Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Another Year of the Black Republicans

Every couple of years we get a "Will this be the year the GOP makes inroads with blacks?" news cycle.

WASHINGTON - Ken Blackwell is a man on a mission. A hulking former college
football player who currently serves as Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Blackwell is running this year to become Ohio’s first African-American governor. And he faces his first test in achieving this feat when he squares off next week in a competitive GOP primary, which he’s favored to win.

He isn’t the only one on a mission, though. Two years after Illinois Democrat Barack Obama was elected to the Senate (becoming the third African-American since Reconstruction to serve in that chamber), the Republican Party is featuring four top-tier African-American candidates -- Blackwell, Keith Butler in Michigan, Michael Steele in Maryland and Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania. All of them are running for either a Senate seat or governorship in states with sizable black populations.

Yes, a black Republican or two could get elected, even statewide, if s/he is willing to adopt positions harmful to the vast bulk of black Americans. The number of such candidates is typically small, but no one should ever say never.

The more important thing is this: will they do it by convincing significant numbers of blacks to vote against their own interests, a la working class whites voting for the GOP? That would be tragic. If they do it by convincing Republican voters that it's safe to vote for a black, that's one thing. But if they do it by conning a significant number of superficial blacks into voting for whoever has black skin, that would be a sad development. Blackwell, the asshole, and Steele, the shucker-and-jiver, are trying to be of the first type. Swann, with zero political experience whatsoever, is trying to be the second type. I don't have a strong read on Butler, but my sense is that he's simply on a personal crusade, and he has no idea or concern about who actually votes for him.


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