Friday, September 12, 2008

Can The Republican Party Survive Without Diversity?

During the Republican National Convention of 2000, the GOP flaunted diversity. There were minority speakers, performers and delegates galore. The Republicans were trying to meet the challenge of presenting the “illusion of inclusion.” With this presentation, it allowed them to make an argument that the Democrats are taking the minority vote, specifically the Black vote, for granted.

In 2004, 290 of the party’s 4853 delegates and alternates were African American. This year that number dropped significantly. As the cameras panned the audience of the Xcel Energy Center, in Minneapolis, MN, it became apparent to the viewers that the audience did not look like the majority of Americans. It was obvious to viewers that the demographic was age 50+ and white. The numbers indicate that there were only 2300 delegates and 36 were African American. Based on the projected number of minorities in this country by 2040 which will out number their white counterparts, how does the GOP intend to survive?

Historically, African Americans were drawn to the Republican Party because it was the party of Lincoln. By the 1940s, the pendulum began to swing. Blacks began to leave the party because of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had brought the country out of the Depression Era with the New Deal. The New Deal provided programs such as Social Security, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) and the Federal Housing Administration (FDA). These programs were successful for getting the country back on track and offered equal access and relief to minorities who also had the obstacle of ‘Jim Crow’ in the South. Because of the New Deal, many whites felt that this was allowing Blacks to advance which caused their support to weaken in the Democratic Party. Also, Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, was an asset to the Democrats because she was socially progressive.

The other defining decision of minorities to convert happened in 1948 at the Democratic National Convention. As noted above, white support was already weakening in the Democratic Party. During the 1948 Democratic National Convention, Southern delegates were upset by President Harry S. Truman's executive order to racially integrate the armed forces. The Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hubert Humphrey gave a speech urging the party to adopt an anti-segregationist plank, causing thirty five delegates from Mississippi and Alabama to walk out. When President Truman endorsed the civil rights plank, governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond helped organize the walkout delegates into a separate party, whose platform was ostensibly concerned with states' rights.

The group of walkouts became formerly known as the Dixicrats. Their slogan was “segregation forever.” Although the Dixicrats dissolved after 1948, they assimilated into the Republican Party. When members like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms switched their party affiliation to Republican, their legacy remained imprinted on the minds of minorities. Although Republicans adopted a “conservative platform,” many see their policies and views comparable of those of the former ‘states rights party.’

Lastly, minorities’ affinity to the Democratic Party was sealed in the 1960s with the signing of the Civil & Voting Rights Act which abolished segregation and allowed all people to vote without intimidation. With the influence of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Nominee of 1964, the Republicans adopted their conservative platform based on the principles of his book, 'The Conscience of the Conservative.' His book outlined his opposition to Civil Rights. As a Senator, he voted against it because he did not agree with Title II which outlawed discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accomodations engaged in interstate commerce. Republicans aligned themselves as "Goldwater Conservatives." In the 1980s, these values were reshaped by Reagan. As the demographics of the country changes, it will be hard for the Republicans to move center away from their core structure in order to attract a culturally mixed base.

On Sunday (09/07/08), John McCain was on CBS Face The Nation. He was asked by Bob Schieffer, “how can you survive as a party if you become just the party of white people?”

Although McCain exclaims that he will become "the president of everybody,” it is not convincing when he is unable to answer questions like, “what have you done to improve lives of African-Americans?”

It will be hard to convince minorities to consider the Republican Party, if the party continues to practice the same politics. With that said, how will the RNC survive?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why Did McCain Announce His VP Nominee On August 29, 2008?

There are two distinct reasons for this occurrence.

First, on August 28, 2008, Barack Obama made an exceptional acceptance speech. Even the harshest of critics had a hard time attacking it. In order to eliminate the positive coverage and impact of the speech, McCain had to change the media coverage cycle. The way to do this was to announce his Vice Presidential Nominee the following day.

Secondly, McCain celebrated his 72nd birthday on August 29th. It went without any fanfare and barely mentioned in the media. His campaign did not want to bring additional attention to his age.

Because he is a 4-time cancer survivor who just turned 72, his choice for the #2 spot is now a major factor because of his age. Although no one anticipates the worse for Senator McCain, if he becomes president and an unforeseen fatal event occurs, Sarah Palin would be president. Is Palin ready to lead?

What Barack Obama's Speech Meant?

While in Denver, I'd heard a rumor the day before the anticipated speech that a line would begin forming at Invesco Field at approximately 10am. Pursuant the tickets, gates would open at 1pm with the event starting at 3pm. The Democratic Presidential Nominee, Barack Obama, would take the stage at 8pm. I knew instantly, that there was no way I could sit out there that long.

I arrived at Invesco Field minutes before Stevie Wonder took the stage which was about 5:30pm. I had taken my time roaming the 16th Street Mall, eating and picking up souvenirs. Fortunately, when I arrived there were no tremendous lines. The stadium was packed. As I approaching my section, I was given a flag and sat down. Later, signs with ‘CHANGE’ also included the Obama campaign website were distributed.

The crowd was incredible. There was an indescribable love in the air which I felt on the streets of Denver earlier in the day. People had a general respect for one another. During those hours in the stadium and into the next day, everyone present was on a natural high. This being the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, for once in my life, I felt that his dream had been fulfilled. It appeared that people saw people and not the color of their skin. For a moment, the crowd began chanting ‘Si Se Puedes.’ The lady next to me asked, what are they saying? I replied ‘Yes We Can’ in Spanish. With that, she began to chant too. I smiled because I realized that this is what his dream was all about.

As I sat there, I also remembered that August 28th was the date of the assassination of Emmitt Till. He was just 14 years old when he was killed because he whistled at a white woman. After his mother decided on an open casket which revealed her son's mangled body, his death in 1955 catapulted the civil rights movement. That incident started a chain of events which eventually evolved into the August 28, 1963 March on Washington.

While Barack Obama was outlining his platform and how he actually plans to bring change to the White House, for many, he brought back memories of a time gone and hope for the future of this country. At that moment in time, on August 28, 2008, he embodied the past and the future of America.

"We cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done... At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future." - Senator Barack Obama, August 28, 2008