By Brad Franklin
Jackson Advocate Managing Editor
There are Black Republicans worth respecting. Larry Elder isn’t one of them. Neither is Herschel Walker. And it most certainly isn’t Vernon Jones. But how did we go from Colin Powell and Michael Steele to this? We know the history of the Republican Party. It was the default choice of Black folks for decades. But suddenly, during the Civil Rights Era, the “Grand Ole Party” became the party of the Klan. Black folks defected en masse to the Democratic Party, leaving the more conservative Black folks without a political home. The question is, will this current Republican “House of Cards” ever be a “home” to Black folks who lean more right of center?
California voters just resoundly defeated Elder in an election to recall Governor Gavin Newsome. A 300 million dollar waste that happened basically because conservatives in the state were unhappy with how Newsome handled the pandemic, among other things. In California, a state where ballot initiatives thrive, many governors have faced recall drives under a century-old reform that created a mechanism for voters to remove them mid-term. It’s how Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor in 2003. Incidentally, he’s the last Republican to win statewide office.
In such a racially diverse state you’d think voters wouldn’t have a problem electing California’s first Black governor into office right? But no one wants to be led by a guy who thinks George Zimmerman is a hero, the minimum wage should be lowered, and that slaveowners deserved reparations. Elder is the guy who recently said:
“When people talk about reparations, do they really want to have that conversation? Like it or not, slavery was legal.” “Their legal property was taken away from them after the Civil War, so you could make an argument.”
Amazing that he lost, isn’t it? (Sarcasm off.)
The saddest part in all this is Elder claimed voter fraud in the recall before the polls were even set up.
In the midst of this, former pro running back Herschel Walker announced his bid for a Georgia Senate seat. Outside of him being a long shot to unseat Raphael Warnock, Walker appears to be nothing more than a shill. A plant in an obvious effort by white Republicans in Georgia to pit two Black men against each other and hope the chips fall in their favor. He was handpicked by Trump (red flag). He’s a former employee of Trump, having played for his team in the United States Football League (red flag). And dubious enough from his ignorant tweets, he feels Black folks aren’t oppressed in the U.S. (red flag). Walker proves that most in his party think that simply having a Black face on the ballot could draw Black folks into the Republican Party.
Not to be outdone, former Georgia Representative Vernon Jones has garnered a track record that surely has John Lewis turning over in his grave. Jones has notoriously put Barack Obama’s face on his campaign literature and then voted for George Bush…twice. He endorsed a Donald Trump re-election bid and promoted the lie that the election was “stolen” from him. And to top that off, he used a speech at the stupidly titled “Save America” Rally to announce his defection to the Republican Party. Hours later, Trump fanatics would storm the U.S. Capitol. If my options are a Democratic Party that still takes Black votes for granted and a party that parades out Black men like these three…I’m choosing the former.
More and more you’re seeing Black conservatives go off the deep end to get attention. Leaning more towards Trump-esque talking points and sensationalism than common sense. Millennials call it “wildin’ for respect”. And it stifles any chance Black conservatives may have of swaying votes. It’s the old adage of finding Black men who can make white men feel comfortable being racist. As Juanita Tolliver wrote in a recent Slate op-ed:
“They will be the example that Trump voters can name drop when they’re called out for demonizing Black Lives Matter. They will provide them with all of their rebuttals in arguments about systemic racism and racial profiling. Their assertions that Black people would survive encounters with police if they complied, and that sexism is an exaggerated problem for women, will give them cover for their own similar opinions.”
As we prepare to wrap 2021, you would think the Republican Party would shy away from 45’s outrageous claims and theatrics. Even as the Democratic Party fails to present any formative agenda for us, you can’t possibly think that continually parading out these Black faces of white supremacy is going to do the trick. Fiscal responsibility and smaller government are bullet points you can possibly sell. It’s the “America isn’t racist”, “Back The Blue”, “Repeal the Voting Rights Act” stuff that won’t connect. If that’s what being Republican or conservative is about, I’ll pass.