by Raynard Jackson
What do the Republican Party of Virginia RPV) and Blacks have in common? Absolutely nothing!
Having served as the first and only Black to be elected as national committeeman for the Young Republicans Federation of Virginia in the early 1990s, I have spent almost 20 years trying to educate state party leaders about how to get more Blacks involved, but to no avail.
Too often, white Republicans think they know more about the Black community than Blacks. Their approach has always been to tell the Black community what should be important to them, versus asking what is important to us.
In all my years of involvement with the RPV, there has NEVER been a Black in a position of power. When I say power, I mean someone with hiring or budget authority. This is somewhat odd when you consider the fact that former governors Jim Gilmore and George Allen had very good relations within the Black community and both put Blacks in significant position within their administrations.
The problem has always been with the political side of the party—RPV. I was much too young for the civil rights movement, but attending RPV meetings and functions gave me an idea of what it must have been like during that time.
It was a mostly old white male event circa 1950’s. They are so conservative that it was scary. The only Blacks they wanted involved were those who hewed to a very conservative orthodoxy.
In case the RPV didn’t notice, the democrats carried the state and added a new U.S senator during this month’s election. White conservative voters are a shrinking part of the electorate. Republicans can get 100% of the conservative white vote, but it wouldn’t be enough to win state or nation-wide. So, what is the RPV’s plan to build a coalition that will make them competitive? Move further to the right!
So, let me make sure I understand this strategy. The party just lost the state to a democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964, the state has changed from red to blue, they just lost the other U.S. senate seat to a democrat, they lost control of the state senate, and have a 7 seat lead in the house of delegates, and they want to move even further to the right. This illogical thinking is what is driving people like me and others away from this party in droves. What should the party do?
The first thing they should do is to get rid of their racist chairman, Jeff Frederick. Last month he compared Senator Obama to Osama bin Laden, saying, “they both have friends that bombed the Pentagon.” Which of course is not true. Frederick has yet to apologize for his ignorant remarks. But, what is more surprising is that Frederick is only 33 years old, an elected state legislator, and of Latino descent. You would think he would be more sensitive to issues of race and bigotry. Not one person in leadership from RPV called him to task on this insidious comment.
This is why I have ceased any involvement with the RPV. If I want to “pal around” with racist, I should have to go to the KKK meeting, not the RPV meeting.
I know the RPV will trot out a Black or two to attempt to refute my position. But, can the RPV explain the lack of any Blacks in significant positions on their head quarter’s staff? Can they explain the lack of Blacks on the staffs of delegates and senators? Can they explain the lack of Black consultants working on statewide campaigns?
As long as the RPV continues to inject race into their campaigns, require conservative litmus tests for participation, and ignore the changing demographics of the state, they are destined to continue losing seats and elections.
The country and Virginia will continue to get less white. The RPV is not prepared to accept this reality. They continue to use 20th century tactics and views in a 21st century world. Their future is to cling to their past. Within the Black community, the RPV’s actions speak so loud, we can’t hear a damn thing they are saying!
Raynard Jackson is president and CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates LLC., a D.C.-based political consulting/government affairs firm. .He was also the first and only Black to be elected to the position of National Committeeman for the Young Republicans Federation of Virginia. He can be reached at Raynard@raynardjackson.com and Web site at: www.raynardjackson.com or 202-543-7778.