Republicans and Democrats: Why neither party is deserving of the ‘black vote’

By George Ploss

The actual idea of institutional racism is heavily wrapped around the thought of the Republican Party. Alan Keyes, Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, Ronald Reagan and George Bush I & II are all names that many people would associate with disenfranchisement of African Americans. And so, this has resulted in an understandable prejudice we African Americans have towards the Republican Party. The country split in half during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.

But what if, in place of President Kennedy, there had been a Republican administration that was as progressive as the Democratic Party during that period? Would the vast majority of African Americans have shifted to the Republican right? Would the majority of conservative racists have shifted to the Democratic left?

Before the 1960s our two party system was more eclectic with ideas on both sides of the isle. Now it is anything but.

As we move on and racism becomes more subdued around economic issues, censorship, political correctness, etc., we as black people need to stop disenfranchising ourselves and really think about what “our” politicians have done for us.

In no way am I endorsing the Republican Party. I am an independent because I believe there are just as many racists in the Democratic Party as in the Republican Party. While Republicans rarely campaign in our community on a grassroots level, the Democrats take our votes for granted. So by pledging ourselves to a party that does not represent us, we are and have been disenfranchising ourselves.

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In short, our color and political persuasion should not be synonymous.

It incenses me that because I’m an African American people automatically assume I’m a Democrat. I’m not. I’m not a Republican either. My political beliefs traverse party lines. To be black does not mean to vote Democrat, and to be rich and white does not mean to be Republican.

“As a person first and Republican second, it is contrary to everything I believe to be a racist. To be a Republican is a political choice … it is dangerous to put limitations on people and assume that just because you’re white, you’re a Republican and black, you’re a Democrat” said Katie Malone, chairman of the Champaign Young Republicans and member of the Board of Directors of the Urban League in Champaign County.

The politics of racial identity have limited our progression. Think about how many conservative black people you know that still vote Democrat. Christianity, beliefs against abortion and fiscal conservatism are more than prevalent in the black community and are considered values of the Republican base. That blacks vote Democratic, despite these similarities with the Republican party is the remnants of the un-reconciled racial history of this country. The Republican and Democratic party are just that, un-reconciled. Democrats should not have the “black vote” in bag; they should earn it, as should the Republicans.

We as a people can have true political power, but instead we continue to be used as mere examples in the public eye for themes of diversity.

We cannot let another Democrat speak in our churches unless he/she has done something – not just said something – positive for our community. It is a united Congress and Democratic legislation is extremely difficult to pass, however that is not an excuse.

The last progressive administration that African Americans really had was the Carter administration. We cannot support President Clinton or who he campaigns for simply because he established an office in Harlem. Look at his record with scrutiny and critique as well as other politicians who claim that they are for “us” and ask yourself if are they really doing a better job than their counterparts across the aisle. If the better portion of black people begin to vote Republican, there would be a shift on Capitol Hill, and we would start to see Democrats and Republicans fighting over our votes.

But before that happens, we need to get out, do our homework and vote based on individual candidates – not ambiguous parties. Freedom through choice. One Love.