I have been privileged to live the American Dream. Born in Trinidad, West Indies, I immigrated with my parents to this country at the age of eight. My family came here in search of a better life, and we were rewarded far beyond our wildest hopes. As a young woman, I joined the United States Navy as an enlisted jet mechanic, retired after 20 years as a lieutenant commander aviation maintenance officer and later, I began my own business. Two years ago, I was elected the first female and first Black lieutenant governor of Florida. I’ve been blessed to enjoy freedoms and opportunities that people, especially women in other countries, can only dream. America has kept its promise to me and to so many of my fellow citizens who have worked hard and whose lives have been improved by the formidable power of possibility.
President Obama, on the other hand, has not kept his promises to the American people. When he ran for office four years ago, he pledged to transform Washington. He said he would create good jobs and unlock the gates of economic opportunity. There is little doubt that he assumed office at a time when great challenges confronted our nation. But his tenure in the White House has improved neither our circumstances nor our spirits.
Across the country, 23 million Americans are still struggling to find jobs. The middle class has shrunk and is finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. Families have lost their homes, closed businesses, seen their personal savings depleted away and slipping into poverty.
Nowhere are these realities more pronounced than in the Black community. Black Americans have taken a devastating and disproportional hit in the Obama economy. At a moment when one in six Americans is living in poverty, among Blacks, one in four shares that fate. At a moment when the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, for the Black community, it’s a stunningly unacceptable rate of 14.1 percent.
We cannot accept another four years of the same; I believe we should expect, want and demand more for ourselves and our families.
I believe Obama’s ideology leads him to view things differently. His faith in more government as the solution to our problems remains unshaken. His nearly one trillion dollar “stimulus” personifies the folly of his approach. He passed this legislation to create jobs, predicting it would lower unemployment. This prediction has not been met by any measure — if it had, we’d have an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent today. For all the president’s criticisms of top-down economics, what could be more top-down than the government squandering taxpayer dollars on “investments” such as the now-bankrupt Solyndra? If the issue was to save homes, create jobs, lower unemployment and give people money, then consider this option Obama could have taken. Over $500 million dollars was given to Solyndra before they went bankrupt. There are a little over 300 million people living in America. Had each American been given $1 million dollars, the government would still have money left over and all individual debt could have been erased. So, given this scenario, it shows the Obama administration did not really want to create a fix that would directly help and empower the American people.
A good leader changes his course when it becomes clear that his present path is nothing more than a dead end. But Obama’s plans for a second term include pursuing more of the same failed policies of higher taxes, more spending and more regulations. And instead of making the case that the American people are better off than they were four years ago, Obama seeks to convince us that it could be worse.
Obama’s election was historic for Black Americans and for America, it cannot be erased from the history books, but that doesn’t give the end results of his policies — increased homelessness, increased debt, unemployment of over 14%, Black youth unemployment over 30%, failing schools in urban communities, 40% drop out rates and high crime rates in urban areas, just to name a few — a free pass.
Both sides of the political spectrum agree that this election could not be more consequential. This November, we will be casting a critical vote on the future of the American Dream. And there is a qualified candidate in this race, Mitt Romney, who has the proven record of creating private sector jobs and turning around troubled situations. We gave President Obama a chance, but his record gives us no reason to rehire him.
Jennifer Carroll is the Republican Lieutenant Governor of the State of Florida.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: SCOTT KEELER)