Up until the 1930’s, the majority of blacks were Republican, proud to be in the Party of Lincoln. The song that would become the national anthem of the NAACP, Lift Every Voice and Sing, was written by a black Republican in 1900 to celebrate President Lincoln’s birthday. Nine years later, on Lincoln’s 100-year birthday, the NAACP was formed, with a number of founders being white Republicans.
Fast forward to the 2000 presidential election.
George W. Bush captured a mere eight percent of the black vote. Eight percent!
A) How did that happen?
B) More important, how can the GOP rekindle the relationship with one of its most natural constituencies?
A) Incompetence, a lack of foresight, political expediency—and FDR’s New Deal.
B) Bold, aggressive leadership that ignores political correctness. This means going for the jugular of all who label real solutions "racist" or "bigoted".
Answer B, applicable to solving most of our problems, is simple, just not easy.
So has the GOP made progress? Unequivocally, the answer is No.
It’s been ages since the Party ran a presidential candidate who could heal the wounds and be a uniter, and 2012 looks to be more of the same.
For evidence, look at what happened during the last campaign. The four GOP frontrunners — McCain, Romney, Thompson and Giuliani — deliberately skipped an important debate on race relations, citing lame excuses for being no-shows.
Truth is, they refused to attend for a simple reason. They looked at how many blacks vote Republican, and, figuring they would get pummeled by the primarily black audience (it was held at historically black Morgan State University), stayed away.
After that act of cowardice, "Freindly Fire" rained fire on those Republicans:
"Any Republican who believes the status quo is acceptable—and a deliberate absence at such an event makes that their position— doesn’t deserve to lead our nation. Running for President should not just be about cozy fund raisers and scripted speeches to friendly audiences. It must be about tackling the most pressing issues, even if it means walking into the lion’s den, standing your ground, and outlining your vision for success."
John McCain epitomized the status quo, and, not coincidentally, got crushed in the election.
The Republicans are in desperate need of a leader willing to stand up and embrace Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., someone who can credibly remind blacks about their former alliance with the GOP. But most of all, a leader who can explain to blacks that they are still Republican in their values, and to show them the way home.
Dr. King espoused Republican ideals more eloquently than most. Look at the words in his most famous statement: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character". Is there anything more Republican than that? True Republicans strive to live in a color-blind society, where people are judged by their deeds, not their skin pigment.
Ironically, many GOP leaders who advocate merit over skin color fail to practice what they preach. Courted for their "blackness," Michael Steele was chosen to head the Republican National Committee, and Lynn Swann to run for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. Both men were inherently unqualified for those respective positions, and both were soundly, and embarrassingly, rejected. It is clear the Republicans learned nothing from Dr. King.
A guiding principle of the GOP is personal responsibility, and no one epitomized that more than Dr. King. He never ran from the law during a protest, nor did he label his arrests and imprisonment as persecution. Unlike so many leaders in both political Parties, he never engaged in the blame game.
In fact, it was the opposite — Dr. King never complained about the consequences of his actions. Knowing the high risks, he took full responsibility for those actions, innately understanding that the only way to achieve freedom was to work within the American system, changing it from the inside by winning the hearts and minds of the American people.
Most blacks find themselves in the same position as rank-and-file union members. Both share the core beliefs of the Republican Party, but suffer because their leaders sold them out long ago in favor of personal agendas and Democratic sweetheart deals— contrary to the interests of those they represent.
Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the CBS executive involved in Don Imus’ firing, congressional leaders…the list is long. Yet God forbid a black person speaks truthfully on sacred-cow "black" issues! That just isn’t permitted, so when it rarely occurs, personal insults and vicious attacks immediately follow. Look at the heat Bill Cosby took when he scolded the black community for using excuses and not improving themselves through personal responsibility. He was demonized by black "leaders" nationwide.
But he was right.
Who is most affected by violent crime? Who is most impacted by outrageous taxes and ever-increasing public transportation fees? Who, more than anyone, strives for a solid family unit, knowing the catastrophic results of children growing up without a father? As a group, who opposes same-sex marriages more than any other? And who better understands the reality that many of our failed public schools, especially those in the inner city, have become literal battle zones—-and that the only way to achieve a quality education, and with it one’s dreams, is through parental choice in education?
Bold leadership isn’t going to garner the Republicans a huge vote swing in the next election—you don’t reverse eighty years of thinking overnight. But if the GOP does the right thing, for the right reasons, the votes will follow.
And on the race relations issue, doing the right thing is as simple as black and white.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, "Freindly Fire," hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newsApapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller "Catastrophe."
Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX. He can be reached at [email protected]