Friday, April 10, 2015

Why Rand Paul’s presidential bid should matter to black America

It is official.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.  But why should black America care?
Pay close attention to his views on mass incarceration and the war on drugs, which could move the Republican Party forward on criminal justice reform and possibly attract blacks, younger voters and other Democratic base voters. But don’t lose sight of the senator’s past statements against civil rights, which sound a lot like the same ol’ GOP story.  And that story, brought to you by the tea party, has not been very friendly to black people these days.
“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” Paul said on his campaign website.
Source: The Grio. Read full article.

A Republican Governor Is Leading the Country’s Most Successful Prison Reform

Photo: Davis Turner / Getty Image

During his second inaugural address this past January, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal shared the story of Sean Walker. After serving 12 years of a life sentence for murder, Walker was paroled in 2005 and began working in the governor’s mansion while in a state transitional center. At the time of Deal’s address, Walker was working for Goodwill as a banquet catering sales coordinator and was nominated for Goodwill International Employee of the Year. As of January, Walker was planning to take college courses with the hope of becoming a counselor.
Deal, who got to know Walker at the governor’s mansion, shared the story to underscore his own “message to those in our prison system and to their families: If you pay your dues to society, if you take advantage of the opportunities to better yourself, if you discipline yourself so that you can regain your freedom and live by the rules of society, you will be given the chance to reclaim your life.” He continued, “I intend for Georgia to continue leading the nation with meaningful justice reform.”
Source: The New Republic Read full article.

Republicans for Same Sex Marriage

This is what the GOP might look like when the culture wars finally end.
Republicans in Massachusetts have openly backed same sex marriage, joining an amicus brief filed by former RNC Chair and Bush Administration official Ken Mehlman.
Almost all of the party’s major figures in Massachusetts have signed the brief including new Governor Charlie Baker. Also signing the brief are Maine Senator Susan Collins and Republican donor David Koch.
The brief makes the conservative case for same sex marriage rights, citing a laundry list of favorite conservative cases and authors. This quote from Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative is particularly biting:
“The Conservative is the first to understand that the practice of freedom requires the establishment of order: it is impossible for one man to be free if another is able to deny him the exercise of his freedom. … He knows that the utmost vigilance and care are required to keep political power within its proper bounds.”
A few other excepts:
The governmental bans at is-issue here rest on similarly ungrounded, archaic, and obsolete beliefs—however sincerely, strongly, or long held—and thus the Fourteenth Amendment requires recognition of the bans’ invalidity.
This Court has repeatedly made clear that although legislators and voters may generally exercise power over certain subjects—including many contentious social issues—the government’s power is limited when it comes to injurious incursions upon the freedom of minorities.
No one at any point in this decades-long debate has been able to describe any credible harm that might rise from same sex marriage. Cut through all the bullshit, and the argument against same sex marriage is absolutely singular – “my religious convictions dictate that homosexuality is wrong.” That’s it.
People are asking the government to discriminate against homosexual couples on the basis of sectarian religious beliefs. There is absolutely no defense for that practice under our Constitution.
When same sex marriage is finally settled law in this country, religious people will remain free to hold their beliefs about the sinfulness of gay couples. They will lose their ability to use those beliefs to constrain the basic Civil Rights of other people.  We all have a right to our religious beliefs. No one has a right to legislate their religious beliefs.
This isn’t a dispute about religious freedom. This is a dispute about cultural supremacy. That’s why the last, most bitter holdouts against gay marriage are the same institutions, people and states who were the last bitter holdouts against the Civil Rights movement.

Gay marriage is likely to destroy something, but it’s not marriage. The fight over gay marriage is going to severely damage the lingering cultural supremacy once enjoyed by white Protestants.

We are on the cusp of experiencing real pluralism for the first time in the country. That’s why same sex marriage matters and that’s why the battle lines are drawn across the same boundaries as in the Civil Rights movement.
Massachusetts Republicans are recognizing, a little late, what most of the rest of the country has already come to terms with. If the party at large has the good sense to drop this issue then a lot of future harm can be avoided.
The full text of the conservative amicus brief in favor of same sex marriage can be found here.
About the Author: Chris Ladd is a Texan who is now living in the Chicago area. He is the founder of Building a Better GOP and has served for several years as a Republican Precinct Committeeman in DuPage County, IL, and was active in state and local Republican campaigns in Texas for many years.

HHR Interview with Leah Wright Rigueur, author of The Loneliness of the Black Republican

Like most Ivy League professors, Leah Wright Rigueur is not a Republican. Yet like most African-Americans, shefound it curious that anyone would be. “African-Americans should not be Republicans, nor should they be conservatives Rigueur opens her new book,The Loneliness of the Black Republican. And yet they are.
Rigueur wanted to know why.
Consequently, she gives us a 310-page history which introduces us to figures from the obscure (Arthur Fletcher) to the notorious (Barry Goldwater); and facts unknown about the famous – both revered (Jackie Robinson) and reviled (Richard Nixon).
On first blush, Rigueur may not endear herself to her book’s subjects by calling them “lonely.” But the Harvard historian points to Clarence Thomas as having first characterized black Republicans as “lonely”; and the conservative scribe Shelby Steele who did the same.
More importantly, in her new book, Rigueur wants us to know that black Republicans haven’t just been “lonely,” they’ve been integral to the American civil rights struggle. The Kennedy School historian delved through what she estimated, in an interview with HHR, to be some 20,000 documents shedding light on some 44-years of American history. And she tells 44-years of American history through the lens of a group she maintains has had underappreciated influence.
“At times,” Rigueur writes:
…we find not a peculiar group of blacks, desperate for white acceptance or out of touch with American realities but rather a movement of African-Americans working for an alternative economic and civil rights movement.
That passage defines the books approach. Subtitled “Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power, the book locates conservative Africans-Americans making pragmatic trade-offs, working on the American Right whilst simultaneously working to advance black interests.
At turns, both critical and laudatory, Rigueur’s narrative coins seemingly-oxymoronic concepts like “progressive conservatism,” reacquaints us with ideas which have fallen into disuse with the passage of time like “Black Capitalism,” and delivers what (to some) maybe be implausible news that the Father of Affirmative Action was a Republican.
Yet we also learn that “#NegroSpotting” at Republican conventions isn’t something that was invented byBaratunde Thurston in 2012, but black satirists have been doing that since at least the 1972 convention.
Black Capitalism was – and is – an attempt “to use economics as a way to move past traditional protest politics, Rigueur explains. “Black capitalism is black power in the best sense of the word,” read a glossy advertisement Richard Nixon’s campaign took out in the 1968 issue of Jet magazine. And she chroniclesthe impressive investments made by administrations like Nixon and Fords in historically black colleges & universities, school desegregation, black businesses grants, and contracting with minority businesses at Nixon’s Inauguration and GOP functions – to the tune of billions of dollars.
Yet, when Rigueur trains her critical lens on the GOP outreach project, she explains, that the GOP hasperennially suffered from a cynical strain in the party which believed as Goldwater groaned in 1964, “We’re not going to get the Negro vote as a bloc,” so why bother trying to get any of it – culminating in Pat Moynihan’s infamous “benign neglect” memo.
Rigueur’s greatest achievement in this book might be offering this insightful tool to analyze the GOP:great GOP policy has often been undercut by horrendous GOP politics. Nixon was a pioneer in desegregating schools, but severely hobbled its success by undermining the political will needed to achieve it. Likewise, combating negative black stereotypes visa-vi Black Capitalism was undermined by the political strategy that spoke in terms of “law and order” and “welfare queens. All of which, left many in Nixon’s black Cabinet “collectively searching their souls to justify their own participation” in the party.

HHR interviewed Professor Rigueur about her book. What follows are highlights of that interview.

HHR: You introduce us to lots of obscureyet historically-important, figures in this book whom many have probably never heard of before – black Republican White advisors to Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and the RNC – names like: E. Fred Morrow, Bob Brown, Stan Scott, Helen Thomas, and Transportation Secretary Bill Coleman. A notable one is Arthur Fletcher. In a 2005 NPR interview, hisgranddaughter, Phyllis Fletcher, explained her father had T-shirts made which read: “Father of Affirmative Action” he handed out at speaking engagement,” and she said:
“Art Fletcher did something good for black people—something that belongs in the history books…I knew he was frustrated people didn’t know his name like Martin Luther King or Malcolm X…The T-shirts—I’m sure they’re headed for Goodwill. But with any luck someone will see one and get curious, they’ll find a computer and they’ll look up ‘The Father of Affirmative Action,’ and they’ll find the stories that made his life so frustrating [yet] so meaningful.”
Art Fletcher and Rosa Park died in the same year, why does everyone know about one but not the other?