the outside observer, the Republican Party may seem to have no coherent
plan for Black America. Actually, the GOP has two game plans. One
is a farcical show of "inclusion" through appointments
and hiring, a petty cash and publicity diversion designed to have
no significant effect on GOP policy or its strategic position as
the White Man's Party. Armstrong Williams is Clown-in-Chief in this
ring of the circus, but it's really just a sideshow.
other game is pure subversion, far more sophisticated and deadly.
The goal is to sow confusion and chaos among Black Democrats, the
party's only dependable mass base. This ring of the circus is where
the real action - and money - is, the GOP's strategic Black game
Republican leader Tom DeLay spent much of last week going through
the motions of paying attention to Black columnist-consultant Armstrong
Williams, the central player in what the Washington
Post editorially derided as a Republican "affirmative action
plan" for Black conservatives. Williams, for whom Hard Right
Republicanism is the Living Word, pretended to slap his clients
into racial sensitivity, demanding that they renounce lily-whiteness
and buy into his bag of Black resumes. (The Post editorial, with
wicked sarcasm, had Williams describing a roomful of whites turning
"ashen and silent" under his tirade.)
pills for what ails the GOP were no problem at all for Tom DeLay
to swallow. In fact, the archconservative seemed quite pleased with
himself when he told an AP reporter, "One of our problems was,
in the hiring of African-Americans, we can't find good conservative
African-Americans to work for us." (It's so hard to get good
help these days.) But a package from Armstrong Williams had arrived,
and "I've got 20 resumes now of young conservatives."
Williams' contrived rebellion consists of holding white Republicans'
hands, while they perform painless exercises. "It's our responsibility
to help them," said Strom Thurmond's Black protégé.
the 20,000 staffers on Capitol Hill, about 8 percent are African
American, according to Black Republican Ohio Secretary of State
Kenneth Blackwell. About one percent are Black Republicans.
the West Coast, the same marginal drama occupies media attention.
Shannon Reeves, top Black in the California Republican Party and
renegade Oakland NAACP chief, is locked in epic combat with state
party Vice Chairman Bill Back, a fan of the Confederacy. Back endorsed
and distributed a tract that lamented the plight of emancipated
slaves because "most of the poor devils had no experience fending
that out, cried Reeves! He quickly fired off an open letter to the
Angeles Times, denouncing Back's "bigoted propaganda."
GOP strategist Kevin Spillane chimed in: "What this whole episode
demonstrates is that there continues to be a tremendous degree of
insensitivity among Republican leaders about how to handle race
is the point, here? That moss-backed bigots should learn to bite
their tongues? That the Republican Party's legislative agenda will
be affected by the addition of a few more Black staffers - or 100
Senator Rick Santorum also complained about his party's racial inertia.
"It took us the last two years to convince our members that
actually having a [Black-oriented] communications plan and a message
and a strategy by which to implement
that is a good thing," he told the congressional newspaper
Hill. However, Santorum's eyes are focused on the legislation
agenda, which is where the rest of us ought to be looking.
the Black church
core of the GOP plan to wreak havoc in the Black body politic is
faith-based funding of Black
churches. That's the real show in this circus, and the clowns
in that ring wear clerical collars.
would argue that roughly a third of the African American community
are culturally and fiscally fairly conservative," Santorum
said. "That's a block that we should get if we do a good job
communicating what we're all about and why it makes sense for them
to vote for us."
actual Republican National Committee goal is to garner 15 to 20
percent of the Black vote in 2004, enough to dash Democratic hopes
of resurgence and convince white Republicans that they are members
of an integrated party.
Black congregations have not been significantly swayed in the past
by Republican cultural and fiscal messages. This time, the plan
is to bribe the preachers. George Bush has instructed five of his
cabinet departments to make hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts
available to the Black clergy. (See "De-funding
the Right Rev. Dr. Greedygut," January 2.) His $600 million
State of the Union pitch for faith-based drug "rehabilitation"
programs was developed for Black churches by the Milwaukee-based
Bradley Foundation, the GOP's Hard Right brain. Under other Republican
legislation, church buildings could be partially financed with federal
money. Black churches are also prime targets for the $756 million
that Bush wants this Congress to spend on private school vouchers.
of what goes on in Black Republican circles is of no lasting impact:
Armstrong Williams' hollow bombast, Condoleezza Rice's ceremonial
presence, Shannon Reeve's bickering with racists.
faith-based funding and school vouchers, if passed, have the potential
to thoroughly corrupt Black American politics for many years to
come. "All of those will be issues that will be coming out
of the box within the month," said Senator Santorum.
will soon see what the Congressional Black Caucus - and the Black
church - are made of.
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