Saturday, October 18, 2008

IPOPA Demolishes the GOP on Race

Republicans and ultra-conservative commentators, particularly Limbaugh and Hannity, loooove attacking Democrats for hypocrisy on racism. They gleefully highlight that more Democrats won't vote for Obama because he's black than independents. Their mantra is "Democratic Party, take the log out of your own eye first."

Given the racial polarization in the Democratic primaries, it's a fair question. How CAN the Democratic Party lecture Republicans about not being a party of equal opportunity?

Pay close attention because the answer is crucial: the leadership.

Anyone can self-identify as a Democrat by voting in a Democrat primary. As a result, most so-called "members" of the Democratic Party never work for the party or donate to it. They can't be fired, their checks can't be returned, and nobody can stop them from saying, "YEEEHAWWW, Cletus, I'm a Democrat, and I ain't votin' for no black man!"

This is why, when you size up the soul of a party, you have to look at the leaders and those who vote for the leaders. The Democratic Party make a concerted effort to put people of other races into leadership roles, and they groom them to assume those larger roles later.

Here are the facts. In the U.S. Congress, there are 41 African-Americans and eight Asian-Americans. None are Republicans. There are twenty-nine Hispanic-Americans. Only five are Republican.

In fairness, the first African-American elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, Edward Brooke (1967-1979), was a Republican. But the state that elected him was, ironically, the one Republicans hate the most: Massachusetts. (You know what you call a Massachusetts Republican in the 49 other states? “Fellow Democrat”).

The Republican Party also had J.C. Watts, the four-term, African-American Oklahoma Congressman who left Congress to chair GOPAC, an organization created to “build a farm team of Republican officeholders who could run for congress or higher state offices.” What a great place to bring up some African-American talent with a supportive organization, right?

In 2007, Watts resigned from GOPAC, and here's what he said to the 2008 GOP presidential candidates:

“Republicans want to say we reach out. But what we do instead is 60 days before an election, we’ll spend some money on black radio and TV or buy an ad in Ebony and Jet and that’s our outreach. People read through that.”
In our country's history, we've elected three black Governors -- Douglas Wilder, Deval Patrick, and David Patterson, and one Latino governor, Bill Richardson. All are Democrats.

But wait? A Republican president put Clarence Thomas on the United States Supreme Court. This is true. But he did so to fill a spot vacated by a sitting African-American, Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed by a Democrat, Lyndon Johnson. Be honest with yourself on this question. If another African-American had already filled Marshall's seat, would Thomas be on the court right now? You already know. So the GOP has not expanded African-American presence. Since Thomas filled "the African-American seat," it's been back to the white men brigade for the GOP.

Indiana's GOP does as poorly, and with less justification for that dismal result. In Indiana history, we’ve only had three African-Americans serve in statewide offices: Pam Carter (Attorney General), Dwayne Brown (Clerk of the Courts), and David Lewis (Clerk of the Courts, appointed). All Democrats.

When we call Indiana a "red" state, we mean that its core leans Republican, which, in turn, means it should dominate (and historically has dominated) down-ballot races, such as treasurer, auditor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, attorney general, and previously, the clerk of the courts. At any time in its history, the Indiana GOP probably could have gotten an African-American elected to any of these offices had it made one the party's nominee. It never has.

You may say, "Come on, IPOPA. People can't just jump into these statewide roles. They have to prove themselves locally first." An excellent point...that further crushes the GOP's claim to care about African-Americans. In the Indiana General Assembly, there are eight African-American representatives and four African-American senators. All are Democrats.

What about cracking the ceiling on new offices? Indiana has elected only two African-American sheriffs, Oatess Archey and Frank Anderson. Both are Democrats. (In fairness, anyone who has read Archey's incredible biography, Going Over All the Hurdles, knows he's apolitical and just ran as a Democrat because that's where the ballot opportunity existed).

What about Indiana Courts? We have one African-American Justice on the Indiana Supreme Court -- Robert Rucker. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Evan Bayh and elevated to the high court by Frank Obannon. From 1964 to 1988, Republican governors could have put a black man or woman on the Court of Appeals. They did not. It took a Democrat to make that happen. There is currently one African-American judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals, Carr Darden. He was appointed to the Court in 1994 by Evan Bayh.

Some will say it is unfair to use judges in this analysis because there is a Judicial Nominating Committee that submits names to the governor. Yes, but the final call IS a governor's call, and if (s)he is so inclined, (s)he can say, “I’ll take the political hit from some Hoosier Bubbas to appoint an African-American.” In truth, this is where a party REALLY shows its stripes. Mitch Daniels has appointed three judges to the Indiana Court of Appeals. They are all white.

Republicans always throw out Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice, which is like white people talking about Rocky Marciano or Larry Bird anytime you mention the greats of boxing and basketball respectively. Even though I assure you that both Powell and Rice's memoirs will ultimately reveal how they were thrown under the bus for the benefit of a white VP and defense secretary, I'll let the GOP keep these two because the sum total of the evidence against them is still overwhelming.

While I encourage everyone to add to this list, my search for African-American Republicans holding even small county-wide offices has yielded three in the entire state of Indiana: Marion County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Ayres (whom Governor Daniels has repeatedly passed over for nomination to the Court of Appeals), Marion County Superior Court Judge Reuben Hill, and Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill.

As judges seldom jump to other elected offices, Curtis Hill IS the entire GOP African-American bench. If I were Murray Clark, I would have already dispatched a 24-hour scandal/PR snafu prevention squad to watch over Hill. However, it might already be too late.

Prosecutor Hill already took a hit earlier this year for being a hothead when he bashed the Republican Mayor of Elkhart for taking officers away from a county drug interdiction unit to combat Elkhart’s rise in violent crime.

Hill's comment? "When it comes to fighting crime, Mayor Moore doesn't know his asphalt from a hole in the ground," Hill said. That's pretty funny and clever. BUT....the Elkhart Truth writes:

Hilarious. Devastating. A great sound bite. Just one small problem -- Moore's four years as president of the Elkhart Board of Public Safety. The prosecutor may consider him naive, but Moore knows a thing or two about the Elkhart police and crime-fighting.

Hill, for his part, let anger overwhelm his judgment. He publicly belittled the mayor of the county's largest city, damaging the relationship between the prosecutor's office and Elkhart.



Wilson46201 said...

Two recent major public events proved to me the profound racism of the Indiana Republican Party.

1. I watched the Palin Rally on streaming video - the TV cameras scanned the crowd: there was nary a single Bleck in that crowd. It was lily white. Not an African-American in sight. Disgusting!

2. This morning I was caught downtown trying to transfer busses by the Cancer Walk. Thousands of Hoosiers walking for a good cause surrounded me: it was a thoroughly diverse crowd. Black and white together. Just like Indianapolis.

The horribly stark contrast showed that there's something within the GOP that actively excludes African-Americans. There might as well have been giant signs in Noblesville saying "NO COLOREDS ALLOWED!"

Sean Shepard said...

Wilson. All those observations prove is that there aren't enough dark complected Americans interested in the Republican party but that, regardless of social or political bias, everyone is interested in seeing cancer vanquished.

Anonymous said...

wilson46201 - I was at the event, and there were African-Americans there. I don't know how many, but 'nary a single' is just not true.
ipopa - take a percentage of cabinet level appointments in the Clinton vs. Bush administrations, and you will see that the Republican president's percentage is higher. Finally, Democrat policies that are supposed to 'take care' of minority groups do nothing but keep them exactly where they are instead of raising standards of living. In the end, government cannot make people raise themselves up. Family, friends, faith, and community are the source for inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Sean...the word complected does not exist...perhaps you meant complexioned!!!

Wilson46201 said...

"complected" -- it's a Hoosier thing: you wouldn't understand!

Sean Shepard said...

Actually, according to it does exist as an informal adjective, sometimes criticized for being dialectic.

In thinking about the subject of the original post though. We have a serious problem in that many people feel they can't have a conversation about race and culture without every word they say being reviewed for any opportunity for someone else to scream racist at them.

Anyone able to speak to why MLK was a Republican?

iPOPA said...

Anon 1:24:

Regarding your cabinet comparison...

First, giving all benefit of the doubt to President Bush, if he has a legitimate personal commitment to diversity, he has not done much to make it permeate his party.

Second, the cynic in my directs you to today's Chicago Tribune,,0,3071098.story.

This story shows that Bush did not do as well as Clinton in appointments UNDERNEATH the cabinet level appointments which require Senate confirmation.

This, in turn, leads me to two other arguably cynical but also defensible contentions.

The first is that Bush's commitment to diversity might be driven by the desire for public credit, which one gets mostly from visible (i.e., cabinet level) appointments. When Bush had opportunities to appoint minorities to positions that don't allow him to put them in front of cameras and talk about how diverse he is, he didn't do so as much.

One would think a genuine commitment to diversity would "trickle down."

This leads to my second "cynical thought." Bill Clinton set the bar for minority appointments by completely dwarfing all of his predecessors. That sets a psychological "bar" that any future president would likely want to meet just to equal public expectations. By doing what he did, Clinton put Bush in the position of at LEAST equaling him in cabinet appointments.

Likewise, I also wonder if the Democrats in the U.S. Senate influenced Bush's appointments. I promise you that had Bush tried to confirm an all-white cabinet, all of his later appointments would have been unconfirmed. In the area that Democrats have no influence on (no confirmation appointments) Bush does less well as Clinton. Correlation? Causation? Without getting into George Bush's head and heart, we'll never know.

Just food for thought.

Sean Shepard said...

Again, looking at the distribution. Relative to the percentages represented by party membership, how did bush do?

Ie: If 10% of the Democrat party are "darker complexioned" and 2% of the Republican party but the appointments, placements and hirings were 10% / 3% than Bush would have had to dig deeper in the party and work harder to make that happen.

I don't know the stats though. Didn't the Republicans try to add a black Senator here in Indy back in 2004? And I know for a fact there was a concerted, organized party effort to get a black candidate for Congress in 2006 (they ended up with two, one slated the other won the primary).

Wilson46201 said...

Answer to Sean Shepaerd: Dr.MLK was a Republican coz Lincoln freed the slaves. Until FDR, African-Americans generally were Republican when they could vote. It was the success of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s supported by the Democrats that finally flipped Blacks into voting almost solidly for Democrats ever since. All the African-Americans in Congress and the Indiana Legislature are Democrats nowadays. ALL.

About Black Republicans running for Congress locally: frankly, if the seat were winnable, the GOP would likely run a white candidate. Marvin Scott, Eric Dickerson, Ron Franklin didnt stand a chance against Julia -- that's why they were allowed to run as sacrificial lambs. Black Republicans are permitted to run for offices in which they'll likely lose. With UniGov, the local GOP controlled all County elective offices for 30 years but never once ran a Black for Recorder, Auditor, etc. It took Democrats for the first time ever to elect African-Americans to Marion County Sheriff, Auditor, Treasurer, etc.

Sean Shepard said...

Well, obviously I can't speak for the local Republican party leadership since I'm not part of their club but, it does occur to me Wilson that a much higher percentage of Republicans in the Democrat controlled Congress during the 60s voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats.

It was always my understanding that the Democrats got credit for it just because LBJ was in office and signed it when it came to his desk?

I disagree with your sacrificial lamb thought regarding the black candidates the Republicans have put up I always perceived that to be an attempt to draw black voters in, not sacrifice somebody.

After Brose couldn't do it with $1.2 million and Eric Dickerson being black didn't make more than a few points difference they probably have given up at this point.

What about guys like Ike Randolph, or deputy mayors Williams or Wilson?

I don't mean to come across like a Republican apologist but I just never have seen the intentional racial bias that gets levied against them.

I did observe Aaron Haith absolutely, in my opinion, railing against a Hispanic woman at a Concerned Clergy meeting one morning though.

By the way. I think Julia would have voted AGAINST the bail out. I was disappointed in Andre when he voted for the 2nd version.

Wilson46201 said...

In 2000, the GOP ran Marvin Scott, a Black Republican, against Julia but to no avail. With a "new" district in 2002, the GOP ran a very "big bucks" campaign against Julia with Brose McVey. It didnt work.

Dickerson was poorly organized: he thought he could knock out Julia with only $200K but he could only raise $57K. McVey raised $1.2M and got the same results.

By the way, the "Blackest" city council district is represented by Jackie Nytes, a very white woman.

True Conservative said...

wilson46201 if you do not see blacks in a crowd that means the republicans are racists. Did they exclude black people, if your observation is correc? That would be racism. IPOPA to be objective you might want to mention that democrats have controlled the Governor's office for 16 of the last 19 years and what percentage of the dem's appointments were black, hispanic, asian, women? When are we going to quit counting people by race, religion, sex etc. If you truly believe the people who put the people in charge in the Democrat party are above prejudice you are kidding yourself. The big wigs in the democrat party didn't support Obama until the handwriting was on the wall. I remember couragous John Edwards only coming out after Obama had it locked just like Gore, and the others. In fact I don't think Biden did if ever until he was named VP nominee. The rank and file who the elite democrats make fun of are the bankbone of your party.

Anonymous said... the dictonary frequently lists words that are dialect or used by those with little or no education...please the word is complexioned.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Judge Hill a Democrat until he got mad because the Dems wouldn't slate him? Then, the Republicans, needing a token on the ballot, found room for him.

And we wonder why most of the judges in this county aren't worth a damn.

iPOPA said...


Thanks as always for your post.

I don't see the following statements as being at all contradictory:

Regarding your "past 16 years of Democratic rule" argument, I have the following two thoughts that I don't believe are mutually exclusive:

(1) The Democratic Party has done a so-so job appointing minorities to leadership roles in the executive and judicial branches and grooming them as candidates.

(2) The Democratic Party has done a much better job than the Republican Party in appointing minorities to leadership roles in the executive and judicial branches and grooming them as candidates.

I agree that there's a seemingly counterproductive aspect of "counting" minority appointments because it actually focuses on race, but it was only WHEN we started paying attention to "the count" that the demographics of presidential cabinets changed.

Also, I'm realistic that not everybody in my party is above prejudice. I know they aren't. But you can't argue with the overall results, and Democrats do better.

Also, Sean, I appreciate your statistical argument (that as a percentage of overall black members, the GOP does as well as
Dems), BUT that rewards the GOP for "exclusive" behavior. By your method, the FEWER black Republicans the GOP recruits, the less the GOP has to give them to be proportionately successful.

Finally, yes, the GOP has put up Marvin Scott (a black man) and Eric Dickerson (a black man) for Congress. But where did they do it? In a race WITH a sitting black candidate. When the GOP runs a black candidate in any of their GOP strongholds, then you'll know they're serious about inclusion.

Anonymous said...

Not to split hairs but I don't believe Patterson was elected Governor of NY.

Wilson46201 said...

The GOP has no Black members in Congress (House or Senate) and no statewide elected officials in major offices anywhere in the USA (such as Lieutenant Governor like Patterson was).