The National Black Republican Association (NBRA) has long been a pioneer in the arena of racial reconciliation. They have had a desire to break the race/party stalemate that has given the perception that all blacks are both politically liberal and Democrats. As part of their raison d’etre, they have published the history of the Republican Party, highlighting the party’s abolitionist roots. It has also trumpeted the courageous stand of early Republicans against racism and the KKK. Armed with this historic information, they have attempted for years to break the political strangle hold of the Democratic Party on the black community. They have spoken out against the “lemming syndrome” that has caused black voters to march mindlessly to their political deaths, behind unaccountable black leaders.
Despite the hard work and vigilance of this group, they have recently stepped on a political land mine. Last week, the NBRA embarrassed itself by stooping to race baiting and name-calling. They launched a regional radio campaign in several major markets that played the race card in a most unusual way. The first ad used its first six words to call Democrats “party racists.” Although I agree with their values and their history, I had to reject their methods. As I listened to ads and viewed the video presentation that accompanied these pieces at their web site, I was filled with many questions. I wondered how this group of business-minded blacks could have slipped so far from both their roots and their typically outstanding use of facts, data, and persuasive debate.
The overt use of name-calling and the racial stereotypes made me think that I was hearing the cry of a desperate organization. They seem to have bought into liberal predictions about the black vote in 2008 and beyond. The three false ideas follow along with an explanation as to why these ideas are not self-fulfilling policies. In addition, I will give the NBRA some advice about a new focus for their efforts.
1. The window of opportunity for Republicans to reach blacks may be closing.
Most pundits noted that the 2004 election marked a watershed moment for conservatives. Record numbers of black Christians voted for George Bush in the 2004 election because of black concerns about family breakdown, abortion, and other “moral values” issues.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.