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JACKSON: Republicans Should Learn from Cantor's Mistake

Raynard Jackson | 6/18/2014, 3 p.m.
Raynard Jackson

Last week’s defeat of House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent shock waves throughout D.C. like I have never seen before.  But, in Cantor’s defeat, I see great opportunity for the Republican Party to make inroads into the Black community.

Cantor represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, which is a suburb of Richmond.  According to the 2010 U.S. Census, it has a population of 757,917 (74.3 percent White, 17.1 percent Black), median income of $ 64,751.  In other words, it is the definition of a middle-class district.  The district is rated as a solid Republican (R+10).

Before we can understand how Republicans can learn from this, we must understand why Cantor lost. It was a total repudiation of the lack of leadership and vision within the Republican congressional leadership.

How could Cantor justify supporting amnesty for illegals when there are 50 million Americans out of work? How could he justify giving in-state tuition to illegals when American-born Americans can barely afford college? How could Cantor justify illegal children getting accommodations at a 5-star military base when American children are being moved from homeless shelter to homeless shelter?

Cantor’s constituents (Black and White) were asking him some very simple questions:  Who is looking out for me and my interests? 

With 17.1 percent of Cantor’s constituents being Black, he should have known that he was on the wrong side of the amnesty issue.  Blacks are the single largest demographic group that opposes amnesty, despite support from such Black groups as the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Congressional Black Caucus. 

If Cantor had some credible Blacks around him, he would have known that Blacks are thoroughly disillusioned with Obama and his policies and they are willing to look at supporting a “viable” Republican alternative.

Republicans fail to see that immigration is a cross-over issue that unites both Blacks and Whites.

Paul E. Peterson, professor of government at Harvard University, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Gains under the Obama administration by all students range between minimal and nonexistent, and the black-white gap on test scores threatens to widen after having narrowed steadily over the previous nine years [the Bush years].”

Obama has done everything in his power to sabotage Blacks having access to better educational opportunities. Just last year Obama’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block Louisiana’s tuition voucher program, which has produced significant improvement for Blacks and Hispanics. The Washington Post’s editorial board blasted Obama stating that he wanted, “to trap poor black children in ineffective schools.”

Mixed messages coming from our congressional leadership is fueling the anger that was on display in the Cantor race: We Republicans claim to support the middle class, fight for Americans, support our troops, and represent “real America.”

Last time I checked, America is a very diverse nation, but it is not reflected within our congressional leadership, their staffs, or their advisers.

Cantor surrounded himself with his usual White consultants who had no one around them with a different perspective on any of the issues.  This campaign was exhibit A in why diversity is necessary within our party.