Today’s Washington Post had what appears to be a no-brainer on the front page: “Blacks forming Rock-Solid Bloc Behind Obama”. Of course we are. We tend to vote democratic anyway, and the current GOP ticket leaves much to be desired for a liberal democratic leaning demographic that believes in merit. If it was Edwards, or Clinton instead of Obama the numbers would look the same. In an election like this there are no black independents. There are blacks who are predisposed to vote for McCain/Palin either for ideological reasons or because the GOP line is much shorter–blacks in the DNC are a dime a dozen, while blacks in the GOP are as rare as….well did you watch the Republican National Convention?

So how blacks vote isn’t really the story. The story is really about the nature of democratic discourse within black communities now that Obama has a legitimate shot. 

Now it certainly seems as if blacks are talking about politics much more often:

“All we talk about is Obama,” said Julie Griffith, the chief executive of a Houston public relations firm who attended a recent convention of black MBAs in Washington. “We talk about the campaign. We talk about Palin. We talk about a possible assassination attempt. We can talk about Obama all day.”

But, particularly in a variety of spaces from blogs, to barbershops, to talk radio, the talk about Obama has been limited to how can we help him win?

When several black protesters heckled Obama during an appearance in St. Petersburg, Fla., asking what has he had done for the black community, many African Americans expressed outrage — toward the hecklers.

“We can be black all day” after the election, said Griffith, the Houston executive. “We’ve got to get there first. Obama’s not about black issues. He’s the people’s president. We are going to do what we’re going to do. If some black people aren’t with that, I say to hell with them.”

The ideal circumstance here would be vigorous debate about what types of political benefits will blacks gain from an Obama victory. Granted, we know what we’d get from McCain/Palin. Worse than nothing. Fair enough. But that’s really only part of the picture. Particularly because as we consider bailing out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion, it appears as if in the course of making a deal that both sides could agree on, Obama tossed progressives overboard again.

“Michael Baisden and Tom [Joyner] and Tavis [Smiley] could talk about Jena all they want,” Jackson said, referring to radio and TV personalities who had pushed for large protest marches for the embattled men. “But Jena didn’t have anything to do with winning . . . what?”

“Iowa!” the audience roared back, without any dissent.

I wonder how the Jena 6 felt about that? One of the biggest criticisms of the Bush presidency is that, well, he doesn’t brook criticism. And his people impose discipline on the rank and file. 

What do we lose practically, when we do the same thing?