While RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has done nothing, I repeat nothing, but talk for six months about how he's going to attract more minority voters to the party. He thought he would keep up the charade at the RNC's spring meeting in Los Angeles.
In a move meant to pander to blacks, the RNC invited black actress Stacey Dash to its meeting, to pose for pictures with Priebus. I guess Priebus wanted to prove he's down with brown people.
--Conservative commentator Crystal Wright, April, 2013
And she's right (small 'r') to a certain degree. But Wright isn't down with "Brown" people either.
There is absolutely a deficiency in the minority quotient of the Republican Party. Part of why Mitt Romney was unsuccessful in 2012 was inextricably linked to a failed strategy of pandering to the extreme right; presenting all others as either a drain on the economy (makers vs. takers/47 percent) or outright ignorant in nature ("low-information voters"). Pandering fails, sincerity always matters. It works both ways.
In the time since RNC Chairman Priebus announced an extensive plan of action to court minority voters, a fair person can acknowledge both positive strides and stumbles. These days, the party leadership forcefully and dare I say convincingly has repudiated racial ignorance like "cantaloupe calves" when spewed by Congressman Steve King of Iowa.
Dr. Bridget Melson of the Pleasanton Tea Party (largest Tea Party in Western U.S.) has for many years worked with African-American leaders in the community and media across the country; making her case, without racial animus. In fact, she continues to work diligently in dispelling Tea Party stereotypes, long before the umbrella party thought it was a good idea.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is now consistently engaging African-Americans on our terms, in our media and our college campuses. We can disagree with the contents of one's message, but we can also credit the consistency and respectful dialogue thus far.
For far too long, there has been this lie that African-Americans largely vote Democrat for reasons wholly related to the 1960s or color of candidates. Neither has ever been the case. The reasons why African-Americans have voted "Blue" in the intervening 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement has always been related to the policies forwarded and the practices employed by the Republican Party. Phrases like "Southern Strategy" and "Repealing the Voting Rights Act" come to mind.
In previous years we didn't support Republican gubernatorial candidates Lynn Swann, Ken Blackwell or senatorial candidates Michael Steele or Alan Keyes and we couldn't care less that they were black. In truth we barely supported Jesse Jackson for president either time and laughed at Al Sharpton attempting the same. Here in Los Angeles in 2013, African-Americans didn't support Democratic candidate Jan Perry, who finished fourth behind three other white candidates in a bid for mayor. Or, how white Congresswoman Janice Hahn beat out black incumbent Laura Richardson to represent a largely minority district, one which includes Watts, San Pedro and Wilmington. It's a stereotype which is simply untrue.
It is and has always been about policies and practices.
African-Americans have always been clear that the Republicans' support of Voter ID laws and limitation of early voting disproportionately disenfranchises our community. Republicans have spent an inordinate amount of time fighting against the non-existent bogeyman of voter fraud and lecturing us about "black on black" crime; yet simultaneously disregard dealing with the real monster of gun violence. We get it, voting rights are okay to limit, gun rights aren't. We get "it" and you get the side-eye in return. You are against abortion rights in Texas, but are cool with running out of the poison to execute inmates in the same state. You're for the sanctity of life but are trying for the 40th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act; because quality of life (after we get here) isn't all that important to you. We're clear you want our votes but not so clear you share our political values.
Also, the loudest and seemingly lauded so-called "black Republicans" simply spew the same vile rhetoric of election cycles past. If the GOP truly wishes to have more African-Americans join the Republican movement, then it must distance itself from the Crystal Wright's of the world; the wanna-be Ann Coulter of black conservatism.
The self-professed "triple minority: woman, black and a Republican" has been a rising "star" and staple of cable news shows and pundit panels, maligning everyone from Oprah to Sybrina Fulton, purely for self-aggrandizement.
Her tweet regarding the Zimmerman trial:
Martin family+media time to move on from this manufactured race war. Or get on w/writing your books."
And for her ignorance, she is rewarded with slots on prime time cable media.
Or... alleging that President Obama threw blacks a "Race Bone." Yes, doing your best Limbaugh impression should do wonders in recruiting minorities.
Such vitriol may sound great to the fervent Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity supporters; but it does nothing to engender you to reasonable and responsible African-American voters. Attacking African-Americans (be you black or white) on wholly unpolitical issues loses you communities and constituencies, not gains them. It fit well within a pre-2012 GOP election strategy but is horribly out of alignment with any supposed Republican outreach in 2013.
And therein lies the historical problem of recruiting "black" Republicans. The familiar anti-African-American rhetoric coming instead from African-Americans doesn't make it any less insulting or more appealing. Congressman Allen West's "plantation" remarks have been rebuked just as roundly as Dr. Cornel West's "plantation" remarks by those of us within the community.
Note the consistency.
African-American pundits know they can make a name for themselves very quickly by trumpeting vile, anti-African-American rhetoric. It doesn't win votes for the party, but elevates the orator individually. It's why you see Larry Elder, Jesse Lee Peterson and Crystal Wright et al. lead the way on cable news, offering commentary most often on the failings of the African-American community or its supposed lack of political savvy; but not engaging in substantive dialogue in a competition of ideas to win votes.
But back to Crystal Wright...
And Republicans don't even know... she's a fraud. Congratulations Republicans, you've been duped. She's not a "black Republican."
Can you really call yourself "Conservative Black Chick" with matching website when it's widely known you voted for Barack Obama to become president in 2008? In fact, she acknowledged as much at a small, private Georgetown University reunion mixer we both attended in 2009. Are you really the standard-bearer and flag-waiver of conservative principles given that reality? When and where did this epiphany take place? 2009? 2010?
Or possibly, never at all. But wait... there's more.
Can you really go from being a lifelong Democrat to true-believer, far-right Conservative Republican inside of ONE midterm election cycle? ONE? This is the same woman who pledged:
$500.00 for Democrat Bill Nelson for Senate on June 30, 2008
$250.00 for Democrat Kendrick Meek for Senate on June 30, 2010
(As verified by CampaignMoney.com)
Not only that, Wright was part of a lobby group for Meek under the auspices of subsidizing home medical equipment. Wright not only vehemently voted Democrat but also put her money behind it.
That would be the same Kendrick Meek that political portal Ontheissues.org lists as a "hard-core liberal." It wasn't until July 31, 2010 that Wright financially supported ANY Republican candidate.
Conservative Black Chick? Black, yes... Chick... yes... Conservative?
Um... not so much.
If we turn around and check the tote board, Wright was voting for Democratic candidates like Obama as late as November 2008 and Kendrick Meek as late as November 2010. How very "conservative" of her.
Her byline should read "Conservative... since sometime last year or so... maybe.
Well done Republicans, say hello to your loudest voice in support of "Black Conservatism." The former Democratic operative is single-handedly KILLING the Republican minority outreach she supposedly supports. Show me one staunch conservative with a verified history of supporting President Obama and other "hard-core liberals" like Meek.
As for her political epiphany...
Evidently somewhere along the way, Wright realized that she could not be a "star" on the left, espousing her "political ideals" and switched to the right (at least publicly). It was on October 4, 2010 that http://conservativeblackchick.com was born. Click HERE. She founded it ONE month before voting for Kendrick Meek in the Florida senate election, three months after donating to his campaign. That's saying nothing about her many editorials lambasting Democrats in 2009 as part of the FrumForum.
The political schizophrenia demonstrated by Wright is both exhausting and revealing.
To be clear, it's not that African-Americans should be shunned for espousing Republican ideals pledging allegiance to the GOP. Absolutely not. It's that those who are clearly fraudulent in their positioning and vile in their rhetoric (such as Wright) should not be allowed to hijack the dialogue. She is not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination and employs the same racial identity politics so reviled by the GOP, but only in reverse.
She wants to be on to TV. Applauding what she has to say is contributing to the failure of the Republican party. Democrats don't want her and Republicans shouldn't either.
The problem confronting the GOP is the perceived lack of sincerity in its efforts, relative to the platform it puts forth. If the party can't effectively separate itself from the lunacy of Crystal Wright, the politically ignorant and non-astute like actress and underwear model Stacey Dash, then yes... the party hasn't learned anything about African-Americans. We're not in search of black faces repeating exactly what was said previously by the white ones. Trust me, we aren't.
We're in search of meaningful inclusion and substantive competition for our votes on a policy level. I suggest the GOP figures it out soon and very soon, or the midterms will be more of what we saw in 2012.
Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of "The Mo'Kelly Show" on KFI AM640/XM Satellite and "Mo'Kelly in the Morning" on KTLK AM1150. The Mo'Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and all commentary is welcome.