Paul R. Lehman,A few reasons why some African Americans join the Republican Party

October 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, Democrats, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, minority, Oklahoma, Prejudice, presidential election, Respect for President, whites | 3 Comments
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Some confusion exists in the minds of some people who try to explain the reasons why some African Americans are Republicans. One Opinion writer for The Oklahoman believes they are attacked because they do not reflect “racial unity.” In the article, “Color Bind: Racial unity pledge coming up short,” he states that President Obama “implied that his election would usher in a post-racial era. This hasn’t been the case.” Whether President Obama implied it or not, he has no control of the mind-set of the entire country.  The article noted “Consider how black citizens who support Republican Mitt Romney are treated. After actress Stacey Dash tweeted her endorsement of Romney, she was inundated with racist attacks.” The article further noted that “In a CNN interview Dash said she chose Romney ‘not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.’” According to the article, Dash is joined in her support of Romney by other African Americans, former U. S. Rep. Artur Davis, Ward Connerly, J.C. Watts, and T.W. Shannon. The point missed by the “Opinion writer” is that the color of the candidate has nothing to do with the complaints made against these people –it is their choice of party—republican.

For an African American to join and support the Republican Party today, he or she must have little or limited knowledge of the party’s history since the early 1950’s. Knowledge of the Republican Party beginning with the 1950’s will reveal a story that shows just how unaccommodating the party has been to African Americans. Once known as the party of Lincoln, the Republicans changed their views towards African Americans during and following Reconstruction. The belief among European Americans in general, but especially in the South, was that the government would never make any ethnic group equal to them. When the public schools were desegregated many Southern democrats started to change their political party to republican. Many European Americans in the Republican Party believed that the African American was to be always a second-class citizen. So, armed with that information, one wonders why an African American knowing the history of the party would join it.

For an African American to join and support the Republican Party, he or she must not have any knowledge of the civil rights struggle waged by the African Americans to gain basic rights. They need to know that the Republican did not support any form of civil rights legislation that included the court decisions from Brown v Topeka to the fair housing act or even the Lily Ledbetter Act. At every juncture where African Americans have tried to gain first-class citizenship, the Republican Party has been against it. So, again, one wonders why an African American would want to support a party with such a record. This party has never been afraid to show its biases. All one has to do is look at the many instances where some of its representatives have tried to denigrate President Obama, not because of his party affiliations, but because of his ethnicity.

What should be apparent to many Americans today is the battle being waged in society and politics has to do with human rights, everything from Affirmative Action to voting rights, and workers’ rights. When we check to see who is behind the efforts to deny American rights, we learn that much of it come from representatives of the Republican Party. They believe that when ethnic Americans gain rights, they lose something, so they fight anyway the can for the status quo.

Again, why would an African American want to be associated with a party that wants to deny him or her basic rights? The article made the following suggestion: “The caucus [African American] tacitly acknowledges that black officials enjoy greater opportunity in the Republican Party. This has been the case in Oklahoma, where J. C. Watts won a statewide office (corporation commissioner) and a U.S. House seat.” The article also noted that “State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is expected to become the first black speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives next month. Both have won the support of voters who don’t share Shannon racial background but do share his conservative values.”

Yes, and that, of course, is part of the reason for African Americans being in the Republican Party—the recognition and opportunity to progress as individuals. Notice that the emphasis on African American republicans is on the individual, not the people. In effect, some African Americans join the Republican Party knowing they will be exploited, but also knowing they too can exploit the party. Many of the visual African American republicans can be conceived of as “watch pocket” republicans because they only come out when the need is there. For a while, J.C. Watts was the hottest ticket in Washington, D.C.; the fourth highest ranking republican. But what degree of power and/or influence did he have? When the word came out that Tom Delay, the third highest ranking republican in the House was thinking about a move up, Watts thought he would simply move up also. Unfortunately, and presumably when Delay heard of Watts’s possible plan, he changed his mind about moving up, and remained in his position. . Being very visual but having no power evidently did not sit well with Watts; he did not run for re-election.

Republicans enjoy having “watch pocket” African Americans in the party because any time there is a charge of bigotry or ethnic bias, they can go to their pocket and pull one out to show that any accusations of bigotry or biases is completely false. They can pull one out to show and tell “they have one!” Many Americans, African Americans included pause to take note of African Americans who join and support the Republican Party because they know that anyone with common knowledge about the history of today’s Republican Party, and its relationship to the civil rights movement would reflect better judgment in their choice. That is, unless there is a payoff for them.

The “Opinion writer” thinks that African American republicans are being criticized for not supporting Obama and “Racial unity,” because of their obvious ethnicity. However, the real reason is because their sense of logic and rational thinking is being questioned. Why would a drowning man ask for a glass of water? To many people, that is exactly what African American republicans resemble.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Thank you for an excellent article on a provocative subject. I agree the political choices of African Americans have much less to do with race than with party. However, I am offended by the often suggested idea that African Americans blindly follow the Democratic Party because they give away more stuff and African Americans are too intellectually challenged and lazy to realize they are being used. This may sound corny but I think African Americans embrace those that embrace them. The Republican Lincoln and the Democrat Kennedy were both beloved in the African American community. I agree for example that the current poll numbers showing a huge advantage in the African American community for President Obama would change very little if any if the Republican nominee was Herman Cain. However, I expect it would change if the Republican nominee was Colin Powell. The fact that the likelihood of either of those gentlemen (or someone like them) becoming the Republican nominee for president is slim, might provide a clue as to which party seems to be embracing the African American community and claiming its loyalty.

  2. A very perceptive essay.

  3. Great article. How insulting is it when the right wing quotes Dr. King out of context to support their anti-Black policies? Interestingly though, Democrats get a free ride when it comes to them being called on their racism. Black people in wealthy Westchester County NY- specifically in Peekskill- have been treated like they are living in Apartheid South Africa by Democrats. National, State and local Dems-silent!


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