A Tangled Web: African Americans and The GOP

So, let me start off by saying that I believe in the two party system. Even in the throes of my disgust with what the party has become, I stand by that belief. Why? Because the two party system should ensure a balanced and measured approach to policy making. In a pluralistic society, differing approaches/ideals are needed to inform political, economic, social and judicial policy which is representative of the masses.

At my core, I respect differing ideologies/opinions and the dynamics of compromise. In, and of itself, compromise has value in all areas of life. Congress has forgotten this in their thirst for power as they become fat with the corrupting influence of money in politics.

I get hives when I envision unilateralism. We have examples of these systems and how they work, think the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, or the People’s Republic of China. It can be a dangerous path on the road to fascism.

Theoretical models aside, the ineptitude of the current Congress challenges this belief to my very bones. But let’s be fair, that’s pretty much a direct result of my Bush hangover and the GOP field today. Their platform has been poisoned by inaction, divisiveness and destructive race/hatemongering. When I hear about Republicans like George Romney, Mitt’s father, I am stymied as to how we got where we are today and wonder why Mitt falls so far outside the spectrum of his father’s values and life lessons.

The bigger question might be, based on the last two years, why the party seems to have moved to the extreme right and by doing so, have they made themselves defunct? Surely, they embody devolution at it’s best and a hearkening back to days gone by. How will they make their way back? Is that even possible?

But I digress…

All this is to say that my motivation for the following question is not because I think the Republican party is unnecessary but a genuine quest for what seems to be a glaring contradiction.

“What’s up with African American Republicans?”

It’s Black History month and an election year to boot, so I want to get down to the bottom of this. Why do they exist? Their very existence is anathema to me and makes me itch.

It should be said that even at 19, I was a Democrat. I align with their world view, you see. My blood pumps liberal and always has. They are the party of conscience. The party which cares for the people, not just an elitist, rich and privileged few. They are critically important, especially now.

So speaks a child born in 1968, post Civil Rights era.

When my grandmother told me she was a Republican, I looked at her like she had two heads. Interestingly enough, my mother is a Democrat. I grew up listening to the likes of Sonia Sanchez “Refuse & Resist” and since I was 12 have been blessed to have multiracial friends embodying the full socio-economic spectrum. This gave me an experience of cultural norms outside the African American community. This made my my world view nothing if not pluralistic. I think that knowledge and experience is germane to my fundamental beliefs.

Only now, after learning of the Hip Hop Republicans (again I thank you Twitter) have I been moved to do some research in an attempt to understand the question.

Did you know?

  • Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
  • The Republican party were proponents of the 13th amendment banning slavery the 14th amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law for Blacks and the 15th which granted us the right to vote.
  • All these initiatives were opposed by the Democratic party.
  • The original 1957 Civil Rights Act was written by Chief Justice Earl Warren who was also the author of Brown vs. Board of Education, responsible for desegregation. He was appointed by Eisenhower, also a Republican.
  • Famous African American Republicans: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Carter G. Woodson, Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas and Michael Steele.

Those are the facts and we can argue about the why of it, which many have said was spurned by less than altruistic motives, another time. But now, I get it! I understand that past is prologue. See, what you don’t know is just as important than what you think you know!

This has spawned a second question, “What has happened to the Republican party?”

Hmm, crickets.

Yes, more research is in order lol. Nonetheless, the current GOP field, think Allan West, Herman Cain, and their ilk, are so far removed from previous generations of Republicans that it is nothing short of scary. In fact, I don’t think they know their history. The rhetoric they spout underscores this in a MAJOR way.

I understand loyalty but I do not understand blind loyalty and so my original question remains. Why, in today’s environment, would any African American, especially those whom care about progress and the plight of their people today, continue to be loyal to the Republican party? It flies in the face of the evidence and facts. You can add to that the growing list of embattled groups, women, LGBT, immigrants, the poor, the college educated etc.

I have a scary vision of them converging on the ballot box which, God help me, keeps me up at night. 😉 I won’t be happy until 11/7/12 or thereabouts…

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7 thoughts on “A Tangled Web: African Americans and The GOP”

  1. Interesting points, Coco! This is an issue that cannot be solved easily. I think there should probably be more than 2 dominant parties, but I get your point about balance. I wonder if more black people joined the Republican party, would it have to find different ways to achieve their goals, or is that even possible?

  2. Indeed, a “Tangled Web”. My dad aligned himself with the Republican party (though he’s never voted) until Barack Obama ran for office. It seemed like he too had a blind sense of loyalty to the elephant’s hide until it’s “a double s” was exposed during and after the election of POTUS Obama. I think mostly, his allegiance had to do with his religious ideals and what he thought was conservatism of family values, etc; however, it was difficult for him to ignore the blatant racism that also came along with that. He simply can’t defend that.

    1. Hi Empress,

      Thanks for sharing that. In all fairness, I think change is hard. Particularly, in accordance with the history of the party. Had I lived through the transformations that previous generations wrought I am sure my allegiance would be different. Watching the trajectory of the GOP swing so viciously to the extremism and hateful rhetoric that exists today surely could not have been easy, no way is it within the bounds of the rationality and justice.

  3. Awesome post! A third question, what has happened to the people? Have we become so divided that we’ve forgotten the power we have as the people? I ask why any American, African, Mexican, Native, or otherwise would continue to humor this folly of a system we have today. We may as well be living back in the 1890’s.

    1. Hi Jester,

      Thanks! That’s an excellent question and one I wish I had the answer to. I make jokes about something in the water but it’s so not funny :(. We do indeed seem to be as divided today as were in times past but I suppose that depends on who you talk to. Doesn’t that speak to how slowly consciousness evolves? It’s a sorry state of affairs.

  4. I won’t get knee deep into a political discussion on the 2 party system but your theory is incorrect. Because you have 2 parties, does not insure balance. If one of the parties is always for one ideal, and the other party is for the other ideal, you would need a 3rd viable party to insure balance, which is not present in the American political arena. That said….have a wonderful Primary Tuesday.

    1. Hi Jueseppi,

      I didn’t really think of this as my theory but more the basis of the American system. The fact that it the system has been proven only to be good theoretically is why I said “should” ensure balance as opposed to one. There is also an argument against the third party system since it weakens and dilutes the pool of votes for majority parties.

      Thinking of this season are you please about Americans Elect? Certainly, that would play into the third party balance you described above. I think it’s cool, in theory, but in reality they may have a less than desirable impact on the President Obama’s bid for a second term.

      My primary Tuesday sucked lol but I thank you for your well wishes :). TGIF

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