“I can understand if you’re asking these questions as a devil’s advocate. But if you are having these questions, I have to question your conservatism.” – CL Bryant to me
The main reason I hadn’t waded into any political discussions on my blog is because this election cycle, I’m tired. The horserace aspect of it all doesn’t interest me. The “fate of the country as we know it” pseudo-import of it doesn’t interest me. The dialogue itself doesn’t interest me. Facebook, for example, encapsulates all of the problems, as “friendships” are reduced to labels and we conflate political discourse and personal attack. Every four years, we stop being people become labels to be vilified or demonized. Suddenly I’m not “Maurice,” I’m a political party or believe.
But writing the review of Runaway Slave has me thinking about a few issues, including the idea of being a Black Republican. [Black folks at the Democratic Convention-->]
My political journey is almost the mirror opposite of C.L. Bryant in the movie. I grew up in a (white) conservative church and had it drilled into my head that any right thinking Christian had no choice but to vote Republican (read: pro-life = WWJD). As such, my personal leanings tend to skew to the right. However, 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.
We give too much credence to the idea of being able to legislate our problems away; trusting too much in laws and too little in the corrupt nature of man. Republicans are going to (continue to) look racist if they simply scrap programs for the poor without having a different plan to replace it with. Democrats are going to (continue to) enable this co-dependent relationship that keeps a disproportionate amount of us suckling at the government’s teat.
Stepping on the necks of the poor all the while telling them to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps is BS and elitist: pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps is great, if you have boots. It’s like trying to come into a game of Monopoly after everyone else has been around the board a bunch of times. Nor can you just throw money at folks as the cure for poverty. We need better, more comprehensive strategies for dealing with poverty. [<-- Black folk at the Republican Convention]
I live in a state of tension: I don’t trust government, want it shrunk, but want it to do what it’s supposed to do. The government does have a role to play in things, after all: in spending on education, in supporting the working poor in their efforts to pull themselves up. Yet I also value personal responsibility. Our responsibility is to value education. We have a history as scientists, artists, business people, and explorers. More than being athletes, entertainers or drug dealers, education is the best sure route out of poverty.
President Obama took 95% of the Black vote in 2008. The Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies put the number of black delegates at the Republican convention at 46—about 2% of the delegate population (in 2008, only 36 of the 2,380 delegates seated on the convention floor were black, the lowest numbers since they have been tracked). And I can’t help but wonder just how many black people are in Mitt Romney’s inner circle.
Republicans can’t get out of their own way when it comes to being the messengers. Employing their Southern Strategy, gaining political support in the Southern section of the country by appealing to white fears (racism), seems inbred into their very DNA at this point. They like to play coy, being too smart by half using racially loaded language and imagery (from tar baby to throwing spears), yet telling themselves they’re not being racist. The way the party is presented, there’s neither an attempt to reach out to black votes nor an embrace of black voters. And, real world interactions have taught me that having a place where you feel you belong often trumps any differences in ideology. The Republican party needs to do more than stick a Negroes Welcome sign on their doors or else they’re going to be getting a lot more letters from former black conservatives.
Now back to my regular blogging …