House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has officially unveiled his four-part Republican Commitment to America, in which he tells voters why they should vote to the Republicans, not only versus Democrats, in the upcoming midterm elections. The plan includes a commitment to a strong economy, security, a safe border, government accountability and “better care and improved health outcomes for all Americans.”
These themes will resonate with many Americans. Who doesn’t want security and a strong economy? But is there enough here to get black voters to switch parties?
Black Americans certainly have enough reasons to desert the Democrats. Like other voters, we are deeply concerned about rising crime, rising prices and our essentially open border, and it’s clear who is responsible for these things.
By now, the Republican Party seems to have grasped the reality that black Americans are voters too, and that they must treat us as a respectable constituency in order to make us more than non-Democrats and ardent Republicans.
It was President Trump who got the ball rolling by passing the First Step Act, which freed 5,000 black men from prison, invested unprecedented millions in historically black colleges and universities, and launched the Platinum Plan, which boosted investment in black neighborhoods and company suggested. As a result, President Trump secured 18 percent of the black male vote, a historic number for a Republican.
Since then, there has been growing rumbling in the GOP about how to win a larger percentage of black votes. But is McCarthy’s Commitment to America a sufficient argument to do so?
Not quite. The plan does not speak directly enough to the constituents whose economic outcomes and political power have been eroded by Democratic leadership, namely descendants of US slaves. And this is the main reason the Republican commitment to America is failing our community: it does not define how our unique political priorities are addressed.
This is where the GOP needs to take a backbone and identify the specific ways in which it will help the black community. While Democrat identity politics has used “intersectionality” to mongrel black America’s centuries-old legacy, the answer is not to ignore the specific needs of our community. The answer is to get it right and be precise.
For example, when Republicans cite responsibility for how “banks denied credit to conservatives,” how can they ignore the fact that banks have been repeatedly convicted of large-scale discrimination against black Americans, or the fact that local farm managers work for the federal government were black farmers denied their constitutional liberties and access to capital?
It is especially important for Republicans to address these failures, since it was modern conservatives and Republicans who caused the settlements to fail for the decades, if not generations, of discrimination lawsuits faced by farming families descended from US slaves .
Failing to be accountable and make amends for well-documented harm is not the way to become “all Americans’ party.” And no American should ask elected leaders to neglect one of America’s oldest and most famous civic groups. In the GOP’s formal treaty with America, Republicans would do best to allay fears of naming specific American constituency needs in an “All Americans First” agenda.
Besides specificity, recruiting black Americans to the right requires a patriotism that is explicitly pro-black. If McCarthy aims to bring about a GOP majority, our Republican Party had better be prepared to give uncompromising priority to black-and-white, multigenerational Americans for the next eight years and beyond.
And McCarthy must issue a call to action to other Republican lawmakers to bring their own legislative record into line with the promises on paper. I would prefer that Republican politicians not tell us what we want to hear and instead inspire confidence that the GOP leadership will deliver on their pre-election promises on day one.
For example, although Republicans are currently in the minority, the GOP has squandered valuable political power by failing to propose more robust immigration policies. If they are in power, they must immediately implement the decades-old call to make e-verify mandatory for all businesses.
In the meantime, I hope McCarthy’s official field guide, designed to serve every child, every neighborhood, and every American, includes a mandate that House Republicans will grapple with, listen to, and activate to serve the needs of posterity of US slaves to serve in their districts.
As a minority leader who advocates for his party, McCarthy must set an example for recruiting descendants of US slaves back into the Republican Party. The clock is ticking.
Pamela Denise Long is CEO of Youthcentrix® Therapy Services, a company focused on helping organizations implement trauma-informed practices and diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism (DEIA) at the systems level. Contact Ms. Long online at www.youthcentrix.com or @PDeniseLong on social media.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
https://www.newsweek.com/can-republican-commitment-america-deliver-black-voters-opinion-1742647 Can Republican Commitment to America Deliver for Black Voters?