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August 09, 2004

The Scariest Thing

The scariest thing about being a black Republican of my sort has to do with alienation from Old School partisans on the other side of the fence. Advocates like Faye Anderson who failed to succeed with Republicans can be de-emphasized, however women like Wilma A. Lewis must be taken more seriously. I find it difficult to believe that someone like Ms. Lewis would be a big partisan, but I find it equally difficult to believe that she might be a Republican from way back.

What if 80% of blacks in the 99th percentile were all Democrats? What if they have decided that more diversified political power is simply not worth pursuing?

Nevertheless, much of this has to do with integration. In my lifetime, the very thought that there would be black fatcat bankers or Wall Street brokers and traders seemed impossible to believe. And when I joined, with leagues of others, the corridors of Corporate America (that's what we used to call it back then), we hardly expected to find managers anywhere but in Personnel. Line managers with signing authority and huge budgets were still considered in league with The Man. They were the guys who kept "last hired, first fired" alive in the self-defeating ghetto mentality many of us used to share. That has changed, as has the attitude of line managers towards blacks, whether or not they themselves are black.

So while it's reasonable to expect that blacks in the big fat powerful law firms might mostly be of the dyed in the wool Democratic and Civil Rights defender variety, I look forward to the day when other sorts will be just as easily found. In the meantime, my elitist suckup senses are quivering. What if it's just Don King?

Posted by mbowen at August 9, 2004 04:53 PM

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Your dismissal of Faye Anderson reeks.

Especially, as I know it, since she put her time in the trenches.

The Richardsons, who spent time helping the Bush campaign, and who headed "Headway Magazine" and who gave Clarence Thomas a dinner celebration that was broadcast on C-SPAN, also left the Republican party for similar reasons as did Faye Anderson.

Posted by: DarkStar at August 9, 2004 05:12 PM

I don't dismiss Faye Anderson. I just say she quit. God knows that PoliticallyBlack got a whole lot more press than we've managed with KIR or the Brotherhood.

There is a very important question which is embedded in the failure of Faye Anderson and previous black Republicans, and that is determined by the amount of agenda which is black whick the Republican party is permanently inimical to. I can't say with any certainty what that is on either side - that's why I'm here giving the whole thing the benefit of a doubt.

What is the difference between Faye Anderson and Alan Keyes? Why is Keyes still in it and Anderson is not? Is it because Keyes is less black? OK define black? Is it because Keyes can absorb criticism that Anderson cannot? Is it because Anderson has higher standards of success?

Until such questions are answered, I don't know what kind of judgements can be made about Anderson vis a vis blacks and the Republican Party. Why does she get to represent and Keyes does not? Is the black experience so singular that we have to take any black person's conflict with Republicans as the real deal?

Bottom line is neither of them Keyes or Anderson is going to condescend to come over here and answer the question. All we know is party rhetoric and rumors. So we just continue on in our own ideas and aspirations - our best guesses on what the inside looks like.

What I'm ultimately trying to avoid is the hypocrisy of the Democrats who pretend to be for the little guy, when rich black Democrats have little or nothing to do with them in the upper ranges of the party. I don't see why the richest black Democrats, for example, aren't defending Jesse Jackson to the grave. What's the difference between him and them? Black liberal guilt is in no way superior to white liberal guilt.

But if the rich powerful blacks are saying, dammit the Republicans have all the goods but they won't let us in, then that's what is scary. However I tend to believe that the rich powerful blacks can get anything they want and the Republicans are neither a hindrance nor a help - they don't need what the GOP has nor do they need what the Dems have, they simply hang with the Dems as a matter of convenience and habit.

So what's the deal?

Posted by: Cobb at August 9, 2004 06:41 PM

Let me say one more thing. I tend to believe that Anderson quit the GOP because she failed to lead a populist groundswell, and the stark irony of that failure in contrast to other 'big tent' actions by the GOP was too much of a slap in the face. Basically Anderson had decided that the time had come for blacks to make a big move but neither blacks nor the GOP were interested.

Myself, I just assume that a small minority of blacks are ultimately interested in the Republican party - an elitist 15% based on class interests who feel hated on by Democrat crabs. That's perfectly acceptable to me, although I know a Colin Powell could change the whole equation.

Posted by: cobb at August 9, 2004 06:47 PM

OK, now I have a better understanding. Thanks for that.

What is the difference between Faye Anderson and Alan Keyes?

1. Keyes is concerned about a platform; and
2. Keyes is in it for himself.

I can't say the same about Anderson.

Posted by: DarkStar at August 9, 2004 07:13 PM

Addressing common ground between black conservatives and moderates across party lines is a key goal of our website. It helps that we are politically independent, and vote across various political parties though.

I don't think it's fair to say that Faye Anderson simply quit. If all these folks are leaving the GOP (or stepping down from key GOP roles, as did J.C. Watts) then something is there. Yet as we've said - until black conservatives and moderates start working far more on the ground in black communities, then this bridge ain't gonna be more successful. A more critical mass must occur, or more folks will burn out or tire of GOP tokenism.

A question that I would pose: why do you feel that most blacks should belong to either major political party? We should be swing voters and not be loyal to anyone.

Posted by: molotov at August 10, 2004 07:50 PM

JC Watts became one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress. How easily we dismiss him.

I think going to the republican party is like moving to a new neighborhood. How is it that you suddenly can't stand the house you bought, simply because everyody from your old neighborhood didn't move along with you?

Posted by: cobb at August 10, 2004 10:38 PM

Based on J.C. Watts' autobiography, I'd argue that he became one of the GOP's most powerful figureheads. He outlines how behind the scenes, he was often undermined (especially on race-related issues) and called up for TV when it was "let's-parade-the-negro" time. It played no small role in his decision to step down.

Personally, I just don't think party politics is worth all this struggle. Both major political parties have historically messed us over. The best defensive (and offensive) tactic for black folks is to vote for candidates, not party.

P.S. you may not like your new house not because your ol' neighborhood pals didn't move along with you. Rather, because the house you bought appeared to have a strong foundation and a diverse design that you liked - until you were later surprised with its actual rickety foundation and cracks in the walls.

Posted by: molotov at August 10, 2004 11:47 PM

Molotov's comments on Watts nails it.

From comments I heard about Watts from Black GOP Hill staffers, he was not very efficient.

His "signature" program, the Community Investment Act, floundered for 3 years until another Republican took control of it, with Watts' blessing, and got it through.

Watts was told when he first submitted the bill, with Gingrich's blessings, that there was problems with it that need to be addressed before it would get out of committee. He didn't do the work required to get it out of comittee.

Posted by: DarkStar at August 11, 2004 05:33 AM