Last night on Bearing Drift, my friend J.R. asked this question about my post here on Susan Stimpson:
Is getting irate at a conservative who clearly made a gaffe and then further fanning the flames of the story with a public ultimatum going to promote racial equality or continue to divide us?
Unfortunately, it not only promotes equality, but makes us stronger as a party…and I’ll explain how.
For too long, when remarks like these are made-context or no-we as black conservatives are left holding the bag; left to give the explanation to our community of what was actually said and meant. That explanation is often difficult to make, if it’s possible at all. Of all the ethnic conservatives out there, I’d wager that black conservatives are the only ones required to defend our conservatism not just to those within our party, but to our community as well.
When we show up to talk about the virtues of our candidates, no one wants to talk about that candidate. They want to know why we would support a candidate who doesn’t want to make our people’s lives better; who doesn’t want to inspire our community. Those are sound bites out of context, to be sure…but that’s what we’re left to defend.
And I think I speak for most of us black conservatives, if not all, when I say that we’re tired of it. Above that, we’re tired of being tired of it.
So, here we are…at a point where a need arises to publicly call out statements like this, to see if what was said was meant, and if so, how we’re supposed to clean it up; to ask that question directly to those who make them, and not to their supporters. Done with no malice intended, but the hope that-as J.R. also said-conservatives/Republicans get to the point where we’re not afraid to have these discussions, as we’ve been historically.
Black conservatives owe both our party and our community that. It’s incumbent on us to be the guardians of a community that is too often neglected by our party, and the guardians of a party that is not prepared for the scrutiny they will face in that community. It’s unfortunate that we have to play those roles, but it is necessary.
Having listened to the entire interview, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
- I don’t think that was a “gotcha” question…in fact, it’s a hard one that all of our candidates-and Republican leadership-need to answer, and definitively. Susan tried…
- …but she gave the same answer everyone else has; there’s nothing different there. That’s just my opinion.
That said, I take no offense to her entire answer, because she’s not completely wrong. I wish that we were always able to view all Americans as just that-Americans. Unfortunately, the realities of campaigning requires us to not only reach out, but include black Americans, as well as other ethnic groups, in our strategy and policy discussions. That outreach and inclusion requires inspiration from the candidate; a willingness to make people want to support you. So to say “that’s not a constituency I’d try to inspire,” is a horrible way of putting it, but the context provides the explanation.
This is really no different than Rick Santorum’s “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better” statement, which elicited a similar response from me. Inartful as hell, but with the whole explanation, it makes sense. So, as of this point, I’m not going to continue to hold it against her. But, please, please…work on your answer.
With that, for me, the issue is closed. I was told I might get an email from Susan today; if so, as I promised, I’ll post it.