Friday, September 28, 2007

Are Republican Candidates Racists?

After the debacle of missing the Republican debate hosted by Tavis Smiley at the HBC, Morgan State University by the four front-running Republican candidates it would be easy to dismiss their failure to participate as racism. Many pundits and bloggers have made that connection, with many saying that unlike their good friend Bill O’Reilly these candidates still believe that the “negroes will not be well-behaved” and there is a difference. I think to take this tack is to misunderstand the state of racial affairs in America. With the stakes as high as they are and with the spotlight beaming on race relations thanks to our friends in Jena, La, would any candidate be stupid enough to be so blatantly racist? Maybe, but I doubt it, so what is the answer to them being willing to ignore the black voters of America and not worry about backlash?

I am afraid the true answer is much more frightening than the easy answer. Many people believe falsely I think that the opposite of love is hate or racism, but I disagree. I think that the opposite of love is indifference. Indifference says that I don’t care if you live or die just don’t bother me. In the story of "The Good Samaritan" the other travelers didn't hate the victim; they just didn't care enough to get involved. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of many of the “core base” of the Republican Party and it was expressed by their candidates in their refusal to participate in the debate. It isn’t that they hate, they just really don’t care.

This attitude of indifference is most profoundly directed at Blacks and immigrants, but it is also directed toward anyone that doesn’t share their religious and moral beliefs as well. By their refusal to participate in the debate the candidates and the Party by proxy sent the message that the Black vote is irrelevant; you people don’t matter. Your concerns are not our concerns. We will ignore you and hope you go away. These are the people who want to keep us divided and easy conquered. They use subtle code words to express their displeasure with the way “liberals” have allowed the country to be commandeered by Blacks and other minorities. They would rather we return to some historical nirvana when the “white privilege” went unquestioned, when Blacks and minorities knew their places. When they were seen and not heard.

I am sure these candidates did not want to have to answer questions about Jena, voter suppression drives, and other issues that affect minorities. By not allowing themselves to be questioned on these issues the candidates sent a message to their base that these questions were unimportant and not worthy of their responses.

It is a common belief among Republican pundits and campaign staffers that Blacks will vote overwhelmingly Democratic and therefore to lobby them would be a wasted effort. They speak as if Blacks were some mindless group of voters who are not independent enough or intelligent enough to weigh the issues and vote accordingly. Many also believe that Blacks for the most part don’t vote anyway so the cost/benefit numbers don’t add up. The cost being possibly alienating their “base” and the benefit being gaining a few million votes, obviously these staffers have forgotten how close the last two elections have been. In a country divided as we are, every vote is going to count.

Finally, I think another important element in all of this is what the “base” of the Republican Party must be that their candidates can be this indifferent towards a large group of Americans and it does not bother them. If appealing to your base means ignoring blacks and minorities, then what are the priorities of your base? More and more of the Republican strategists believe that the black vote can be ignored in favor of cultivating the southern and rural white voters, these same voters who split with the Democrats over civil rights and abortion. Obviously, they believe that there are enough of these voters to overcome any impact black voters may have for the Democrats. Besides, these guys are trying to win primaries and let’s face it there won’t be many blacks voting in Republican primaries. I think it would be hilarious if all the mindless black voters switched parties for the primaries and voted in the Republican primaries, wouldn’t that be fun?

It is unfortunate when politicians are pandering to the baser nature of humanity instead of seeking to educate and promote unity among all Americans. The reason racism is still alive and well in America is because no one really wants to end it. Right now it serves too many purposes for too many people, both black and white. Maybe someday the truth of who and what we are will finally penetrate our hard heads, but until then. I can’t wait to see how whoever the Republican nominee will be try to spin this come general election time and what self-respecting black would allow themselves to be used to sell the spin. Our politicians should be demonstrating to all Americans how to embrace the diversity of the country, not how to run from it, because guess what we ain’t going nowhere.

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