Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Join the GOP? No Thank You
TransGriot Note: I wrote this as a rebuttal to an African-American Republican
As a life long African-American Democrat I was amused by Felicia Benamon’s GOP talking point filled essay that completely misses the mark on why 90% of African-Americans are committed members of the Democratic Party.
I have to wonder what alternate universe Ms. Benamon lives in when she states that the GOP is a party of inclusion. Yes, it surely is. It includes rich white men, poor white men, gay white men, bigoted white men, conservative white men, fundamentalist Christian white men...Well, you get the picture. The only Black people I see flocking to the GOP are ministers who are rushing to get their faith based hush money so they can build bigger church sanctuaries, opportunistic party-switching sellouts like J. Kenneth Blackwell and radical out of touch people like Clarence Thomas and Janice Rogers Brown.
I’m reminded of the quote of a longtime Democratic county chair from Oklahoma, the late Julius Caesar Watts, Sr. (the father of former GOP Rep JC Watts)
"Black people voting for Republicans is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders."
The GOP hasn't done jack to earn my vote and won't even compete for it. They spend more time and money trying to suppress my vote instead of making the fundamental policy changes that it will take to get me to support its candidates.
Far from ignoring our community, the Democratic Party embraces it. African-Americans are involved in every level of the party from the grassroots to the DNC. In addition an African-American named Ronald H. Brown ran my party from 1989-1993 before he became commerce secretary under President Clinton. By the way, under Ron Brown’s leadership the Democratic Party captured the White House and majorities in the House and Senate. So when is an African-American gonna run your party?
I’m tired of bait-and-switch GOP election tactics in which they say one thing and do the radically opposite once they are elected. They write Orwellian legislation that does the exact opposite of what its lofty titles promise. The Patriot Act curtails civil liberties. Leave No Child Behind attacks public education and underfunds it. The Help America Vote Act adds more ways to disenfranchise Americans from their precious right to vote. They coddle corporate America at the expense of working class America.
If Republicans (and conservatives by extension) value working people and wants to help you achieve your dreams, then why has the GOP consistently voted against and killed raises in the minimum wage? Why have they made it HARDER for people to sue when a corporation’s shoddy products or discriminatory practices ruin lives in the name of 'tort reform'? Why have they cut taxes for the wealthy, which increases the tax burden on the working class? Why have they made it harder for people to form and join unions? Seems that the only values the GOP appreciates is rising stock prices that put money in their pockets at the expense of working class people.
Felicia, since you went there on Affirmative Action, let me state that it is unrealistic to assume that 40 years of this policy (which by the way started under the Nixon administration) magically wiped out the debilitating effects of 246 years of slavery and another 100 years of Jim Crow segregation. While merit is a wonderful concept and a goal we should all strive for, the reality is that white people control the HR departments of many corporations and some of them disproportionately hire people that look like them without considering whether that person is qualified or not. They also had a 400 year head start in terms of accumulating the wealth that they enjoy today at the expense of the suffering of our ancestors.
Felicia, the thing that binds us is our shared values as Americans. They are not the private property of the GOP. Democrats love our flag, revere our Constitution and our country just as much as you conservatives. Then again you conservatives respect for the Constitution is debatable. It's more like contempt for it.
I have a problem with the GOP definition of values. Disenfranchising gay people because you don’t like them is not an American value. Selfishness is not an American value. Suppressing dissent is not an American value. As African-Americans who have fought our own long and bitter struggle just to get OUR constitutional rights respected, we shouldn’t be standing shoulder to shoulder with the same bigots that opposed us in the 60’s (and still do) when we were the ones marching in the streets
So GW Bush increased his share of the African-American vote from 8% to 12%. You can be very proud of the fact that you bamboozled, frightened, supressed votes and used hatred of gay people to get that 4% increase. Congratulations.
The only thing that has been dragging our country into a pit as you put it is the mean spirited way that conservatives have imposed their views on the country. You don’t want dialogue; you want a monologue a la FOX News.
As far as you hating the term African-American, I love it. It reminds others and myself that I am an American of African descent and I'm proud of my African roots. You can’t put that in small letters to marginalize me as you do if I call myself Black. If Polish-Americans, Irish-Americans, Latinos and Asians can celebrate their cultural heritage, then why can’t we? Or are you black GOP conservatives ashamed of your African ancestry?
I am reminded of a 1978 comment from Adlai Stevenson Jr. concerning the GOP:
‘I have been tempted to make a proposal to our Republican friends that if they stop telling lies about us, we would stop telling the truth about them.’
To quote the word of your late hero Ronald Reagan, "there you go again" in terms of pushing the fiction that the Bush administration is the most diverse in history.
The most diverse administration in US history was the previous one run by William Jefferson Clinton. Brother Bill appointed more African-Americans to his cabinet than Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Daddy Bush, and GW combined. The previous record holder was another Democratic president, James Earl Carter. By the way Felicia, a president APPOINTS people to his cabinet and his administration, not elects them.
So, you mean to tell me that Alexis Herman, Rodney Slater, Hazel O’Leary, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Dr. David Satcher, Togo West, Eric Holder and Jesse Brown didn’t work hard to get their positions? Or is hard work only the province of negro conservatives?
So where are these emerging black conservatives? Oh yeah, they’re standing in line at GOP headquarters receiving their cash handouts to run for public office (Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele) or getting paid $250K to shill on national TV for Bush administration policies like Armstrong Williams.
Just as you made the decision to support the GOP, I’m a thoughtful person who’s analyzed both sides and made the conscious decision to support the Democratic Party. It just so happens that 90% of African-Americans reached the same conclusion about which party to support.
I am a Democrat because I had quality people like Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland representing me in Congress when I was growing up in Houston. It was Democrats at the local, county, state and federal levels who looked out for the issues I deeply care about such as the environment, civil rights, education and creating a fair society. It was my Democratic state legislator Ron Wilson who fought for my right to vote in the 1984 presidential election when a white GOP poll watcher tried to deny it to me in my home precinct and Dems who consistently fought for it.
All I ever see from conservatives is consistent opposition to those policies that I know help build a prosperous African-American middle class. I see from many conservative blacks who are GOP members selfish materialism, mind-numbing rhetoric devoid of logic, arrogance, denial of their heritage, and support of racist policies that seek to eliminate or roll back everything that our people have worked hard to implement.
Join the GOP? No thank you