As Republican Party state officials across the country continue to give restrictive Jim Crow voter ID laws the modern spin, their cohorts on the national level are reportedly reaching out to a certain sect of the Black community. But how do you “reach out” to a community you’re purposely trying to keep away from the voting polls? Exactly.
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In a recent piece for New York magazine, writer Grace Wyler reports on the GOP doing “something historic at an Evangelical confab in Iowa.” That would be an organized attempt at drawing the Black Christian vote with the aid of Black church leaders. As pointed out in the report, it’s not exactly a brand-new concept. After all, former President George W. Bush made similar attempts during his time in office.
Still, the GOP is taking it one step further — organizing as a party versus just allowing its candidate do the leg work for them.
And yet, it feels even more laughable now than it did then:
But in Iowa last Friday, minority church leaders finally got a seat at the table, when a group of about 20 Black and Hispanic pastors joined 400 Iowa evangelicals in Des Moines for a two-day Christian Right confab. The pastors heard speeches from Senate Tea Party darlings Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and sat down with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to discuss how the GOP could better establish relationships with churchgoers in Black and Hispanic communities.
You read that right: The wing of the Republican Party responsible for “Birtherism” is leading the charge on outreach to Black people of faith with the aid of the RNC chair who has enabled them and all of their racist rhetoric. Zoom, look at them go, y’all.
Republican strategists said that Friday’s meeting was the first time in recent memory that the Party has made a concerted effort to include Black and Hispanic church leaders in developing the GOP’s minority outreach strategy. While individual candidates — most notably former President George W. Bush — have brought on Black Christian leaders to advise their campaign strategies, the party proper has lacked a cohesive plan to build relationships with Black and Hispanic Evangelicals in between election cycles.
Former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts has long pushed his party to reach out to minority voters. In the article, Watts laments, “The party has done very little to bring Black and Hispanic Evangelicals in to the fold. If you’re going to tell me that’s too harsh, then I’ll say, Fine. They’ve not done much. You can probably put in to a thimble what the RNC has done to create any kind of network.”
He went on to add, “It’s about having relationships, and that covers a multitude of sins. People will extend more grace, they’re more willing to listen, if you have a relationship with them … If Evangelicals trust you, then they will give you a little more latitude.”
But, but, but, but: What Black person with a clue is going to trust a party that is blatantly trying to keep other Black people from voting? Is that not the beginning, middle, and end of this story?
If not, how about the rampant racism that continues to dominant much of the Republican culture? It was only a few weeks ago that Rand Paul let go of his Abraham Lincoln-hating staffer with a soft spot for seemingly racist views. Plus, Rand Paul will forever be the guy who is on record for being against the Civil Rights Act.
If this is the kind of person that can be a presumed presidential front-runner in your party, what kind of inroads with the Black community can you truly expect the GOP to make?
Are Blacks to magically forget all of that because Rand Paul can whisper sweet nothings about God’s glory? I’ve been taught about Jesus performing miracles, but I doubt the Father, the son, or the holy spirit can help the Black community to vote for them. If you believe otherwise…I’ll pray for you.
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Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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