If George W. Bush was known for anything in his outreach to the African American community was that he knew how to exploit wedge issues at the expense of poor Black voters who got nothing in return.

Bush and his team were notable for galvanizing some Black ministers across the country and use them at their own expense in their own community.

What for?

To ensure that these Black preachers are advising their congregation members to strictly abide by the Republican moral code: its opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Nothing else.

Since this opposition fits within the Christian perspective the Black preachers who aligned themselves with Bush were the new self-appointed negotiators for the Black vote. Bush exploited gay marriage and abortion at their expense while offering no real economic policy to uplift the lives of most poor Black voters.

And so the moral challengers are back in Detroit in the midst of an intense presidential election. So far there are two billboards displayed in prominent parts of the city. One billboard sits above Woodward Ave and Warren in the Wayne State University corridor, and the other on East Jefferson both urging Black voters to remember that President Obama supports gay marriage and abortion. They are urging Black Christian voters to vote their faith.

In essence they are urging Black voters to support Republican Gov Mitt Romney for president. Since these moral challengers always act like they have ownership over Jesus Christ, its hard to imagine what else they are telling Black voters in some churches across Detroit.

Don’t get me wrong. You have every right to be concerned about moral issues.

However, keep an open mind because equally true is the fact that you should also be concerned about which president will help put food on the table for your families.

You should be concerned about which president will grant educational opportunities to your children.

So while you are pondering or somewhat conflicted about the president’s support for gay marriage and abortion- underscoring how the right to choose is important- because we don’t live in a theocracy, think about which economic policies will help uplift your living conditions.

If you think that voting strictly on moral ground is a winning ballot, you will be seriously mistaken.

The interest of Black voters go beyond gay marriage and abortion.

Aren’t Black voters concerned about the state of the economy, foreclosure crisis, health insurance, escalating gas prices, small business development, protecting civil and voting rights, educational opportunities? These are all issues that have bigger impact on the life of African Americans.

It’s bigger than gay marriage and abortion. Look at the big picture. Don’t fall for the trick.

Vote your conscience on the life and death issues. Vote on what matters to your socioeconomic and political advancement.

Bankole Thompson is a Senior Author-in-Residence at Global Mark Makers Publishing House in Iowa where he is writing a groundbreaking six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book “Obama and Black Loyalty” published in 2010 follows his recent book “Obama and Christian Loyalty” with a foreword by Bob Weiner former White House spokesman. His forthcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and “Obama and Business Loyalty.” He is the first editor of a major African American newspaper to have a series of sit-down interviews with Barack Obama. Thompson is also a Senior Political News Analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit (NPR Affiliate) and a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening round table on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut. 

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