Without question, Stephen A. Smith is one of the most popular and indeed almost iconic sports broadcasters on the air today, with not only his radio show and guest TV appearances to tout but also the success of the First Take morning sports show that Smith co-hosts on ESPN 2 with Skip Bayless. And certainly all of this success has been celebrated and acknowledged by the recent extension and enhancement of his ESPN contract by that network as a recognition of Smith's work and success.
And we honor that and I am delighted to praise Smith's work and to acknowledge and honor him as one of America's most respected and sought after sports commentators. May his success continue.
But we all have our areas of specific and recognized expertise, and to that end it is always advisable to maximize our credibility and stature within our area of expertise as we are then subject to far less questioning and challenges than when we venture outside of that area -- as opposed to efforts we make to broaden our horizons and expand our sphere of knowledge about all subjects of the world and of life.
But in the arena of asserting our expertise in other areas outside of the recognized areas we have established that expertise in, one must expect some direct harsh response and criticism if in venturing into these other areas we expose the lack of expertise we have in those areas to begin with.
Last weekend, Stephen A. Smith was a guest commentator on a CNN Saturday morning show segment hosted by Michael Smerconish, and in that segment, Smerconish was highlighting Smith's recent editorial assertions that, one, "every African-American should vote Republican at least once," and two, that the problem is that "Democrats take us for granted and Republicans should point that out and tell us what they can do instead."
Even without the corresponding commentary and response that I will provide, the mere assertion of those points by Stephen A. Smith reaffirms the "stick to sports" advice without the pre-requisite elaborative response, and most thinking and intelligent members of the African-American community and those in the mainstream White community for that matter would immediately understand that timely advice to Stephen A. given the assertions he was making.
First, NO Stephen A., African-Americans cannot vote for Republicans just once because we simply can't take that chance. We already know what they will do when they win because we have seen it time after time and election after election.
Do you think elections are a game sir? Do you think they are experiments to try different things and just hope that they will work out. Even if we had an unknown playing field of knowledge and experience with both parties it would still be a great risk to go with the Republicans because they have a base that will never allow even their more moderate leaders to move in a more progressive and tolerant direction to see that ALL Americans have a fair shake for justice and economic opportunity and protection of civil rights and liberties.
But in our experience in American politics over the last 50 years, we DO have a track record and a body of experience to draw on in evaluating the two major parties in this regard, and the fact is, Republicans actually consistently solicit the Black and Hispanic vote in the primary and general election campaigns, and then when they win without getting that vote, what do they do?
Happens every time. First, they eliminate any commissions or boards set up to address racial and economic inequality in the guise of "reducing government spending." Then what do they do? They cut out school lunch programs and take computers out of the schools and eliminate sports and after-school music and other activities that somehow only affect students in the urban areas because the outlying areas have a tax base to enable them to replace whatever they lose from federal funding.
Next, Republicans try to roll back any existing federal laws and executive orders in place that specifically address civil rights violations from the past, often counting on conservative courts to support rolling back these laws with the argument that the problems that caused these laws originally no longer exist -- in other words, everything is fine now.
And of course, despite what they may have asserted in the campaign, once in office, the Republicans make clear their real notion of immigration reform is to put a Robocop every 100 feet at the border, and the only real reform they want is less paperwork to fill out when people are being deported.
Next, Republicans then attempt to decrease the budget by cutting all the agencies and funding for more recently passed laws that were directed to benefit minorities and create a more economically equitable environment for minorities to make advances.
And of course, while these activities are taking place, department heads and cabinet secretaries and other top administration officials are all replaced, and the new group looks "nothing like us" as another example of reaching out.
Meanwhile, the major effort that is being pushed by the newly sworn-in Republican officials is a tax cut that you can bet is designed to start the benefits at the top (where all the bail out money went), and if we are lucky, somehow some of it might be allowed to trickle down to the middle classes and maybe a dollar or two to the poor.
That, Stephen A Smith, is the scenario and we see it time and time again. The ONLY difference is that now Republicans try to disguise this game plan by having their national candidate attend the annual NAACP Convention and by actively soliciting the African-American and minority vote by telling Blacks and Hispanics that the "Democrats are taking us for granted" and then hoping they can fool us with that just to help them get elected. And yes Stephen A. -- it certainly worked on you as you have been fooled.
Go back the last 50 years. Which presidents have done the most or anything significant to truly benefit African-Americans and minorities? Just to keep things simple, here are the answers: Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, the nation's first African- American president. And what do these presidents all have in common? They're ALL Democrats! Yes, I will take that chance and vote for that track record and that body of experience and NO, I will not take a chance, not even once, on a different direction when we already know the outcome and results of going down that route.
And Stephen A. Smith's second point is one that has grated with me for a long time as, admittedly, Smith is not the first person to assert this -- the point that "Democrats take the Black vote for granted and take Blacks for granted when they are in office." Thank God Stephen A. Smith can at least assert that he is an expert in Sports commentary, because some others taking this position have nothing to fall back on.
Think of this for a moment. Over the last several decades, the positions the Democratic Party has taken on so many issues and matters of importance to the African-American community, and the Hispanic community as well, have cost the Democrats significant percentages of the vote in virtually every white and religious component of the old Roosevelt coalition that it would have been just plain stupid for the Democratic Party to alienate blue collar workers in the north, Catholics, poor Whites, social conservatives in the South, fundamentalists and white male workers in the rust belt and the factories and then just take Blacks for granted and not at least shore up that one constituency since you're alienating everyone else in order to please that particular group.
And the most insulting aspect of all to me when I hear that assertion by Stephen A. Smith and others about Democrats "taking Blacks for granted": there have been on average approximately 42 members consistently of the Congressional Black Caucus since its formation in 1976, and except for just these last two election rounds, ALL of these elected officials have been Black Democrats.
These African-American elected Congressional members represent some 85% of the entire Black population of America! Do you really think that all of these millions and millions of African-American voters would be in their entirety stupid enough to just vote year after year after year for candidates who didn't do anything for them and who belonged to a Party that took ALL OF THEM for granted and only gave lip service to their priorities and issues? Of course not, and it's an abject insult to all of those elected officials to suggest this absurdity.
Furthermore, African-Americans now have such entrenched power within the Democratic Party because of building that power base up over the years that the Democratic Party today couldn't take Blacks for "granted" even if it wanted to.
No, we don't need Republicans to tell us what they will do if we vote for them or particularly if they are elected -- we already know -- only too well.
Stephen A Smith, you're great and you're going to continue to be a great sports commentator for many years to come. After all, that's your calling. But when the phone rings for political commentary, don't answer -- it's a wrong number!
Carl Jeffers is a Los Angeles based columnist, TV political analyst, radio commentator, and a national lecturer and bsuiness consultant. Jeffers is President of Intelli Marketing Associates. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org