For generations now African American and minority voters around the country have been loath to even consider associating with the Republican Party. But can you blame us?
The white fright fallout from President Barack Obama's reelection has been nothing short of jaw dropping. From the Florida man who is believed to have killed himself, leaving a "will" that read only, "F*** Obama" to the thousands of racist tweets referring to Obama as a "n*gger" and a "monkey" to the riot at the University of Mississippi where white students hurled racial slurs at people of color and set fires across campus, the furor over the 2012 election is unlike anything I've ever seen.
But I'm confident that was all just the vociferous death rattle of the modern-day Republican Party. Once again, the Republicans are faced with the reality of a changing America and one hopes they have realized and accepted that they must change with it.
The extremists won't like it, but the Republicans' top brass know they will come along eventually, even if they have to be dragged kicking and screaming. To paraphrase the fictional Senator Jay Billington Bulworth, "What are they gonna do, vote Democrat?"
Like the overwhelming defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964, the numbers of the 2012 election don't lie and those whose job it is to get Republicans elected have likely already started the transformation of the party from one led by Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Perry to one led by yet undiscovered reasonable Republicans across the country who have been in hiding since the tea party reared its odious head in 2010.
It's funny how history repeats itself. A cursory glance at Goldwater's failed attempts to tap into to the worst elements of a white society that saw itself becoming less and less representative of the country could've predicted this. As Bill O'Reilly so astutely pointed out on election night, "It's not a traditional America anymore."
The smart guys in GOP war rooms around the country know that it never will be again.
The best thing about the death of today's radically insane Republican Party is that perhaps minority voters can actually have a choice in what candidates we vote for.
The basic tenets of the party -- strong family values, a limited federal government and individual and fiscal responsibility -- are all things intelligent and engaged black, Latino, GLBT and Asian voters can get behind, provided they aren't just thinly veiled code words that really mean "You scare us, and we don't like you."
That thinly veiled message has been, in essence, what the GOP has been running on since the '50s.
The now-deceased former Republican strategist and head of the RNC Lee Atwater best explained the strategy in an anonymous 1981 interview he gave to political scientist Alexander P. Lamis.
"You start out in 1954 by saying, 'N*gger, n*gger, n*gger,'" Atwater said of the Republican's so-called Southern Strategy.
"By 1968 you can't say 'n*gger' -- that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff," he continued. "You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me -- because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'N*gger, n*gger.'"
That strategy officially died on November 6, 2012. The elders in our communities who lived through the arguments over forced busing and states' rights saw it for what it was. And now that we've all seen a member of a minority group that represents only 13 percent of the country win the White House with only 39 percent of support from white voters, there's no way it's coming back.
"We need to acknowledge the fact that we got beat," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in an interview. "We clearly got beat and we need to recognize that."
I, for one, would love to join the new Republican Party. This year, President Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate in 36 years to skip the NAACP convention. He cited "scheduling conflicts" that were sketchy at best to justify his absence and neither Obama nor Mitt Romney mentioned the poor once in their presidential debates. Behavior like this is likely why the president has been ducking Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, who have been the only ones to take him to task on the issue.
This should have cost him some votes in black and Latino communities. Yet the dogmatic insanity and often poorly disguised racial antipathy demonstrated by Republicans over the years have obfuscated any good ideas they may have had and drowned out their voice in communities of color. The new Republican Party can change that.
Conversations about individual freedom, personal liberty and a more responsive and more effective government that solves problems on an individual level, rather than through massive federal bureaucracy need to be had in our communities, but it's impossible to have them with a party we just don't trust.
African Americans were historically Republicans, proud members of the party of Abraham Lincoln, The Great Emancipator. Southern Democrats like George Wallace led the charge against civil rights and it wasn't until the ill-fated candidacy of Goldwater that we largely made the switch to Democrats and Democratic policies.
We need to have real conversations about immigration, but we can't have them with people who believe anyone who looks "illegal" should self-deport or be subject to wanton search and seizure.
We need to have real conversations about reducing dependence on Medicaid and public assistance, but we can't have them with a party whose representatives call the first African-American commander-in-chief the food stamp president or The Magic Negro. We certainly aren't interested in conversations with people who have so little respect for a black man in the Oval Office that they shout "You lie!" at him during the State of the Union address.
We need to tackle our country's debt and deficit spending, but we can't have that discussion with people who insist on opposing our loved ones' right to marry who they choose or serve openly in the military.
There are plenty of good Republican ideas that could set us on a path for a better future. They're ideas that myself and other people of color could and would support if they were presented by a party that wasn't trying to keep us from voting, using us as a scare tactic and accusing us of being incapable of voting intelligently.
As this nation of immigrants becomes a nation of darker-skinned immigrants, Republicans are going to need our support if they want to retain any hope of being relevant in the 21st century. Here's hoping they take the lessons of the 2012 election to heart.