This past weekend Corey Booker, the charismatic Mayor of Newark, went on Meet The Press and commented on the various Obama ads about Bain Capitol and the proposed ads of a pro-Romney Super PAC about Jeremiah Wright. In democratic circles, he was called a traitor at worst, a thoughtless underminer of the president at least. Republicans are gleeful about using an upcoming democratic star to bolster their points. Democratic operatives are currently trying to shut him up. Booker is a very frequent Twitterer, and since the incident on MTP, I've only seen a few inspirational tweets from him in the past couple of days (mind you, I'm a mom and I actually have a life so I may have missed some).
I happen to think he should say what he believes. Maybe he shouldn't have made such comments in the context of his surrogacy of the president's position, but we need to allow people to say what they feel about things going on around us without being called names.
I bring this up, because I have been having some nice running conversations on Twitter with black republicans. "Black republicans?!! You mean there are more than one or two?! Are they crazy like Hermain Cain?!" And don't go blasting me because I said Herman Cain was crazy. There are a lot of crazy CEO's and people in power positions who are smart and charismatic. But yes, there are quite a few black republicans that are regular, thinking, and intelligent people. (That sounded so pompous, but…c'est la vie…) What I get distressed by is the name calling of them as Uncle Toms, or House Negros, or any other of the usual lingo used to call someone a race traitor or one who is not black "enough" and needs to turn in their black card. I may not like the stances that Condelizza Rice took during her time as Secretary of State, but she's not a traitor simply because she believes something different from me.
I think the basic republican ideals of self sufficiency, fiscal conservatism, and a strong national defense have merit to them. I take issue with how some of these ideas are executed and proselityzed, but I believe that good ideas are good ideas and no one person or party has a monopoly on them. The frustration from democratic leaning or apolitical blacks is that the some republican rhetoric treats black people like they're stupid. Blacks are not brainwashed as so famously stated by former presidential candidate, Herman Cain. Black people didn't come by their abortion beliefs because they don't know any better, but through personal and familial experiences. My mom was anti-abortion before she saw the devastation and death caused by women who did do-it-yourself abortions. Many black people are but a step away from poverty or at least working poor. However, we have a strong sense of connection our community. Republicans can't uplift a stay at home mom who has the financial means to remain at home and call her a hero for working for her family, and at the same time, decry the laziness of the "welfare mom" who does the same thing for her household. You cannot have it both ways. You can't say phrases like, "No one was helping me when I was on food stamps!" or "I learned all that I need to know by reading everything I could about the subject. I went to the library everyday after coming home from public school…" and then expect me not to see the good side of government.
If you're going to talk to black folk (and frankly any group) and actually get them to listen, you can't keep throwing stereotypes in their faces and avoiding coming to speak at black churches and community centers. You can't call an entire section of the government socialist while you take advantage of the very programs that you say you don't like. You may not like affirmative action and be dubious of it's efficacy, but don't tell me that it didn't help at all! Don't send me, "we want to open our doors to blacks, hispanics, gays, etc…" and then turn around and say and do everything in your power to offend those groups.
This is why many blacks often feel an allegiance to Democrats. HOWEVER, it is not smart for any voting block to be homogenous. Republican ideas and ideals have merit. They have a better relationship with the business community, and understand some of it's needs and wants. The Booker T Washington type rhetoric of self sufficiency and self empowerment is a necessary message that all can hear. There are times when limited government does make more sense. I don't believe that any black republican is a an Uncle Tom. To state that black republicans are traitors or lackeys to the white power structure insults their intelligence as well. It only serves to divide us and frankly make political pundits stars on the news circuit.
This is the issue. We have quite a bit of common ground, but it makes for a better political story for our differences to be heightened and highlighted. I think if we actually talked and acknowledged that both sides want what's best for the country, both are patriotic, and both are well thought out, we can find the ways needed to fix the issues that face us. Lenny McCallister, the noted republican commentator kindly tweeted to me after one of my blogs, "We're all in this together." That about says it all.