Here we go again! Another Republican Convention and the same old question: “Why so few blacks?”
Although there were great black speakers at the podium in Tampa, when cameras panned the floor, blacks were harder to find than a needle in a haystack.
Republicans, especially black Republicans, can be proud of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Saratoga Springs, Utah Mayor Mia Love, and former Alabama Democratic Congressman Artur Davis.
The same can be said of Florida’s Hispanic U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s first female Hispanic governor; Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz; Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval; and, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley who, like her fellow Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, is of Indian ancestry.
These outstanding leaders, and others like Reps. Allen West, R-Fla., Tim Scott, R-S.C.) and Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, were elected either statewide or come from white majority districts. Some blacks say that, since these black Republicans were elected from white majority districts, they do not push for issues impacting black people. The same can be said of Obama who has been criticized — by black Democrats — for advocating white, gay and Hispanic causes over those for blacks.
One reason for the lack of blacks in the Party is that few want to take the condemnation and ugly attacks that are heaped upon black Republicans by black Democrats and their allies in the liberal media including some black journalists.
Just watch, they will launch the same attacks on Love and Davis as they have in the past on Rice, West, Herman Cain and other black Republicans.
In fact, within hours of her speech, Love’s Wikipedia page was vandalized with racist and sexist epithets. As reported by Newsmax and other outlets, she was called "dirty, worthless" and a "sell-out" to the "right-wing hate machine." Another comment accused her of being exploited using a racial epithet.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the NAACP, N.O.W. or the Congressional Black Caucus to condemn this vicious assault. Speaking of the caucus, 14 of its members sent a letter to Davis accusing him of everything but being a traitor for switching to the GOP.
It’s sad how blacks tear down other blacks just because they have different political viewpoints. I have not heard or seen:
- Hispanic Democrats demeaning Hispanic Republicans
- Democrats of Indian ancestry calling Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley “traitors” because they are Republicans
- Jewish Democrats calling Jewish Republicans disgusting names
- Racist or ethnic jokes, cartoons or vicious comments about Hispanic or Jewish Republicans in the media.
Why? It’s because these groups are respected in the political arena. Blacks are not.
As my father once told me “if you don’t respect yourself or your own people, no one will respect you.” A good piece of advice for black Democrats as well.
That brings me to the second reason why blacks are so scarce in the GOP: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” There is no sign outside of the Republican Party saying “blacks need not apply.”
My message to blacks:
- If you want to continue having no political leverage, stay with the Democrats.
- If you want to be in a party that supports abortion on demand, partial birth abortions and Planned Parenthood where black babies are killed at what some have called “genocidal rates,” stay with the Democrats.
- If you want to be in a party that has tolerated deplorable black graduation rates; joined with teachers’ unions in fighting accountability, vouchers and choice for parents whose children are trapped in failing urban schools, stay with the Democrats.
In other words, continue to “make the Democrats’ day.”
Blacks are not alone in being responsible for the low participation in the Republican Party — the party also bears some responsibility. Black outreach, as it was practiced during the Reagan/Bush, and Bush/Cheney eras has all but disappeared. There are few, if any, “Jack Kemps” who preach inclusiveness, not just for Hispanics, but also for blacks.
Republicans should take a page out of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s playbook of inclusion and outreach as he practiced in word and deed during his terms as governor.
As black columnists and political consultant Raynard Jackson recently wrote in The Washington Post:
“. . . even more alarming than the lack of blacks as convention attendees, delegates or Mitt Romney staff members is the lack of blacks in the pipeline to be future party operatives . . . I am embarrassed at the lack of diversity at this convention. Have the Republicans not noticed the demographic changes that are taking place in this country? Numerically, there are not enough old, white, balding males to win a national election.”
All of this said, there are a little more than 60 days left for the Romney/Ryan campaign to develop a meaningful message to get at least 5 percent more black votes than McCain. If Reagan got 11 percent in 1980 against Carter in similar economic conditions — Obama’s race notwithstanding — they at least should fight for 9 or 10 percent.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as the Reagan presidential campaigns, including Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation. He was also appointed chairman of the District of Columbia Reagan-Bush Campaign and he chaired the District of Columbia Delegation to the Republican National Convention in Dallas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee — Click Here Now.
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