Feature Week of May 30, 2004
REPUBLICANS “READY TO RUMBLE” FOR BLACK VOTE
America would be better off if African-Americans owned $11 trillion worth of property. – Jack Kemp, Howard University Trustee and former Republican vice Presidential Candidate
With enough cash in tow now to make sure the nation’s grass roots are activated, the Republicans are initiating outreach to African Americans. The Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) was in Detroit recently to kick off a multi-city African American Economic Empowerment Tour. RNC chief Ed Gillespie has joined up with a group of African American business leaders with a message of economic opportunity and empowerment.
Teaming up with boxing promoter Don King, Texas Railroad Commissioner, Michael Williams, business CEO Lurita Doan and Miss America 2003, Erika Harold; the African American Economic Empowerment Tour plans stops in Philadelphia, New York and Miami. Gillespie says: "This economic tour is a great way to communicate President Bush's policies that are empowering African American entrepreneurs and small business owners. That’s great news, since a recent survey shows that 50 percent of African Americans are more likely to start a small business than the population as a whole”.
Don King got situated with the Republicans’ political rumble in March with a $25,000 a couple fundraiser for Gillespie’s RNC at his palatial mansion in Manalapan, Fla. The event raised almost $700,000 for the RNC and provided King entree to the RNC’s May gala in Washington which took in a record $38.5 million. President Bush presided, shaking hands with King and other major RNC fund-raisers.
King’s posture with the Republicans is a role more African Americans should consider. Like quintessential corporate executives, King is a major political switch-hitter. During the 2004 election cycle, King contributed to candidates in both parties. One of George W. Bush’s top Pioneer financial backers, King also gave to Democratic presidential hopefuls Richard Gephardt and Carol Moseley Braun.
Gillespie says: “It is not in my interest for 90 percent of black voters to support Democratic candidates in every election. More important, it is not in the interest of black voters". The problem Gillespie faces is that Republicans talk as if they support Don (and Martin Luther) King's visions of an equitable society, when their records and actions speak otherwise. Gillespie is not the first RNC chair to say he wants more Black Republicans, but many question whether Republicans really care about improving relations with African Americans. If the RNC wants to get more of the black vote, they desperately need to follow in Jack Kemp’s method of walking the walk and not just talking talk.
The contrast in political philosophy between the majority of African American and the base of the Republican Party are fundamental questions about affirmative actions and access in government, property, law and enforcements legal codes. During a speech at Howard University in early 2004, Kemp laid out points Republicans could use and secure a higher percentage of black votes. Kemp spoke of the significance of all Americans having equal access to capital; specifically education, ownership, employment, and health care. Kemp says economic empowerment is creating an opportunity for people to create their own wealth and to own property. He says he is coming from a radical, not conservative point of view, "I'm not speaking from a conservative perspective because it goes against the status quo," said Kemp. "Radical beliefs are the roots of what America is supposed to be."
African Americans are concerned that at the core of political conservatism is a resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality. Many view social conservatives as defenders of traditional values in opposition to changes in policies and programs that can accrue black equity. Roughly 10 percent of blacks vote Republican; but 27 percent are self-described conservatives, 44 percent are pro-life, 55 percent favor across-the-board tax cuts, 58 percent support private Social Security accounts and 70 percent favor school choice.
Chairman Gillespie’s outreach effort is nothing new. For nearly 40 years, there has been an aggressive effort by white conservatives to create a new cadre of black leaders to parrot their views on race relations. But, the right-wing campaign to create a new black leadership has floundered. Black Republican leadership that promotes broad-based enterprise and development is an outreach that can work. With an approach that connects ballots with bucks for blacks, the RNC should be able to enjoin with enough African Americans to capture 25 percent of their vote in the November elections.
© 2000-2004 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com