By Tiffany Shorter
Black Republicans are extremely unpopular this election season since Barack Obama may be the first African American president. If he wins the White House, it would be a momentous occasion in American politics. Regardless of who becomes president in November, this campaign presents a troubling paradox. Some want to misrepresent the election as a black and white picture that all open-minded tolerate individuals will vote for Obama and the rich and white are behind John McCain.
Many African Americans say that every black voter should support Obama because he is black. White Democrats should vote for him despite that he is black.
At the same time, for centuries we have fought for equal treatment in this country. We want to be looked at, as Martin Luther King Jr. describes, by the “content of our character”.
However, black supporters of John McCain are attacked and labeled as race traitors and Uncle Toms. Is it only acceptable to ask society to be colorblind as long as it is in favor of liberal views?
I, along with other black conservatives, am proud that Obama is making history. All Americans should be pleased to see a live example that political leadership is open to all races and ethnic groups. Knowing that he is just like any other white presidential candidate, the American people are going to evaluate him similarly to his predecessors who have run for office.
Many blacks and whites are going to vote for Barack Obama because they agree with his policies. Race will be an insignificant factor. This is ethical voting, selecting a candidate mainly on his or her policy positions is the epitome of American democracy.
Judging Obama as I would any other candidate, his inexperience and left-wing ideology fails to get my vote.
How can any African American vote for McCain over Obama?
McCain is getting my vote for three reasons; he is a moderate conservative, he has an outstanding record of leadership and he knows foreign policy. As a moderate Republican, I appreciate that McCain knows how to work with Democrats to move legislation. He has a history of placing partisanship aside even when it cost him conservative votes. His support for the United Nations to intervene in Darfur, proves his compassion. I feel secure in knowing that he will create an exit strategy in Iraq that will avoid future national security risks.
Regarding crucial African American issues, I know that neither John McCain nor Barack Obama will make our issues a top priority. Whoever wins office; the black community must be self-reliant and be rigorous in advocating the issues that matter to us most, as we have always done throughout our history. It will be naïve and ridicule to contend that the skin color of the next president will definitely improve the black community without grassroots activism. Furthermore, many of our challenges cannot be simply resolved by government intervention.
Better family unity, education and commitment to self-empowerment, are key to our progress, but these actions are out of the government’s scope.
Some Black Democrats assert that a vote against Obama means betraying our race. Several blindly believe that a President Obama will significantly improve black communities across the nation.
If this is true, then the many black Democrats who are already in public office can be blamed for the problems in our neighborhoods. As one of Obama’s constituent in Illinois, I have yet to witness a sudden surge of blacks moving from the disadvantage areas of Chicago’s south and west sides to homes in the suburbs.
Can we fault our leaders for too few of us with college degrees and too many of our children being raised without fathers? Perhaps these politicians should be responsible for people having unprotected sex, and thus adding themselves to the increasing number of African Americans inflected with HIV?
As a black conservative, I overall support our leaders in the government and the community regardless of partisanship. However, I disagree on the methods and ideas that can best address certain problems.
I am confident that one day the Republican Party will nominate a black presidential candidate that I can vote for because I agree with his or her policies rather than just skin color. The GOP has generated some of the most commendable black leaders such as Martin Luther Kings Jr., Booker T. Washington, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Alan Keyes, J.C. Watts and Michael S. Steele. If black Democrats choose not to vote for a black Republican presidential candidate in the future, I will not question their loyalty and support for our community.
Tiffany Shorter is the Director of Communications for YPFP in New York. She works for the Hudson Institute. She moved to New York after graduate school at the University of Kent in Brussels, Belgium. Her focus is on the United Nations as a international security institution.