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Why the GOP Fails to Reach the Black Community

In spite of the prominence of black Tea Party conservatives, the Republicans remain clueless.

by
Duane Lester

Bio

September 17, 2011 - 12:00 am
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In 2008, 96 percent of black voters pulled the lever for Barack Obama. His current approval rating in the black community shows a possible, albeit slim, vulnerability — one that Florida Congressman Allen West is ready to exploit.

On a recent episode of Fox News’ The O’Reilly FactorWest said Democrats have had black voters sequestered on a modern day plantation, and they are upset because “they have been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about.”

West claims to be “the modern day Harriet Tubman to kind of lead people on the Underground Railroad away from that plantation….” The problem is, as West notes, the Republican Party’s outreach “has not done very well in reaching out.”

To some black conservatives, that’s an understatement of epic proportions.

Timothy Johnson is the chairman and founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation. He is less than impressed with the Republican Party’s outreach efforts:

I’m a past party official, so I can speak from in house party politics. The short answer is the party sucks at it. That’s the bottom line. The party when it comes down to the black community is doing a terrible job, and is still doing a terrible job.

Johnson said that the GOP may have done a little better under the leadership of Michael Steele, but the current leadership has simply given up on getting black votes:

I have candidates who are honest with me and they say, “Tim, I’ve had people tell me ‘Don’t worry about the black community.’” That pisses me off. When they are honest with me and say, ‘Tim, we’ve been told, ‘Don’t worry about going to the black community, they’re not going to vote for you anyway,’” that’s a bold faced lie. You don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I’m an American.

Chris Arps, co-founder of Move-On-Up, a “social network of African American conservatives and moderates,” says GOP outreach efforts are very superficial, saying they are simply

designed to siphon off a few votes or to force the Democratic candidate to spend resources in the black community that he ordinarily wouldn’t spend.

If the party isn’t willing to make the effort, the onus then falls on individuals. Rep. Allen West is volunteering, but is he the right man for the job?

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