Guest post from Julene of Women For Action
Race 2012 Project: Black Republican is it an Oxymoron and when did Black Mean Democrat?
Some would say the Black Republican individual is incomprehensible, beyond moral belief. Why would African Americans support a party that appear to work against black mobilization? The Republican Party itself has been dominated by “the Good Ole Boys Network”, an unofficial fraternity of powerful white men that appears to be resistant to change and ideas that would diversify the political spectrum, and financial progress for minorities and women. A Black Republican could be one of the greatest American oxymoron. The Republican Party itself refutes change, especially in what it appears to be one of the most controversial presidential elections, in American history, as an African American occupies the White House. Yet, Democrats are without perfection. Blacks have supported the party for decades, yet a portion of black America have been subjected to an economic wasteland, without the proper resources and the political backing to revive the community. The Republican and Democratic Party stand side by side making up a powerful two-party system in America. Yet there is reason to believe that both parties have turned their backs on the harsh realities within Black America.
The Republican Party have boldly iterated ideas that will revert America back to a time before the 20th century. There were no labor unions, then; companies paid their workers well below living wages and labor conditions were hazardous, to say the least. Voting laws marginalized those with little influence and power. Women were unable to make decisions for their reproductive health, as poor women died from backroom and back alley abortions, while wealthy white women had the financial resources, to do what they wanted. Policies were simply unfair, subjecting Black America to the worst kind of poverty. This could be the American reality as Republicans work towards disbanding unions, restricting voting rights, and amending the constitution, so that women would no longer have the right to make choices for their reproductive health. The party appears to promote policies that will benefit the rich, at the expense of everyone else; They hope to privatize Medicare, Social Security and disarm entitlement programs. These programs benefit the poor and most working class Americans, especially throughout a recession. Yet they plan to cut taxes on wealthy Americans, and do away with some regulations on Big Business. It is an American reality that could be catastrophic to the progress of the 20th century.
Yet Black Republicans would argue that Democrats are the “Do Nothing Party”, leaving millions of minorities unemployed. Blacks have the highest unemployment rate in America. In September, 13.4 percent of black workers, or 2.44 million people, remained out of work.(1) In addition, inner city children, which makes up predominantly minorities and blacks, are subjected to less than mediocre education. Republicans could attribute this to the unresponsiveness of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party does not need to woo the African American community, nor do they need to work towards any sort of repair throughout the community; they already have the black vote. Democrats have become a party that appear to push policies that are trending amongst contemporary America. This is justifiable because the party needs to sustain its voting influence, while doing away with measures that may diminish the party’s resources, especially on what may be perceived as irreparable systematic issues .
The Democratic Party did not always have the black vote. In fact, Southern Democrats worked to disenfranchise blacks, while denying their civil liberties. They pushed segregation laws, denied former slaves voting rights and wages for labor. They were also resistant to the Abolitionist Movement. Abolishing slavery threatened the South’s livelihood and the magnitude of their financial resources. Yet, a Democratic president spurred a pivotal change; President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal created opportunity and employment for blacks, who were prevented from working at the time. Blacks started supporting Democratic candidates thereon, especially those that pushed policies that were beneficial to them. The Democratic Party started to move leftward in ideas as they diversified and pushed policies that would benefit minorities, as Republicans moved rightward, resisting a change to policies. Eventually, these Southern Democrats shifted to the Republican Party, to further their segregationist agenda. In 1948, Democratic President Harry Truman got 77% of the black vote, as he worked towards desegregating the army. But Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson received 94% of the black vote, for pushing the Civil Right Act of 1964. (2) Blacks adhered themselves to the Democratic movement. After all, black politicians were warranted by the Democratic Party. It was simple mathematics; Southern whites and Social Conservatives that dominated the Republican party retained remnants of the old ways.
Moving forward, some Black Republicans would say that African Americans are naive for voting for an African American president due to the high crime rate amongst low-income communities, the single mother syndrome, children being born out of wedlock, and alarming poverty levels. Yet their opposition may argue that voting for a black president changes the face of leadership and success, in America, which in turn, defaces black disablement. This is a group of American people that have lacked cohesion throughout the years. Its ability to come together and set forth an agenda to exercise their voting rights in order to change the face of leadership, is tremendous progress. According to Pew Research, Nearly all (95%) black voters cast their ballot for Democrat Barack Obama while white voters supported McCain (55%) over Obama (43%). (3) Republicans have probably have inherited a sense of hopelessness, in any attempt at soliciting African Americans. If they can gain African American support, then great, but their time and energy has appeared to have been well spent criticizing groups unlike them, as they promote rigid policies. Post President Obama’s inauguration, Former Republican Leader Michael Steele stated that the party’s plan was to incorporate hip hop in the Republican movement; the measure was a bit desperate and offensive to Black America. The party’s rhetoric often appear discriminatory and disdainful towards minority groups. Former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich called Obama the “Food stamp President”. Former Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum stated that “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn money.” (4) Most recently, Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney explains that 47% of American are dependent on government and claimed that these Americans will vote for Obama. These comments are a small segment of what’s been spewed by the party. They don’t seem to care who they offend. You can say it’s the “Black President Dynamic”, making those who feel they are superior succumb to their true thoughts and ideas, as they attempt to resist what they believe as an inferior individual in power. It’s a theory. It may shed some light on why many Republican leaders, even Black Republicans, appear to be smug and condescending in their tone and behavior, especially when attempting to discredit and discard the sitting president.
As we extract some unappealing characteristics of the two-party system here in America, we have to wonder why no other political party has gained as much political significance. Surely minorities have the numbers to reflect change, as we have witnessed throughout the 2008 election. Maybe it’s fair to say that the “Good Ole Boys” reflect both parties, a society exclusive to a few. Their financial resources reflect the resistance towards a new reality. This may be why Americans are starting to feel that nothing truly gets done in government. This should be an incentive for all Americans to want to pull away from the crippling nature of a two-party system, as it leaves the power in the hands of simply a few. Americans should embark on independence and freedom of individual ideas. This is what makes this country so great. Americans have the freedom to make their own political choices. Supporting policies that are conducive to all groups is a progressive measure, while doing away with these cookie-cut approaches to legislation. It has stifled the American Dream, restricted individuals from freely choosing what’s best for the future of the country.
This is a conversation prevalent for Americans as we work together and examine the topic of race. Fore more, follow my Race 2012 posts at womenforaction.org. Follow the conversation at the Race 2012 site. Be sure you check your local listing and tune in to watch The Race 2012 documentary on October 16th at 8pm on PBS! Oh and like the project on Facebook and Twitter.