As the saying goes, "Democrats fall in love with their candidate, Republicans fall in line."
As the 2012 presidential race heats up and the Republicans finally and painfully choose their nominee, the statement above certainly rings true.
We can expect a massive, highly organized and well-funded Republican effort to coalesce behind their candidate to defeat the President and increase control in both Houses of Congress.
In 2008, millions of Americans - including 95 percent of African-American voters -- rallied around then-candidate Barack Obama and helped make history. He will need no less support in 2012.
While it certainly hasn't been all roses for President Obama, Democrats and African-Americans the last four years, I believe all Democrats and many Independents will get behind President Obama as much if not more than 2008 and re-elect him to four more years.
For many of us -- particularly African Americans -- we're going to have to ask ourselves what kind of country do we want? Who do we want to be as a nation? How do we progress rather than regress?
Are we going to settle for a country where just a few super rich do extremely well? Or do we rebuild this nation into a place where everybody has a fair shot and everyone plays by the same rules?
Our generation stands on the shoulders of our ancestors and elders who overcame slavery, risked their lives to cast a ballot and even gave their lives to ensure this country lived up to its founding principles.
The stakes are high. We must rally around the President.
When you hear Tea Party Republicans say they want to "take the country back" -- believe them. They promise to literally take us back to the 1950s and some even seemingly back to the 1850s.
If you don't believe me, just ponder:
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, like his beloved idol Ronald Reagan, wants to take us back to the grand old days of the "Southern Strategy." He campaigns on worn out, overused rhetoric - opining that poor, inner city children should be cleaning toilets and President Barack Obama is a "food stamp president."
Talking about Medicaid in Iowa earlier this year, his fellow Republican candidate Rick Santorum said: "I don't want to make Black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money."
Populist candidate Ron Paul went to the South Carolina statehouse to talk states' rights while perennial frontrunner Mitt Romney keeps telling us how rich he is and how he would repeal President Obama's Affordable Care Act -- never mind that the health care law represents the most significant federal effort in 50 years to reduce health disparities and improve the health of underserved communities.
But the problem for America goes much deeper than Republicans rhetorically using Blacks as scapegoats to attract rabid Republican Tea Party votes.
The recent attack on a woman's right to control her own health care raises the specter of a loss of rights for all Americans, including African Americans.
If we allow Republicans to turn back the clock and elect a Tea Party president, we can expect more policies that defund public education and dismantle Social Security and Medicare -- crumbling the pillars that have helped all Americans remain the middle class.
If a Tea Party Republican president is elected and appoints more activist justices, decisions like Kelo vs. the City of New London, which enshrined into law the reverse Robin Hood principle that it's OK to take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich -- and Citizens United that allows the super rich and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy U.S. elections -- would become just the tip of the iceberg.
And all this is swirling while Republican voter suppression tactics across the country such as voter IDs, end to same-day registration, cuts to early voting and measures making it harder to register large groups of voters are threatening our Constitutional right to vote.
No president is able to address every community on every single issue. But if we stop for a minute and realize how far we've come in the last four years with health care reform, Wall Street reform, saving the economy and the auto industry and boosting Pell grants to name but a few -- then African Americans, Democrats and independents will be reminded that there is a candidate we cannot only fall in line with but truly love -- and that's President Barack Obama.
Follow Rep. Hank Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RepHankJohnson