Black GOP Se­nate nom­i­nee gen­er­ates Demo­cratic flak

Austin American-Statesman - - BALANCED VIEWS -


Amer­i­can Repub­li­cans catch a lot of flak, but they can also be an il­lu­mi­nat­ing force in the Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. The re­ac­tion they of­ten gen­er­ate shows that lib­er­als aren’t as pro­gres­sive as they pre­tend to be. The left will not hes­i­tate to come af­ter any­one who threat­ens to weaken its hold on black vot­ers.

The re­ac­tion also shows that many African-Amer­i­can ac­tivists aren’t com­pletely sin­cere about want­ing the com­mu­nity to achieve po­lit­i­cal power and break bar­ri­ers. In the end, the only peo­ple they want to see ar­rive at po­si­tions of in­flu­ence are those be­holden to the Demo­cratic Party.

In the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, black Repub­li­cans are re­garded with sus­pi­cion. The few African-Amer­i­cans who aren’t Democrats are con­sid­ered un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive and out of step. In this year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Pres­i­dent Obama got 93 per­cent of the African-Amer­i­can vote. It’s tempt­ing to treat the 6 per­cent of black vot­ers who sup­ported Rom­ney as an anom­aly.

As ev­i­dence, con­sider the nasty treat­ment that Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is re­ceiv­ing af­ter South Carolina Gov. Nikki Ha­ley an­nounced re­cently that she would name him to re­place re­tir­ing Sen. Jim DeMint, who is leav­ing to run the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, a con­ser­va­tive think tank.

The ap­point­ment is a big deal. Scott will be­come the first black se­na­tor from the South since Re­con­struc­tion and, at present, the only African-Amer­i­can in the Se­nate from ei­ther party. Not bad for some­one raised in poverty by a sin­gle mother. This is an Amer­i­can success story. It’s what progress looks like.

So are those on the left cel­e­brat­ing? Of course not. If Scott were a Demo­crat, they would be rais­ing cham­pagne glasses. The ac­tivists would la­bel his ar­rival in the Se­nate a his­toric event, and the me­dia would run sto­ries about how AfricanAmer­i­cans in the South are gain­ing po­lit­i­cal promi­nence.

But since Scott is a Repub­li­can, the left sees noth­ing pos­i­tive in this ap­point­ment. In fact, Scott be­comes a tar­get — just like His­panic Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida and GOP Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas. The goal will be to dis­credit Scott as an in­tel­lec­tual light­weight, a re­li­gious zealot, a right-wing ex­trem­ist or all of the above.

The of­fen­sive has al­ready started. In a snarky op-ed in The New York Times, Adolph L. Reed Jr., a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, dis­missed Scott as a “to­ken” put up by the Repub­li­can Party to cam­ou­flage its hos­til­ity to AfricanAmer­i­cans and other mi­nori­ties.

“I sus­pect that ap­point­ments like Mr. Scott’s are di­rected less at blacks — whom they know they aren’t go­ing to win in any sig­nif­i­cant num- bers — than at whites who are in­clined to vote Repub­li­can but don’t want to have to think of them­selves, or be thought of by oth­ers, as racist,” Reed wrote. “Just as white South­ern Democrats once used cyn­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tions — poll taxes, grand­fa­ther clauses, lit­er­acy tests — to get around the 15th Amend­ment, so mod­ern-day Repub­li­cans have de­ployed blacks to un­der­mine black in­ter­ests.”

Really? Isn’t it clear to just about ev­ery­one by now that what un­der­mines “black in­ter­ests” — in the realm of pol­i­tics — is the fact that African-Amer­i­cans are taken for granted by Democrats and writ­ten off by Repub­li­cans? It’s un­de­ni­able that Obama in­spires pride within that com­mu­nity. But even he has come un­der fire from some on the left, who are up­set over his lack of at­ten­tion to is­sues such as ur­ban vi­o­lence, ne­glected neigh­bor­hoods and an un­em­ploy­ment rate among African-Amer­i­can youth that hov­ers around 30 per­cent.

Why haven’t Democrats done more in re­cent years to im­prove the con­di­tion of African-Amer­i­cans and other mi­nori­ties?

It’s not enough to at­tack black Repub­li­cans as in­au­then­tic or in­ad­e­quate. Democrats have to show that they still merit the back­ing of some of their most loyal con­stituen­cies. If they can’t do that, then they no longer de­serve the sup­port.

Le­an­der’s third gro­cery store could be an H-E-B on the cor­ner of FM 2243 and Ron­ald Rea­gan Boule­vard. Some say the po­ten­tial store is a tes­ta­ment to the city’s con­tin­ued growth, but some neigh­bors, cit­ing con­cerns about flood­ing and traf­fic, say de­vel­op­ers need to look else­where. The Le­an­der City Coun­cil will con­sider a zon­ing change needed to al­low for the store Jan. 17.

Dave Jimenez: The peo­ple op­pos­ing H-E-B just can’t han­dle growth. H-E-B is a great store chain!

Matthew Somerville: It al­ways hap­pens that some­one is not happy, but at least H-E-B does con­sider neigh­bors’ opin­ions. Many com­pa­nies will just build and won’t

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