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Black Republican Advances

Askia Muhammad | 3/6/2013, 2:30 p.m.

I'd like to convey my sincerest congratulations to Armstrong Williams, a dear friend of mine. The conservative commentator announced plans recently to acquire two television stations: WEYI-TV, an NBC affiliate in the Flint-Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, Mich., market, ranked No. 67 nationally, and WWMB-TV, a CW affiliate in the 103rd-largest market in Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C., near his hometown of Marion, S.C.

Armstrong's big success comes at an ideal moment for the image of Black Republicans. He attended a gala at the GOP watering hole, the Capitol Hill Club March 1, where Black party pioneers William Coleman, former Transportation Secretary under President Gerald Ford, and Bob Brown, a White House aide who served President Richard Nixon were honored as party "Trailblazers" by GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

"Everybody who is anybody Black in the Republican Party was there," I was told by someone who attended.

That all the prominent Black Republican operatives in the 21st century could meet in a modest-sized dining room is evidence of the really bad shape the GOP finds itself in regarding non-White voters. About 93 percent of Black voters cast ballots for President Barack Obama to be re-elected. No surprise there. But in addition, 73 percent of Latino voters, and 70 percent of Asian and Native American voters did the same. That spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e for the American White Party, especially at a time when White fertility rates are down and when Whites are expected to become a population "minority" during the next 40 years.

The fact that all Black Republicans think that they have worth that they can boast about only amounts to a few financially successful Black "fat cats" and shows how out of touch they are with what's really important to ordinary people, regardless of racial or ethnic identity in this society.

It's that myth of the "self -made millionaire," the instant millionaire, the first-round draft pick, the American Idol, lighting cigars with $100 bills which has destroyed the work ethic in this country, not the so-called "welfare state" and its "entitlements."

"I got mine. You've got yours to get," is what they say as they boast and primp around flaunting their symbols of success.

This Horatio Alger-mentality gone mad is so pervasive that it has fostered entire industries that prey on ordinary folks who can't wait for their income tax returns and will borrow money from the tax preparer who promises to get them their money over night.

It has spawned companies that will buy someone's structured annuity - such as a lottery payout - so that individuals can get all the money at once, rather than in monthly or yearly installments. This is like the Republican lure to Black people to be around a bunch of wealthy folks who look like them as though their success will rub off, so long as they denounce public policies that are really in their best interest.

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) says the Republican Party is "in denial" about its image problems with minority voters - and he argues the "burden of proof" is on the GOP to show it is sincere about repairing relationships with communities tilting toward Democrats. "We are in denial - because the fact is that many people associate the Republican Party as the party of the rich," Watts told The Hill. Watts left Congress in 2003 where he served as Republican caucus chairman, the fourth highest position in the party. He recently launched INSIGHT America, a nonprofit group designed to boost diversity within the GOP.

But Watts had a different, open-door philosophy, for the good of Black people, not just the elites, when he was in office. "The burden of proof is on us and it starts with relationships. We lost eight out of 10 demographics in the last election, so we have to be getting back to basics," he added.

The basics, in my opinion, are improving the conditions, the culture, and the lives of people across the board in this country, not just attracting a few wannabe rich folks.

But the GOP efforts at minority outreach are concentrated on touting a few prominent success stories while never saying anything to the folks stuck at the bottom of this society.

Case in point, the speaker at the GOP Black Trailblazers event was none other than David Steward, founder of World Wide Technology - a billion-dollar St. Louis firm. Steward's story which details the up-by-his-own-bootstraps personal saga, reads a lot like the narrative of Williams. The problem, in my view, is that Republicans simply want Black votes to help them win elections. They really don't care about transforming the lives of those they would entice into their web.