Five years ago I left a position in the Department of Homeland Security to attend law school. It was my second appointment under the administration of President George W. Bush. Neither political appointment was a senior position but they were positions that I look back on with much pride. I learned a great deal from many wise and thoughtful individuals. I was allowed to comment and affect policy in ways many twenty-something only dream of and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity afforded to me during my time in D.C. And I looked forward to what appeared to be a promising political future. Apparently others in the Republican Party (primarily state and district leaders) had different plans for me.
From August 2008 to the present, I have been lied to, repeatedly, by party officials concerning plans and intentions regarding outreach to minority communities, I have had high level party officials work against me in intraparty contests (in one particular contest the state party’s executive director recruited a candidate to run against me) and I’ve had elected officials pat me on the back and tell me to wait “my turn” while I watch them groom and promote younger (and whiter) individuals over me. And all the while I stood back and saluted the flag like a loyal soldier, supporting the candidates and causes.
I bring this up now because something happened a few weeks ago that finally opened my eyes.
A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a roundtable of African-American conservatives with gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. This is standard fare in my world, every Republican candidate throws this particular bone out to black conservatives, we sit and listen while the candidate promises us the world and we usually don’t see him until 1 or 2 years later at a reception or something. I’ve been to hundreds of these things. But the gentleman who extended the invitation to me let me know that he was told not to invite me because I had been critical of Mr. Cuccinelli earlier this year.
So even though I have devoted 20 years of my life to volunteering and supporting Republican candidates, going door to door for them, passing out literature for them, monitoring polls for them, speaking on their behalf and working for them, I’m apparently now not good enough to attend a meeting of black conservatives with them? Even though the meeting consisted of fence sitters and conservative Democrats? But a former political appointee of a Republican Presidential administration was nearly not invited? Let that sink in.
And that’s just my own personal story, there are many other black Republicans in this state, some who have come forward already, others who haven’t because they still hope this party will live up to its promises. But as for me, I’m done with the Republican Party and her candidates. Effective immediately. Now I am not declaring my support for the Democratic Party and its candidates for statewide office. The Democratic Party does not represent my values and as it goes won’t for a very, very long time. And I still plan on continuing to fight for the issues that are most important to me, the sanctity of life, education reform and the like, just not as a flunky of the Republican Party. If Republican candidates want my support they’ll have to ask.
What I am saying is that I cannot and will not continue to blindly support the Republican Party and her candidates while my friends and I are taken for granted and subjected to the worst kind of treatment imaginable in politics. We have seen our issues ignored, the candidates who look like us are underfunded and disregarded and our communities are largely passed over. And yet us few black conservatives have kept our heads down and accepted our lot. The funniest line I continue to hear from fellow African-Americans is that we black conservatives are sell-outs, because if that’s the case I’d like to know where the hell the payoff is.
For years I’ve criticized the Democratic Party for taking their African-American support for granted and now it seems the Republican Party is doing the exact same thing to the select few African-American conservatives who have stood by her year after year. And I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t call my party out for it and declare, ENOUGH! I’ve had enough lies, enough empty promises and enough disrespect. A party that cannot support us doesn’t deserve our support.
I originally joined the Republican Party because of figures like Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan, because of the universal appeal of free enterprise and traditional values; I genuinely believed the Party of Lincoln wanted to help people, all people. But today I’m leaving a party that has turned its back on a great legacy; today its leaders and officials are more concerned with keeping and acquiring power than helping anyone. Kemp, Reagan and Lincoln would be embarrassed by the cast of shameless social climbers, boot lickers and empty suits that call themselves Republicans today, as am I.
When the Republican Party returns to its roots and starts promoting the values and ideas that first drew me to her maybe I’ll rejoin. But until then I will proudly stand on the outside looking in, no longer allowing myself to be used or taken advantage of.