Republican Party Needs More Black Americans

July 17, 2012
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On July 11, 2012, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney attempted to show America that the Republican Party was inclusive at the NAACP convention in Houston, Texas, but his continuous criticism of President Obama coupled with his promise to revoke Obama's healthcare plan drew boos from the audience. His effort could go either way as far as making African-Americans more intent to change the Party, or stay away from it altogether. Photo Credit: Reuters

Amid all the negative campaigning between President Obama and Republican nominee hopeful, Mitt Romney, the partisan and non-partisan commentary, the Republican convention will soon take place in Florida. What will be the role of diversity, compassion, and inclusion?

With the Tea Party’s emergence and influence on the Republican Party, it is a question worthy of serious consideration if not during this presidential election, certainly in elections to come.

At the risk of being labeled heretical by some and maybe sensible by others; I am calling on African-Americans to join the Republican Party in droves, not only to maximize the effectiveness of our two-party system in being representative of all Americans, but also to test the claim that members of the Republican party make that they are neither racist nor elitist.

While undoubtedly, the nature, philosophy, and political posture of the Republican Party has changed during the last few years — becoming more extreme in its social and economic views — whether it is consumed with racism is certainly debatable.

One only has to think of the 2000 Republican convention. If you didn’t know any better, you would have concluded from watching the Republican convention that black Americans had finally, like most other minority and ethic groups, assumed a significant role — real participation — in the Republican Party.

There was a continuous parade of African-Americans, and other minorities. From the spirited church choir’s performance on the first night, akin to an old-time revival, to the vintage rock stars at the close of the convention. They performed to a warm, receptive, and participatory crowd of delegates.

Even a Philadelphia pastor and his entire congregation were beamed in by satellite to deliver a fire and brimstone testimonial on behalf of how Gov. Bush of Texas was responsible for their growing economic independence and self-sufficiency in Philadelphia.

On stage, you had African-Americans represented from opening night to the curtain call. Yes, there were the expected appearances by then black Congressman J. C. Watts from Oklahoma and speeches by General Colin Powell and Bush’s foreign policy advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

But back in 2000, that was where the real inclusion stopped. There really wasn’t much. Only 4 percent of the 2,066 delegates on the convention floor were African-American where participation really counted.

Fast forward to today. What will be the nature and message of the 2012 Republican convention? It appears that among minorities, Blacks are the least represented in the Republican Party.

It is true that the Republican platform, as we currently can discern, is not very inclusive of those issues that are important to African-Americans and other minorities, whether it is a fair taxing system, equal opportunity for education and jobs, a realistic immigration policy, etc.

But, if you believe in the purpose and usefulness of our two-party system, every African-American should be increasingly uncomfortable with the notion that, unlike any other ethnic group, we are taken for granted by one party and ignored or snookered by the other.

At best, you would hope that enough African-Americans would be so outraged by such blatant token gestures that they would join the Republican Party in droves and begin to work within it to bring about substantive change. This would be a giant step toward getting our two party system to work, as it should.

Who knows if not in 2012 maybe in four or eight years, during the Republican convention, at least one of the surreal images in 2000 may have become reality.

The only way to impact, either the Democratic or the Republican Party is to become a part of it and change it from within.

Take a lesson from the Tea Party.