Mitch McConnell Has Two Things in Common with Barack Obama
You have to hand it to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. One tries to tangle with him at one’s peril.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday invoked an unlikely ally while defending his opposition to reparations for slavery: former President Barack Obama.
“When asked whether his views on reparations had changed in light of an NBC report that two of his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners, McConnell compared his views to those of Obama, who also opposed the idea.
“I find myself once again in the same position as President Obama,’ McConnell told reporters. ‘We both oppose reparations. We both are the descendants of slave owners.”
“In 2007, genealogists reported that Obama, whose black father was Kenyan and whose white mother was from Kansas, had slave-owning ancestors on his maternal side.”
“Last month, McConnell said he did not think reparations were a ‘good idea,’ noting that no one currently alive is responsible for slavery. His remarks on reparations come as the issue has gained more attention in the House and on the 2020 campaign trail.”
The revelation that McConnell had slave owners in his family tree was a clear attempt to shame him into supporting the concept of reparations, an idea that African Americans are owed money in return for America’s history of slavery. McConnell deftly turned the tables on his accusers by pointing out the two things he had in common with former President Barack Obama, still a revered figure in the Democratic Party despite the various failures and scandals that featured in his administration.
It should be noted that in an interview in the Atlantic, Obama’s opposition to reparations stemmed more from the idea’s impracticability than any belief that it was not morally right.
“Theoretically, you can make, obviously, a powerful argument that centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination are the primary cause for all those gaps. That those were wrongs done to the black community as a whole, and black families specifically, and that in order to close that gap, a society has a moral obligation to make a large, aggressive investment, even if it’s not in the form of individual reparations checks, but in the form of a Marshall Plan, in order to close those gaps. It is easy to make that theoretical argument.
But as a practical matter, it is hard to think of any society in human history in which a majority population has said that as a consequence of historic wrongs, we are now going to take a big chunk of the nation’s resources over a long period of time to make that right…”
“And what makes America complicated as well is the degree to which this is not just a black/white society, and it is becoming less so every year. So how do Latinos feel if there’s a big investment just in the African American community, and they’re looking around and saying, ‘We’re poor as well. What kind of help are we getting?’ Or Asian Americans who say, ‘Look, I’m a first-generation immigrant, and clearly, I didn’t have anything to do with what was taking place.”
Obama, with great insight, put his finger on why reparations would not only be impossible to implement but also impossible to pass. He decorously did not mention the complication that more and more Americans, like him, are of mixed-race ancestry. Would someone with a black parent and a white parent write a check to himself or herself?
One might also argue that past efforts to help the African American community, the Great Society comes to mind, had the unintended consequences of breaking up black families, making a host of social ills including poverty, crime, and lack of education worse and not better.
The House Democrats, who are now playing with the concept of reparations, are really wasting time and effort, a message Mitch McConnell was trying to impart. Conservatives have offered a host of better solutions, including enterprise zones and school vouchers, to the problems that former President Obama discussed.
Needless to say, the idea being offered by Democrats of opening the borders would devastate Americans, including African Americans, who are on the bottom rung of the economic ladder. A flood of low skilled workers would jerk that ladder out from under Americans who are still struggling.
In the meantime, President Trump, considered as racist by his enemies, is rightly boasting about the decline in African American unemployment. Perhaps the billionaire businessman has more of a clue about how jobs are created than professional politicians.