CLARENCE V. MCKEE
Another Republican National Convention, and the same old question: “Why so few Blacks?”
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.
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 GOP 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.
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.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for the NAACP, National Organization of Women, or the Congressional Black Caucus to condemn this vicious assault. In fact, 14 CBC members sent a letter to Davis accusing him of everything but being a traitor for switching to the GOP.
I have not heard or seen Hispanic Democrats demeaning Hispanic Republicans. Or Democrats of Indian ancestry calling Republican Govs. Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley “traitors” because they are Republicans. Or Jewish Democrats calling Jewish Republicans disgusting names. Or 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. My father once told me, “If you don’t respect yourself or your own people, no one will respect you.”
That’s 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.
GOP also responsible
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 for Hispanics as well as 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 columnist and political consultant Raynard Jackson recently wrote, “…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.”
There’s less 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.