah.
On the night of his victory, Mr. Obama stood under Greek pillars like a god, declaring that the seas would now subside and the earth would heal. The problem is that many believed him, especially those in the black community.
However, six-and-a-half years later, by all objective measures, he is a gargantuan failure as a president: Poverty is worse, federal debt is worse, race relations are worse, income is down, our economy is limping, our national security is weak, our allies do not trust us, and our enemies do not fear us.
That's the general landscape, but how is the black community doing under this president? According to a U.S. Census Bureau Survey, the poverty rate for Americans of African descent increased by almost 3 percent under the Obama administration. Black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother have the highest rate of poverty at 47.5 percent. In February, unemployment for black Americans was 10.4 percent. The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent.
We know the president is passionate about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement, committed to sounding the alarm over climate change and determined to help illegal immigrants. We do not see a similar passion for addressing the needs of inner-city residents. Baltimore, Chicago and other cities are aflame with street violence that is killing young men at a staggering rate. Mr. Obama's hometown of Chicago is one of the most violent cities in the world. Poor sections of Los Angeles are war zones. Granted, he and Michelle have mastered the rhetoric of racial grievance, but whining about how they have been followed in department stores or been mistaken for "the help" does not constitute a plan to address urban despair. Stoking the fires of racial division does nothing to bring prosperity to the black community. In fact, the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore only serve to suppress economic activity in the communities that need it most.
The president has had six-and-a-half years to address the problems of urban poverty, violence and educational dysfunction. He still has no plan to do so. Moreover, the policies he does support hurt rather than help. He is a vehement opponent of parental choice in the inner city, which would give parents the ability to choose better schools for their children. He has pushed poverty programs instead of pushing for economic development. He has proposed benefits for illegal immigrants who compete for entry-level jobs and replace black workers in construction, hospitality and other sectors of the economy. The rampant gangs, drugs and violence have earned Chicago the sobriquet "Chiraq" - a testament to his complete disregard of the thousands of lives lost in black-on-black crime. Apparently, a black life only matters when racism is the alleged motive for the killing.
We need a private-sector plan to bring cultural renewal, economic revitalization and educational opportunity to the black community. The president has bragged about having a pen and a phone. He should use the presidential hotline to call Google, Apple, GE and his many CEO and Hollywood millionaire and billionaire friends. They need to put their capitalist money where their collectivist mouths are. He has the influence to persuade them to "invest" - one of the president's favorite words - in the inner city.
If past performance is any indication of future behavior, Mr. Obama will do nothing. Black voters in these troubled communities may rejoice at the first black president, but they will have to look elsewhere for leadership to address their plight. The Obamas sip wine with Al Sharpton in the White House while his devoted but poor black supporters wait in the outhouse.
The stench of betrayal is breaking the Obama spell. Black pastors across the country are realizing that they and their congregants have been disregarded and disrespected by this president on every level - economically, politically and spiritually. The Great Emancipator was right: "You cannot fool all of the people all of the time." The grand deception that has held the black community in its grip for half a century is coming to an end.
This column originally appeared in the Washington Times.