As an American who typically votes for Democratic candidates, although I have voted for Republicans on occasion because I thought their message was better than their political opponents, it is way past the time to seriously challenge and question the unfailing loyalty of Blacks toward the Democratic Party. How can any person with a brain not be offended by the comment of radio host Tom Joyner a few weeks ago who encourages his listening audience to reelect President Barack Obama, keeping a Democrat in the White House and worry about the issues later?
Now, he is not the first person to ever encourage a particular constituency, demographic and ethnic group to vote strictly along party lines but the problem lies in the fact that political loyalty, not substantive, critical examination and rigorous debate on pertinent issues, is the most important thing. I mean, to coin a phrase from Janet Jackson, “Democrats, what have you done for us lately?” Are African-Americans really “Uncle Tom’s” or “Aunt Jemima’s” if they march to another drumbeat and choose to think for themselves; or must we only listen to the voices of Black America’s self-appointed political, religious and social Messiahs where some receive unreported financial donations or contributions from White men with fat wallets?
Maybe such devotion is based upon the collective memories from the past, like the exploits of heroes JFK (John Kennedy) and RFK (Bobby Kennedy) who stood so firmly against racial injustice in the 1960’s, but that was more about political expediency [Black votes] and if they could have avoided involvement in this social time-bomb at the time, they would have. Originally, the majority of White Southern Democrats vehemently opposed the Civil Rights Movement.
What about LBJ (Lyndon Johnson) who signed into Law the Civil Rights Bill, while at the same time repudiated MLK by calling him a “Nigger preacher” when he criticized America’s involvement in the Vietnam War? On another note, maybe our love should extend all the way back to Abraham Lincoln, who after all, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves [who were considered 3/5 of a person, by the way]; although his driving motive was more about “preserving the union” than any other reason. Oh, by the way, Lincoln was a Republican and as the old saying goes, “Lincoln freed the slaves but he didn’t give us jobs.”
Herman Cain, the GOP presidential contender who is African-American, and despite the troublesome controversy surrounding allegations of improper sexual conduct, has received surprising support from a political party that hasn’t been known to be as welcoming to minorities in the past, especially one who has such a high profile candidacy. Talk Radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as well as other prominent figures within the GOP, including FOX News Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter circling the wagons around their ‘Man of the Hour’ must mean that Armageddon is near.
Michael Steele, former head of the RNC, was the last African-American who held any significant position of power within the party a few years ago, yet there were numerous complaints about him not being competent and effective in his position. The thing is, though, now is the time for the Republican Party and the Tea Party to nurture relationships outside the so-called enemy’s camp and honestly reach out to those whom in the past they would ignore because the Democrats had a ‘lock’ on our hearts and votes; but that is simply not true. The real problem is that the Republicans have not made their case convincingly enough. It must go beyond just opposing President and the Democrats [because some of us don’t agree with his policies and have noticed a failure to fulfill campaign promises] or use labels but lay out concrete steps in clear and concise language how your plan is better for All Americans; hopefully what you propose can be verified by non-partisan Fact Checker and the CBO (Congressional Budget Office).
Blacks also need to realize that historically, we are a ‘conservative’ people in our moral values, social experience, family relationships, religion, work ethic, pursuit of higher education, upward mobility [social class] when it pertains to the attainment of wealth and power, etc. Even some of our oldest and most revered social institutions would be deemed conservative, such as the Black Church, Black Colleges, NAACP, Urban League, Johnson Publishing [Ebony, Jet, Essence, and Black Enterprise magazines], etc. Let’s not ignore the voice of Francis Rice, president of NBR [National Black Republicans], Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and other Black Republicans; famous and not so famous.
The Republican Party should not be stereotyped and characterized by those segregationists and racists from the ‘Old Days’ like KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, Jessie Helms or Strom Thurmond and we should look upon the “Neo-Republicans” like the ‘Arab Spring’ that is happening in the Middle East where a younger, more tech-savvy and open generation is rising up and breaking the shackles of ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, suppression and control of their thoughts and right to choose their own path. Perhaps this is more like “political Darwinism” where either you change and adapt to the new environment or you cease to exist or become irrelevant, redundant and ineffective.
We, as African-Americans have to be willing to listen, to meet the other side half way and we just might find out that that we have a whole lot more in common than at first thought. We can’t do this through political proxies and “talking heads” but we have to meet each other face-to-face, sit down together and have dialogue where we respect each other and accept the fact that we can still disagree without being disagreeable. This is America at her best that allows for the free flowing of ideas guaranteed by our First Amendment Rights under the Constitution and where each person is valued and has the opportunity to enjoy Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
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November 9, 2011
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