Paul R. Lehman, Gen. Powell identifies concerns for the Republican Party

January 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm | Posted in African American, black republicans, blacks, Colin POwell, Congress, Democrats, Disrespect, equality, European American, fairness, GOP, justice, minority, Prejudice, President, President Obama, presidential election, Respect for President, Slavery, socioeconomics, the Republican Party, whites | 2 Comments
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On Sunday (1-13-13) General Colin Powell was on “Meet the Press,” and spoke with David Gregory about some of the problems with his political party, the Republican Party. General Powell, a former Secretary of State in the last Bush administration, is a well-respected statesmen as well as an African American. Most people listen when Powell talks because he does not generally engage in idly chatter. If anyone witnessed the interview then there is no question about the seriousness of Powell’s comments. He talked about the Republican Party’s identity problem, its shift, its need to be concerned with society’s needs.

The first party problem Powell identified was that of the Party’s identity. He stated that “In recent years, there’s been a significant shift to the right and we have seen what that shift has produced, two losing presidential campaigns. I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed.” In what can be considered constructive criticism, Powell makes the suggestion that the party takes a good look at itself and recognizes the variety and diversity of its membership to see what need to be addressed for a successful future. With the failure of the party in the last two elections, something must be done to correct the problem. Powell even pinpoints the problem regarding the party’s identity: “The country is changing demographically. And if the Republican Party does not change with that demographic, they’re going to be in trouble.”

Powell’s comments come as no surprise since most news pundits as well as ordinary citizens realized that after the elections the majority of minority and women voted for Obama. A number of republicans also noted the lack of support of ethnic Americans for Republican candidates. All Powell was doing was underscoring the problem and challenge his party faces. The lack of ethnic diversity in the Republican Party calls attention to itself.

The shift Powell refers to, meaning to the right, is cause for concern also. Many of the party representatives hold views that show a lack of concern and compassion for the well-being of some of our less-fortunate citizens. Their primary concern seems to be in total support of the rich and powerful at the expense of the working and middle class citizens. All one has to do is look at the record of Congress the last four years for verification of this fact. If the party wants to be successful in the future, according to Powell, it must expand its membership and become more receptive to the middle-class and minorities.

With respect to the party’s identity, Powell stated that it has developed what he called “a dark vein of intolerance” in its perception. For example, when President Obama was first elected, Mitch O’Connell made the statement that the number one objective of the party was to make Obama a one term president. All the efforts of the party since that statement seem to throw support towards that objective. Unfortunately, the first order of business for many of the Republicans was to show disrespect for the President. This show of disrespect became apparent in a variety of ways. Although Powell does not say so directly, his examples show that the disrespect was meant to convey a specific message regarding the President’s ethnicity. Powell mentions the reference made by ex-Governor Palin regarding his “shucking and jiving,” which can only be associated with African Americans and the slavery experience. Another reference made by a republican official after the first Presidential debate to President Obama as seeming to be “lazy,” a term generally associated with a negative stereotype of African Americans, as opposed to some other term. To Powell, these references show a negative and mean-spirited attack on the President’s ethnicity. The birther movement challenged his citizenship in spite of the documentation shared with the public– birth certificates, newspaper birth announcements etc.

Powell also included the party’s negative actions regarding immigration, voter suppression, and general actions underscoring an attitude of intolerance of minorities. Although Powell’s comments were meant to alert his party to many of its problems, the likely-hood of some of the people in his party receiving his comments as constructive criticism is questionable. Some will attack Powell because he spoke at all; some will criticize him of pointing out the problems and challenges; some will condemn his as a turn-coat or a democrat in disguise. In any event, his comments will be met with ungrateful attitudes especially because he is an African American.

Powell sees himself as a mainstream Republican who cares deeply for his party and would like to see it address its many problems. His final comments during the interview underscore that idea:

I think the Party has to take a look at itself. It has to take a look at its responsibilities for health care. It has to take a look at immigration. It has to take a look at those less fortunate than us. The party has gathered unto itself a reputation that it is the party of the rich. It is the party of lower taxes. But there are a lot of people who are lower down the food chain, the economic chain, who are also paying lots of taxes relative to their income, and they need help. We need more education work being done in this country. We need a solid immigration policy. We have to look at climate change.

Chances are the Republicans will over-look Powell’s comments and move ahead with the plans they have in place. After all, they do not have to worry about being re-elected to office since most come from gerrymandered state districts. Some probably see Powell as an unfortunate nuisance.

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  1. Excellent observations! I think many were stunned by General Powell’s endorsement of President Obama because of his very deep roots in the Republican Party. Some said it was common ethnicity that drove his decision. However that common ethnicity did not move him to endorse Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or even Herman Cain. I think it is obvious that General Powell is driven first and foremost by his love of country. That love is important enough to him that he would boldly state the truth no matter the personal consequences, even if that means calling the Emperor naked.

  2. Very well stated. It appears the Republican Party is merely taking token steps to accept and welcome diversity while becoming narrower in its view of what is important for this country to maintain its position in the global family. If we are a country governed for and by the majority, they need to genuinely accept and endorse the reality “majority” is not one ethnic group nor is it a group of individuals or organizations controlling the vast amount of wealth.


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