I’m a black Republican. I know what you think that means (<–). Politically I think I lean to the right, though apparently my love for social justice and environmental concerns doesn’t allow me to exist there comfortably. I believe in personal responsibility and the community taking care of its poor. I’m a capitalist who believes that with great wealth comes great responsibility, and spending has to be tempered with compassion. I think that Democrats take the black vote for granted and the Republicans have written off the black vote. And I want my taxes cut.
Here’s the thing: apparently the Republicans don’t want my vote. Despite the fact that the country rapidly diversifies, the Republican convention far from reflected that. Only 36 of the 2,380 delegates seated on the convention floor were black, the lowest numbers since they have been tracked. We saw visual evidence of no black Republican having served as governor, senator, or house member in the last six years. On a personal level, the historical significance of casting a vote for the first legitimate black presidential candidate hasn’t been lost on me.
But I’m not going to vote for someone just because of their color. I could only imagine the outrage if a white person, regardless of party, announced they were voting for a white candidate because of a white pride moment.
I still find myself comfortable with the idea of voting for Obama since his message of change and hope resonate with me and I’m a big fan of intelligent candidates displaying their intelligence, not condescending to play at being “the average Joe” when clearly anyone running for the Presidency has long been removed from the story of the average American. It’s not like I have abandoned my values. I’m still pro-life, lower taxes, strong defense and strong families. I think the main reason I’m comfortable with the prospect of President Obama is because I’m tired of political labels over-simplifying people’s positions. The label put on me is pro-life, but that simplifies my more nuanced position. I don’t know anyone who advocates America having a weak defense. And I don’t know any candidate that runs on a weak family platform.
President Bush captured 8 % of the black vote in 2000 and 11% in 2004. Maybe the Republicans are writing off the black vote moreso than usual this year. Still, if they’re not going to try, they have less room to complain when we don’t show up at the table. I’m a black Republican, but I’m more than my label. Memo to both parties: black votes count.