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Why I am Supporting George W. Bush Again


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Why I am Supporting George W. Bush Again

By Harry C. Alford

Four years ago I had a very hard decision to make.  My being President and CEO of the largest Black business association in the world forced me to publicly and personally support a candidate for President.  I sent out a "Request for Leadership" to each candidate asking why should an African American entrepreneur support their candidacy.  Bill Bradley, Steve Forbes, John McCain and George W. Bush provided strong arguments.  Al Gore made it pretty simple - he sent nothing.  That plus much personal observance of a laissez faire attitude towards African Americans by Mr. Gore made it clear that he should not even be considered.

Under the Clinton/Gore administrations small business, particularly minority business and most significantly Black owned business suffered miserably.  Fortune 1000 corporations doing business with the federal government were let off the "hook" in terms of small business subcontracting.  Bundling of contracts for the mega businesses became the charge of Al Gore.  The key indicator of minority business at the federal government is the 8a contracting activity.  8a businesses started losing business by a $1 billion per year.  From $8 billion to $7 billion to $6 billion and finally bottoming out in year 2000 at $5 billion and Black owned businesses were the biggest losers.  The Small and Disadvantaged Business program (SDB) was expunged from the Department of Defense - devastating!

Black cabinet members of that administration were no help.  Even Executive Order 11246 which was the first civil rights initiative from a president (Kennedy) was cancelled by Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater with approval from Labor Secretary Alexis Herman.  He even started granting waivers to State Highway Administrations allowing them to decrease their affirmative action goals (employment and contracting).  This was all done with the blessing of some major civil rights groups and key Black congressional leaders.  Highway construction for Black business went from 6% to 5% to 4% to 3% to 2% and bottoming to 1% by year 2000.  HUD slammed its doors shut on minority business and housing residents were denied their rights to employment via Section 3 of the HUD Act.  The Departments of Energy, Defense, Education and all the rest went on a big "holiday" to the demise of minority business and job creation in urban communities.

It was the worst of times for my constituents.  My "relatives" in Africa endured no better.  HIV-Aids was rampant, genocide popping up all over the Continent and President Clinton's celebrated tour of Africa was one gigantic party. 

No way would I support Gore.  The other candidates explained their plans well but with George W. Bush I saw that besides the sincerity he actually understood business, small business in fact.  He explained his game plan and put timelines with it.  I was convinced and stepped forward.  For the first time in my life, I supported a Republican for the Presidency of the United States.

Four years have passed and I feel great!  The 8a volume through the efforts of dedicated folks at the SBA has bounced back.  In fact, this year will surpass an all time record of $10 billion+.  The SBA lending programs will also break records for guaranteed loans to small businesses and an annual growth for African American businesses at 28%+.  Fortune 1000 corporations have found new religion as their performance is now scrutinized and rated.  HUD does more than 60% of its total business with small business owners. Minorities, particularly Black and Hispanic, are receiving contracts in record numbers.  I guess the fact that when 40% of the federal budget is literally in the "hands" of well qualified African American presidential appointees good things tend to happen.  Even Defense, State and Energy have turned it around by putting committed people at the "switches".  Imagine being able to see Defense Secretary Rumsfeld upon request during these times - his predecessor, Cohen, refused to meet with minority business groups.

Tax relief has been greatly welcomed by small business.  Business start up is at a frenzy.  We are pushing healthcare through the Senate Small Business committee with the help of the White House and despite the efforts of John Kerry (minority leader of the committee).  Education is receiving the proper attention it deserves (pop quiz - who was Secretary Paige's predecessor?)

Africa is now receiving funding via unprecedented HIV-AIDS relief, Millennium Challenge Accounts and the very helpful Africa Growth and Opportunity Acts (AGOA, signed 3 times by President Bush).  In fact, through the White House efforts more than 150,000 new jobs have popped up in Africa and at least $437 million in business growth will be realized this year.  One of our members in Ghana will hit $70 million in sales this year directly related to AGOA.

In sum, I made a decision four years ago and put my name and reputation on the line.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made.  African Americans and Africans, whether they realize it or not, have made significant economic gains. The numbers are there and irrefutable.  The doors have swung open and there is access whenever needed.  As an African American, veteran and child of the '60's, I am deeply appreciative of the courage and wisdom of George W. Bush.  When I consider the progress and what the alternatives might have been, I thank God.

George W. Bush is my man.  Again!

Mr. Alford is President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. at  www.nationalbcc.org. Also travel to the Black Information Highway at www.blackinformationhighway.com to download this article.


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