Blacks Running as GOP Candidates: Is this good or bad?
On one hand its a great thing that blacks feel comfortable to run as Republicans. It shows that we have come a long way in our history that while it is a story that this many are running, its not as big a story as it would have been a few years or decades ago. I believe that the election of Barack Obama as President and the selection of Michael Steele to head the Republican National Committee both have played a huge role in blacks wanting to win political office, and believing that they can. While blacks have run for political office in the past and have done well, especially in regions that have a solid black population, the election and selection of both Obama and Steele have opened up the doorways for blacks to run for office in places where they may not have felt they could do well in the past. At the end of the day this is great!
Where I have major issues with blacks running for political office as Republicans is that I do not feel that the Republican Party has been kind to people of color. Black people are not one monolithic voting block. Though it is fair to say that as of late blacks have voted almost exclusively for Democratic candidates. According to CNN's exit polls 96% of black people voted for Barack Obama in the election of 2008. While there are many reasons that this occurred, it is undeniable that the reputation of the Republican party has alienated people of color in ways that has been detrimental to the party. On issues that most concern people of color, from affirmative action, economy, war, race relations and prison reform just to name a few, the Republican party have long stood in opposition to what most people of color support.
This is not a new phenomenon. Historically blacks began migrating to the Democratic party during the 1930's during the Roosevelt era. This coincided with the creation of politically liberal ideas that more black people fell in line with. This alliance became more solidified during the 1960's when the Republican Party became the party of the South. Many believe that it was during this time that the alliance became etched in stone.
The current state of the Republican party does not appeal to the vast majority of blacks. This was no more evident than the comment made by Michael Steele at a recent discussion held at Depaul University. When asked why blacks should vote Republican Steele commented "You really don't have a reason to, to be honest -- we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one...For the last 40-plus years we had a 'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South." If this is not the most telling statement from one of the leaders of the Republican party, I don't know what is.
I fully support blacks running for office, in any capacity. It is vitally important that people of all ethnic groups get involved in the political process. The Republican party has many redeeming qualities historically that can serve as huge appeals to segments of the black populace. But at the same time it is important to see where the party is today. To me there is no greater proof at where the Republican Party is than by looking at the past two conventions held in 2008. The Democratic National Convention was a mosaic of all that America has racially and otherwise. Conversely looking at the Republican National Convention was nothing like that. Where were the delegates of color? They didn't exist. If the delegates of color don't exist then there is a huge reason for that. Maybe getting some new faces of color into the GOP will be a huge help for changing the face of the party. Unfortunately this may not be the case.