Democrats & Liberals Archives

How To Play The Race Card Effectively

Only in a manipulated Rovian world where the compulsory official language is Luntz-speak, could the closeted chairman of the Republican National Committee actually seek to peel away Black voters from the Democrats with a one-two sales pitch of ‘faith-based’ payoffs, while exploiting generational ignorance and intolerance over the gay marriage issue.

So, it is only fitting that the alleged indifference shown by George Bush (based on racial prejudices) in response to Hurricane Katrina, has devastated his standing among Black Americans in the widely reported NBC/WSJ Poll - and should therefore, relegate Ken Mehlman's bold outreach initiative to the Social Security Overhaul dustbin.

Are Bush's approvals among Blacks really at 2% percent? Doubt it. How come? Because, a consistent 8-10% percent of Republican Black voters will feel no empathy or connection to those angry dark faces from the New Orleans' Superdome. Do I think Bush hates Black people? No. But, I've not yet seen convincing evidence that he either cares for or respects the Evangelical Right that got him elected twice, for that matter.

In November 2004, George Bush improved his electoral numbers among Black voters by +2% (11% percent), making his slim margin of victory all that more infuriating to stomach. And, given Ken Mehlman's diabolical plan to raid the Democratic base of black voters (pre-Hurricane Katrina), projecting 14-16% percent turnout for possibly a GOP Presidential nominee Bill Frist in '08 would certainly be attainable.

Yet, if those on the newly embolden Left are serious about beating the Rove Republicans at their own game in the approaching election cycles, they should not shrink from exploiting this pivotal, political 'gift', courtesy of Mother Nature and the incompetence of the Bush administration.

It is possible, to interject race into election battles without succumbing to hysterical Republican talking points charging racism or race baiting. Having abundant evidence at the ready where the GOP has failed minorities or has politically exploited the issue previously, it will come in handy when all they can do is repeat these accusing buzzwords in response, absent a compelling argument as to how they exactly apply in the first place. Exampled by simply utilizing rapper Kayne West's recognized statement of outrage in radio spots on urban stations across the country, the Dems can follow with a substantive case to justify such anger - without resorting to the expected demagoguery.

Speaking as a life-long Chicagoan, the striking similarity between the historic election of Harold Washington as the city's first Black Mayor and the phenomenon that was Barack Obama's candidacy could provide yet another key advantage to the Democrats in 2006. Given, that a racial electoral lock can lead to unfortunate (Marion Barry) and questionable choices (Ray Nagin) by Black voters, I can personally attest that offered experienced, inspiring Black candidates, a proud and energized base will respond in kind. Obama, for example, spent 16 years in the Illinois State legislature honing his reputation as a pragmatic negotiator and mastering the prudent application of public policy. Surely there was no need to labor so intensely to secure elective longevity as his district's State Senator. On the contrary, it must serve as the appropriate preparedness for anyone intent on representing beyond a constituency of shared skin color.

After the election only 11 months ago that further strengthen their control over Congress, it's baffling that the Republican Party is having such difficulty slating potential 2006 Mid-Term candidates. The likes of former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough have taken a pass, obviously none too anxious to defend or explain their party's failed tenure in control of Congress and the White House. So, what the RNC has been left with is the likes of Katherine Harris as an U.S. Senate candidate - but also, Ohio's Secretary Of State Kenneth Blackwell and Maryland's Lt. Governor Michael Steele as the very best the GOP could muster to represent it's commitment to Black Americans. Slating Black candidates of similar credentials as Obama has so far been the norm of DNC recruitment for '06, while Steele has launched his U.S. Senate bid with a 'victimization strategy' over being labeled an 'Uncle Tom', a derogatory insult absolutely, but not a racist epitaph.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Blackwell's central role in the disenfranchisement of thousands of Ohio Black voters last November must be exploited by the DNC far beyond that state's borders. If Tom DeLay's now indicted scheming to deny fair representation to Texas Democrats can be used effectively on a national scale, then the equally convincing evidence against Blackwell and the Ohio GOP must be targeted at the nation's Black electorate.

Finally, anyone who has seen Michael Steele's appearances on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher knows that his meandering bluster is indicative of the classic 'empty suit' politician image he clearly projects. Meaning, he's well suited for the job of Maryland's Lieutenant Governor - a position with no budget oversight or power.

And what's even more significant here, he's currently the highest elected Black Republican in the entire country.

Allowing Rosa Parks' body to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol rotunda will not even begin to repair what little trust George Bush never had with a majority of Black voters in this country. And, it will be the unenviable task of candidates Blackwell and Steele to convince that what happened at the New Orleans' Superdome is not symptomatic of a neglectful Republican Party. Unfortunately, the GOP could not have chosen a worse pair of Black candidates to make that case in next year's Mid-Term elections.

One burning question I would eventually liked answer is the real reason former Black Republican Congressman J.C. Watts Jr. abruptly retired a few years ago. Putting aside the salacious speculation, could it be that he discovered the GOP has a 'glass ceiling' of its own? Or, did he finally realize that his party was truly indifferent to a constituency they had all but written off politically?

Watts is the closest the Republican Party has ever come to replicating a prominent and respected Black elected political figure on the scale of a Sen. Barack Obama. My main point here being that the Democratic Party has many more Barack Obamas' in reserve, currently acquiring valuable experience in state houses and municipalities across this country. And by making that stark comparison, I am convinced that a prideful Black electorate will have further reason to vote Democratic once again.

(This is the first in a series of personal posts on race and the coming election cycles. Part Two will deal with the specific message the Democratic Party must bring to the Black community.)

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at December 27, 2005 11:44 PM