Thursday, February 05, 2009

...Either Stay Loudly or Leave Loudly

Let me start out by saying that probably no one will read this blog post.

Why do I say that? Because it's about telling my fellow moderate Republicans to stop whining about the state of the party, acting like little kids holding their breath until the party bosses listen to them is something that people don't want to hear.

People would much rather me bitch about how radical the party has become. For some reason, blog posts and op-eds with disenchanted Republicans bemoaning the party get a lot of attention. Writings about how those who are fed up with the way things are and want to change it, get little attention. I've written about this before, with very little effect, so I don't expect any change this time. It is much easier to complain about something, than it is to actually do something.

The focus on my blunt talk today is fellow moderate Sophia Nelson who is basically fed up with the way the GOP treats black folk. I'm with ya there. The GOP has not done much to try to court black voters, and worse still, it has forgotten it's long history of working for civil rights. It was only a generation or two that the GOP got the lion's share of the black vote. This is what Nelson observed at last week's meeting of the Republican National Committee:

What I witnessed last week was far worse than election night 1992, when George H. W. Bush lost the election to Bill Clinton. I’ll never forget that night. I was 24, and I remember standing alone, thinking, “Where are the black and brown people?” Standing there, I hoped that someday in the future, due in part to my efforts, the party of Lincoln would once again become a more diverse and open organization.

I was wrong. Steele is the party chairman, but the party he inherits has not made any progress in terms of its black membership; to witness the level of regression is surreal. What struck me is that I did not see any of the black Republicans with whom I came of age with back in the late '80s and '90s. They were not there to celebrate Steele’s historic win.

A small cadre of black Republicans has worked long and hard since before the Nixon era to keep a committed black presence in the GOP. Most of them have apparently faded away, been driven out or have become Democrats. I know of several examples in each category. All of them were loyal and had much to contribute, but they were not given opportunity to advance within the party. In the end, they got tired.

She goes on to say that Michael Steele and the GOP only have a few years to turn it around for her:

It will be interesting to see if Michael Steele can raise money, win elections and otherwise manage the party, given the demographic challenge he faces within the Republican Party. I hope he succeeds because there is far more at stake than just political wins ands losses. What is at stake is the healthy competition, the checks and balances crucial to the survival of our democratic traditions....

If the GOP does not pull it together by 2012, I will no longer call myself a Republican.

This is where the article caught me up short. It sounds like in many ways, Nelson has already given up. She somehow expects a predominantly white party to all of the sudden pay attention to her.

As Shay over at Booker Rising notes:

I don't get the whining. Isn't it the job of black Republicans - especially those like Ms. Nelson who've worked for Republican politicians - to aggressively promote whatever message and work to achieve whatever change they would like to see? I know she is doing the former, but how is she doing the latter? Work to take control of your party, if you have issues. Too many black Republicans just expect stuff to come easy, without clocking in the time.

It seems to me that if she is sad about the current state of the GOP in relation to African Americans, she might want to get active in the party and fight for change instead of complaining.

It wasn't that long ago, that it was the Democrats that were the party that was hostile to blacks. What changed is that people who cared about diversity were willing to work for change. It was people like Fanny Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party who basically raised the roof to get a place at the table. Because of their work, the party became more accepting of African Americans.

But Ms. Nelson doesn't want to do the hard work. She expects that the people in charge will (or won't) make the changes needed. The same people like Chip Saltzman (aka "Magic Negro") or Kayton "I didn't know that golf course didn't accept black people" Dawson. Good luck.

If the GOP's message still means something to her, then she should start getting busy. If it doesn't, then don't wait until 2012 to bounce.

The problem with many moderate Republicans is that we have an odd view of how politics work. We think it is a commodity, something that should be tailored to our wishes. It reminds me of the old Burger King commercials, "Have It Your Way."

But that is not how politics or democracy work. I'm sorry, but the democratic system isn't "American Idol." Politics is a physical sport, it requires hard work by YOU. It means working long hours, to make change. And that change can be slow. It can be frustrating. But the fact is, if one wants something to change, they have to work for it. Changing the GOP is not like ordering a hamburger to your liking.

And that is what I get from Ms. Nelson's article; someone that wants to party to change, but isn't interested in investing the time to make change.

Change can come to the GOP. But you got to do more than whine. Either stay loudly or leave loudly.

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