Saturday, September 15, 2007

Minority Report

Tavis Smiley, a leader of the American Black community, has been trying to put together a GOP candidates forum focusing on Black issues. Unfortunately, none of the major candidates seem interested in showing up. Now, several Black Republicans are telling their party that if they're serious about presenting themselves as a viable alternative to the Democratic Party, they've got to start acting like it:
Tavis did a 'Shout out' to his fellow Black Republicans, asking them why they were so silent on this matter. They keep on yapping that the GOP is a valid alternative for Black America, yet, when a nationally televised forum is put together so that GOP Candidates can present what they believe are GOP answers to concerns of the Black community, three of their Major Candidates don't even bother to respect Black Americans with their presence.

Why aren't these Black Republicans CHALLENGING their own frontrunners to appear in front of a Black audience?

I will give Maryland Senatorial Candidate Michael Steele credit. In an interview this week, Steele said that the GOP should be at Tavis' forum, and that they need to either ' put up or shut up' about being serious about presenting a platform to the Black community.

But, I haven't heard from any more prominent Black Republicans or Conservative Bloggers...their silence is deafening. And, until they speak up and out about this, they should just keep quiet about the GOP actually being a 'choice' for Black folk. But, as with so much else with the GOP, Black Republicans will find some sort of mental gymnastics to excuse this away.

At a prior forum on Black issues for GOP candidates, the only attendee was Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, who thus far is the only Republican to make such an appearance. Tancredo, who is running on a platform of "Immigrants Will Destroy America" probably thinks he can exploit simmering tensions between the Black and Latino community to make in-roads. And, for all I know, he's right. While I find Tancredo's views repugnant, at least he's actually making his pitch to Black voters and letting them decide how to respond to it.

But overall, Tancredo is the gaping exception, and this does strike me as an interesting extension of the Kanye West "George Bush [and the Republican Party] doesn't care about Black people" theorem. It is, I think, true that anybody who runs for President needs to be President of all American, and it's qualitatively harmful when certain groups -- particularly those which have been systematically excluded from political representation entirely for much of our nation's history -- perceive themselves as being utterly ignored by half the Presidential field.

Nobody expects the GOP to alter its long-standing political positions on affirmative action, the drug war, "tough on crime" policies, and other points of contention within the Black community. But at least nominally, they should have some argument for why these policies are actually to the benefit of Black people. And they do have these arguments -- they just only present them to White audiences (what good does that do?). Religious Christians are not my natural political compatriots, but I at least have arguments for why my positions are the right ones and ones they should adopt, and I've supported recent Democratic efforts to try and penetrate that community. For the GOP, though, its even worse, because they don't (publicly, anyway) concede that the Black community is inherently ideologically opposed to them (as is the case with, say, me and the "Christian Right"). This makes their spurning of Black candidate forums all the more troublesome.

Via Pam's

1 comment:

PG said...

I wonder if the Republicans who don't attend would excuse it on a "big tent" basis: to wit, that they are not going to segregate black Americans from other Americans in making their pitches. They could point out all the other debates they don't attend, like the one happening right now that the nutters at the American Family Association are putting on for "values" issues.