PW Roundtable: Black Republicans on Their Existential Struggles

Oft scorned by both their constituencies, three DIY political activists from Philly discuss what it's like to be long-shot conservatives.

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Feb. 27, 2013

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Harris: I caught all kinds of negative comments [for saying I respect Obama]. I had to go off and checkmate everybody in the building. I’m older than half of them; they’re as young as my son. And you’re going to tell me how to think? ... We believe in politics and we believe in our platform, but let’s keep in mind we’re all part of the human race and we’re all Americans.

Spence: He’s still our commander-in-chief.

Mansfield: President Obama is still our commander-in-chief.

Harris: Right.

Spence: He [refers to Sgt. Mansfield] made an oath. He made an oath between him and God.

Mansfield: That’s why I try not to disrespect the commander-in-chief by referring to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare.” It’s not Obamacare. Why are we disrespecting this man like this? … Republicans would tell me, “We’re not voting for you because you don’t stand for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.” I’m sorry. Don’t vote for me. But they’re contradicting themselves by chastising Chairman Harris for making a cursory comment about respecting the first African-American president. You’ve gotta understand, most of my heroes don’t appear on no damn stamp. It’s a reality. W.E.B. Dubois, Fredrick Douglass—if you want to know a real Republican, he was the—

Spence:
That’s number one.

Mansfield: —he was the ultimate black Republican. So if I had to distinguish myself between a Frederick Douglass Republican and a Ronald Reagan Republican, I would be a Frederick Douglass Republican.

PW: Let’s look at the state legislature in Pennsylvania. There are a lot of minority representatives in the Democratic Party; there are only two in the Republican Party. How do you think the Republican Party in Pennsylvania can add more minority representation up there?

Spence: If you want to run an individual black, back him. Stop pulling out at the last minute and saying it’s a waste of money, and back that man like you would any other candidate.

Mansfield: I think we have to learn to do what Malcolm X said. Malcolm X said go out into the field and rap to the people. I think if Malcolm was here today, he’d probably say go out into the field and rap with the people. We have to speak with them, and not to them and not at them. We have to stop that. I hear a lot of people in the Tea Party say they don’t understand why minorities don’t become Republicans [considering their social values], and … first of all histrionics don’t matter. No one cares about Martin Luther King being a Republican. They don’t care about that.

Spence: Half of them don’t even know that.

Mansfield: They don’t know and don’t care. The other thing is, they’re tired of white Republicans talking from Washington, talking from Harrisburg, but they don’t come to the neighborhoods and speak with these people ... It’s important that we, as Republicans, one, focus on recruiting and speaking with our neighbors and getting the word out. Two, we as Republicans need to show up at some of these community meetings. They don’t see us in the neighborhood, we don’t exist. And finally, we as African-Americans need to understand that we’re dominant in football, we’re dominant in basketball, we dominate the rap world, hip-hop. What I don’t understand is, why is that we have an open door in this city to take over a political party and yet we just sit there and cuss at the light. We need to stop cussing at the light despite the dark. We have to ... if the door is open and you can take over a political party, then take over. I hear people tell me that Republicans don’t reach out to you. I didn’t have to wait for the Republican Party to come to me. It was suggested by Dr. Danjczek. In this day and age now, in 2013, if I want to be involved with the Tea Party, go show up at a Tea Party meeting. Go show up at a Republican ward leader meeting.

America needs statesmen, not politicians. I was at a change of command at a military base yesterday. And those [soldiers] said we need more statesmen than what we have. We have to do better. They’re destroying the military, in a sense, with all these social issues. And the Army is only as good as the community from which the people come from. To join the Army, to join the Marines, when I joined the National Guard in 1996 and I went to basic training, the Army didn’t have to give me my values, they validated my values. Today, the Army has to give these young people coming into the military service their values. And if you don’t have those values before you get there, you’re not going to get them. You’ll become corrupt. You’ll become easy to corrupt. And when you send a young person off into a war zone, you need to know that they have a set of values that will put the country first—not your government, because governments come and go. Your country is here. It’s a mainstay. So, I didn’t have to have the Army teach me values, and I was grateful, because those values kept me alive in Iraq, and there were some very dark moments. Those values need to be there.

America needs statesmen, not politicians. Not “My way or the highway, I’m not compromising with him because he’s a Democrat” or “I’m not compromising with him because he’s a Republican.” It’s OK to be a Republican, it’s OK to be a Democrat, but you need to compromise. You don’t need to compromise your principles, but you need to come to the table. The art of legislating is about compromise. But today, the fringe elements of both parties reward you for being stupid.

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1. Phill H. said... on Mar 1, 2013 at 12:57PM

“After reading this article, all I can say is... these men have made lame excuses for choosing the republican party. One says he's pro-life. The other says, his wife manages the finances and the other one says, because someone told me too. They would rather lick the boots of all the republicans and be "the spook who sat by the door" who doesn't have a real plan to overcome all of the obstacles the republicans have thrown at them. One even talked about supporting the voter ID bill because of voter fraud. I guess he hasn't received the latest report that those claims were unfounded. It's no surprise that African American men and women walk away from these men when they begin to open their mouths. They haven't realized that their sole purpose for the republicans is to put them on display when they're going against an African American candidate. They are the dog and pony of the elections.”

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2. rbhall said... on Mar 3, 2013 at 12:40AM

“Of course it's a dog and pony show. The democrats are doing the same thing! The key is to focus on gaining some control over the economics in the community. Start with the chamber of commerce.”

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3. DrJay1966 said... on Mar 3, 2013 at 09:30PM

“The reason people don't know or care that Martin Luther King was a Republican, as these gentlemen say, is quite simple: he wasn't one. That's a right wing myth begun by King's Republican niece, Alveda. King generally kept out of party politics, except for the 1964 presidential election, when he openly supported Kennedy (Democrat) over Goldwater (Republican). Furthermore, the politics of his opposition to the Vietnam War and his Poor People's Campaign were to the left of the Democrats, then, and would be far to the left of the Democrats, now (contrary to another right wing myth, the Democratic party is now about as far to the right on foreign and economic policy as the Republicans were in the 60's).”

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4. LS Means said... on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:33PM

“If we have a chip on our shoulder, we will never be satisfied with the Republican Party. Bush didn't put Powell and Rice in important cabinet positions because of tokenism, it's because he believed in their inner abilities. Republicans don't talk about color, they act upon merit. These so-called Philly Republicans are saying on one hand, "those guys (the Republicans) don't care about black folks becuase they don't have black folks out in front" but then in the same breath they say "well, the Republicans just put forward a token black person and that person is a fraud." (You can't have it both ways.) The Republicans aren't playing up to us at all because they don't think race carries any special favoritism. It really doesn't if you want to be honest about it. Equality under the law and not equality of results was the basis of our country. Everyone can do his best and then we judge based upon merit only--there is nothing special about skin color to the Republicans nor should there be.”

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5. Taami said... on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:19AM

“Thank you for this wonderful article on black Republicans. I consider myself a recovering former member of the Republican party and I share their concern over where the party is headed. Truth is, African Americans were largely Republican before the Civil Rights era, when the party became infiltrated with racist white Southern Democrats who were fleeing their party. Unfortunately that legacy of racism pervades the Republican party to this day.

At some point the only way the party will survive is by recognizing that people of color, including African Americans, largely believe in conservative principles -- strong religious faith, self-sufficiency and limited government interference in our lives. What they do not embrace is the racist undertones still prevalent in Republican politics. Code words like "entitlement spending" and "redistribution of wealth" don't help, they only hurt.”

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6. Carol D. Tart said... on Mar 5, 2013 at 10:36PM



KNOW THY HISTORY!

With all due respect, why are they complaining?

At the Republican Convention in 2000, Renee Amoore and the New Majority Council (NMC) became responsible for recruiting Blacks, Latinos and Asians (BAL) to increase their involvement in the Republican Party. In 12 years, the BAL numbers remained stagnant or decreased as evidenced by the 2012 national voter demographics. Therefore, before 'Three the Wrong Way' want to blame white folks, then they must first place blame with Renee Amoore and NMC for their failures.

Furthermore, I’ve seen Kenny Gamble in photos with Trent Lott (groundbreaking of Universal Homes in 2000), Mitt Romney (2012 at a Universal Charter School) and other republicans. Gamble also spoke at the 2000 Republican Convention held in Philadelphia. Therefore, if Kenny Gamble is a favorite Republican Black, did these men seek his advice because Mr. Gamble gets funds to build his empire?

The ROC’s don't need the support of the local Republican Party; they need funds from Republican Political Action Committees! Just take a look at this nonsense and ask yourself why Republicans remain tied to Philadelphia's Republican City Committee (RCC) when that political group REFUSES -- I sent an email with a request -- to update its website with current information (as of March 5, 2013):

ELECTED OFFICIALS
State Reprensentative Tom Murt
State Reprensentative Dennis O’Brien
State Reprensentative John Taylor
City Council Brian O’Neill
City Council Jack Kelly
City Council Frank Rizzo
City Commisioner Joseph Duda

The most egregious errors with the list are the misspelling of REPRESENTATIVE and COMMISSIONER and the names listed. And where are the names of Al Schmidt (City Commissioner), David Oh (At-Large Councilman) and why isn’t Councilman O’Brien’s elected title updated? This makes absolutely NO SENSE...the entire website is a hot mess!

Therefore, why are these men complaining about INCLUSION when it doesn't need the RCC to shakeup the local REPUBLICAN PARTY? They should be creating platforms/agenda, hosting fundraisers, teaching voter education and vetting candidates for upcoming elections. By the way, due to shifting voter demographics, elected officials like O’Neil, O’Brien, Oh and Schmidt may be in jeopardy if these men think outside the box and groom their potential opponents for 2015.

Last and most importantly, it's sad and disgraceful the men interviewed NEVER mentioned DR. ETHEL ALLEN, the first black women and first Republican Black elected to City Council. It's also very sad the Republican Party in Philadelphia doesn’t recognize Dr. Allen for making history, either. Even worse is the lack of recognition by the PA GOP for Dr. Allen’s appointment as Secretary of State by Gov. Thornburgh in 1979. Therefore, until the Republican Party in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania recognize and honor Dr. Allen, no matter what those men or any other republicans say things will remain the same. Dang, I guess History really does repeat itself even 30 years later!

(I find it peculiar Lew Harris was the Republican ward leader in the 29th because Sidney Allen, Sr. (Dr. Allen’s father) was the 29th’s Democratic ward leader in the 1960s-1970s.)

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7. Lele Wilson said... on Mar 9, 2013 at 03:21AM

“My question is why do they have to explain themselves to anyone?”

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8. JOgershok said... on Mar 24, 2013 at 05:24PM

“DrJay1966, JFK was assassinated in 1963. Johnson was the nominee against Goldwater.

Martin Luther King, Sr., the father of Martin Luther King, Jr., was a lifelong Republican. In October 1960, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested at a peaceful sit-in in Atlanta, Robert Kennedy telephoned the judge and helped secure King's release. Although King, Sr. had previously opposed Kennedy he expressed his appreciation for these calls and switched his support to Kennedy. At this time, King, Sr. had endorsed Republican Richard Nixon in the 1960 election.

King Sr. played a notable role in the nomination of Jimmy Carter as the Democratic candidate for President in the 1976 election and delivered the invocation at the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions.

King, Jr. never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president but stated: "In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket." and "I felt that Kennedy would make the best president."”

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