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Payback Time

Nov 19, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 10 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Over at The Root, the Washington Post’s online section providing “commentary from an African-American perspective,” columnist Keith Harriston reminds President Obama that black support for his reelection was unwavering. “We understand a broad coalition elected you president both terms, not just us. But we have had your back at a rate much higher than other slices of your coalition, and you know it,” he writes. And so Harriston asks, “how about some payback?”

He goes on,

This is not an unreasonable request. Just ask women, gays and immigrants.

For women, your first day in office you signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Later came your birth control mandate that guarantees women access to free contraceptives.

For gays, you announced on ABC your support for same-sex marriage.

For immigrants, you stopped deporting younger undocumented immigrants​—​most of them Latino​—​and began granting work permits for some of them.

Noticeably missing from the list is any demonstrable policy change​—​or change of mind​—​aimed squarely at the black members of your coalition. Some of your black supporters raised that issue even as they celebrated your victory on Election Night and the morning after.

Is Harriston wrong to think in these terms? Or is this exactly how the Obama campaign secured reelection​—​with something for everyone (in the winning coalition)? It’s a far cry from President Kennedy’s plea to “Ask not what your country can do for you​—​ask what you can do for your country.”

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