Republican pundits often complain that minorities, particular African Americans, are tricked into believing that the Democrats have their best interests at heart. They counter that the Democratic Party has made the African American community dependent on handouts and softened standards that make it impossible for minorities to compete in the open market. It’s an interesting point, inherently flawed but undeniably interesting.
Most minority groups believe that Republicans just don’t care about their needs. Colin Powell once criticized the Republican Party for wanting to tell African Americans what they need rather than engage African American leaders in a discussion about what they want. And the truth is that the social programs Democrats have tried to implement fail because Republicans are consistently trying to dismantle them. Rather than offering some ideas on how to build upon affirmative action and use it to achieve true progress, Republican want to tear it down and let the open market dictate social progress. The problem is that we have already been there…it was called segregation.
Minority leaders insist that they are not biased against Republicans at all; the problem is that the Republican Party ignores them. This point was driven home Thursday night at the All-American Presidential Forum at Morgan State University. The debate was intended to showcase Republican candidates addressing issues important to the African American community. The top four Republican candidates declined to attend. According to moderator Tavis Smiley, some of the campaigns declined to participate because the crowd was expected to be hostile and unreceptive but the official excuse for skipping the event was scheduling conflicts.
Fred Thompson, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney were all busy raising money for their respective campaigns. Of course the six candidates who did show played to the crowd and took their shots at the front runners but Newt Gringrich even called them out stating that the invitations for the debate were sent out in March providing every candidate with ample opportunity to make proper arrangements. The four Republican front runners also skipped a forum earlier this summer hosted by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
While everybody acknowledges that the African American community is not likely to support a Republican candidate anytime soon, the snub drives home the point that Republicans just don’t care. Former Representative J.C. Watts, a rare African American Republican, characterized the decision not to participate as stupid and said that it reinforces the belief that race is an issue with most Republican candidates. The White House even released a statement reiterating the importance of reaching out to every community.
So why would these front running candidates have the audacity to skip such an event? The simple fact of the matter is that the heart and soul of the Republican Party is the angry white male. Listen to the pundits. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter all rail against minority groups and the programs that are designed to help them. In 2000 Karl Rove sabotaged John McCain’s campaign by calling registered Republican voters in the south and informing them that McCain was father to a biracial child. It was true that McCain had adopted a child from Asia but the implication was that McCain had a black child and McCain was slaughtered in the primaries. Republicans sell traditional values, which means life as it was before the Civil Rights movement. Yes the good old days when the blacks were at the back of the bus, the women were in the kitchen and it was perfectly legal to run queers out of town.
As much as the Republican Party wants to play up the big tent image, the money is coming from white people with white issues on their minds. Republicans don’t care about minorities. This recent snub proves it.