Say you’re a politician — a black politician — and you want to get elected. Statistically it’s easier to get elected if your run in an area with a lot of black people. You share some causes, some interests, so it makes sense. But there’s this little thing that keeps getting in your way.
You’re a Republican.
You’re black and conservative and you’re with the RNC, but even if you and your constituents agree on things they can’t get over the fact that the party you belong to has a bit of an image problem. It has not exactly helped that the main symbols of the party are loud, boisterous white men who express, very vehemently, their disinterest in anything going on in minority land.
Case in point, The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates on Republicans honoring of dead racist Jesse Helms back in 2008:
When the “champion” of your movement thinks that “crime rates and irresponsibility among Negroes are a fact of life which must be faced,” don’t expect a single sane, hard-working, red-blodded black person to take your arguments against Affirmative Action seriously. Homilies to Martin Luther King, given 40 years late, by people who did not even want to honor his birthday will not help. Hiring Yolanda Adams for your convention will not help. Not even gay marriage amendments will ultimately help. Trust me, as much as we may hate gays, we hate people who venerate racists even more. Purge your party of treasonous Confederate thugs, anti-miscegenists, and racial phrenologists, then we can talk.
What on earth do yo have to do to get a vote around here?
You’re as popular as ants at a picnic. People routinely call you derogatory things like “house Negro,” “boy,” “slave,” “Uncle Tom” and “sell-out.” Bloggers argue that any black person still clinging to their RNC cards are woefully masochistic. Someone just threw an oreo cookie at you. How much more abuse can you (and your views) take for people you say you love (kinda)?
And there goes that damn Harold Ford Jr.
Getting by on family ties, pretty boyishness and coming down on the side of torture. Dreams of a Tennessee governorship dancing in his head. (Shhh … it’ll never happen, but don’t tell him that!) A high profile position with the DCLC. What’s he got that you don’t? You’re twice the conservative he is! Yet he’s in like Flynn and you’re watching Michael Steele do his best Chicken George impression, setting you back about fifty years.
Well, little black Republican, if you stick with your party despite the obstacles, I don’t blame you. Admire your fortitude, I will. GOOD FOR YOU, I’ll say! But if this is about getting elected and serving your community, it really doesn’t make a lick of sense to saddle yourself with a vat of Negro krytonite, when you could either be an independent or a Blue Dog like Ford and actually get elected something.
The two party system is crap. It’s set up to benefit the few and squelch diversity. Unfortunately, unless one or both parties fall into disarray, we’re stuck with this system and a smart politico has to do their best magic to navigate it. I’d argue that if your true goal is serve your community through elected office you need to actually be in a position to get elected and all of us aren’t JC Watts. And even if you do make it out like JC and manage to get elected in a majority white district you still have to deal with the bull crap. (See DeLay, Tom) And it’s not like Democrats don’t have crap you have to put up with. Heavens to Betsy, there is PLENTY of crap! But which would you rather have? Crap where you can be in charge of a committee, get money for your district and influence party policy or crap where you get … crickets? Where you’re constantly repeating the mantra “the Republican Party needs to do more outreach to minority communities” while your party superiors chortle?
The fact is there are conservative Democrats (much to my personal annoyance) and they do have a great influence on the party. Plus, there’s not a lot of kowtowing in the Democratic Party. You can pretty much buck everyone and they just have to sit there, sour faced, and suck on it. (See Spector, Arlen) Yeah, they’re shake their tiny little fists and make some noise, but Democrats rarely kick anyone out. (See Lieberman, Joe), no matter how far off the reservation they go. And unlike the Republicans, there is not Liberal outside man or woman who has the juice to influence party protocol. Michael Moore can pretty much ululate until he’s blue in the face, he knows the Democrats are a political party and will only use him as they see fit. It’s not like with the Duke of Limbaugh or Father O’Reilly, where people actually LISTEN to them. The Democrats honestly don’t give two shits about Keith Olbermann. If they did, we’d have universal health care, gays would serve openly in the military and Iraq would be a distant memory by now.
And you can scream the Democrats are taking advantage of the minority vote all you want. Yes. They DO take advantage of the minority vote. But what is the alternative? A group that won’t even give your ass money to run a decent campaign? That won’t support you if you do, by chance, get elected? Where you’re a flippin’ unicorn?
But I get it. You can’t win unless you play the game. You’re tied to your views and you want a party that reflects them. That’s understandable. Some issues, like abortion, are deal-breakers. I’m just saying, if you’re goal is to get elected you might want to consider running solo or for a different team. There is a radioactive, fatal flaw in your current position. Perhaps it’s time to declare your own “emancipation proclamation” and go your own way.
Agree? Disagree? Share your comments and opinions below. And if you’re so inclined, you can write the counter-argument to this post, and we’ll print it here on The Black Snob. This story is part of a series on interesting, unusual, funny and unconventional takes on issues. To see the full list of issues that will be covered, click here. To read past stories, click here.