Saturday, April 25, 2009

“Hip- Hop Republicanism”: A Manifesto

“Hip- Hop Republicanism” is a growing urban movement of progressive urban conservatives. Hip-Hop Republicanism is a grassroots movement born out of a frustration with blind party loyalty and 40-plus years of mismanaged urban polices. It is a movement that seeks to educate and empower people not hinder them. It is a movement that seeks to empower the individual positively while seeking to effect change in urban communities. Republicans are not anti-government, but believe in efficient and if possible limited government . As such, we Hip-Hop Republicans believe that government's social contract and our moral compass require helping those in need.

Nevertheless, we also believe that if a non-governmental entity can provide a more efficient service it should be allowed too. As urban Republicans, we believe that any entitlement program should include metrics of proven success and should have as its ultimate aim the empowerment of the individual not the government. This means that any temporary guarantee of assistance must be accompanied by requisite training.

In his, article “The Blueprint for Urban Conservatism?” Brandon Brice, a Harlem resident and self-described “Hip- Hop Republican,” noted that the economic power of Hip Hop culture has created more African-American entrepreneurs than any other industry in America, which gives partial credence to our adoption of the name. The mission of the Urban Republican movement is to highlight and provide solutions for real issues; health care affordability, fiscal responsibility, solutions to better inner city schools and job creation. Let us think about the trends of economic activity in urban America.

In 2007, Def Jam Chairman Russell Simmons created a credit based debt card for urban families to input funds on a card, without creating debt or overdraft fees, as a means to educate on financial literacy. In 2007, Atlanta rapper T.I. started T.I construction as a means to help recently released ex-convicts find employment. Def Jam South Rapper David Banner teaches low-income residents in the south about the importance of saving and investing. Jay-Z, when he is not on tour, gives more to Make A Wish, Brooklyn Public Schools and the Marcy projects than any other rap celebrity in the New York City area. As aforementioned the hip-hop movement is a potent and persistent socio-economic force, and although their are grievances to be aired with some of its' symbolism we must recognize the positive impact made and leverage that to correct the injustices allowed by Wall Street and Washington policymakers.

In reality, urban conservatism speaks to all of the persistent issue’s in urban communities, by offering advanced literature and school voucher programs in neighborhood schools to counter educational inequities. The Urban Republican movement seeks to influence ex-gang members to put down the guns and pick up a book, or a pen to learn how to legally integrate into society. This movement takes experts out of the hospitals to speak on pro-active health in local community centers. The movement utilizes media contacts, not for personal gain, but to address the crisis of housing affordability, or the need for tax reform so that taxpayers are not baring the burden via tax dollars. The movement recognizes that America is changing and the need for the Republican Party to adapt and offer new solutions. What makes this concept of Urban Republicanism unique is that it pushes minorities to become self sufficient and responsible. The blue print for urban Republicanism is for the party to take on new problems in the 21st Century. The movement recognizes that Republicans can no longer run on set guidelines to win elections, but must solely run on the issues.

An example of a vibrant urban Republican agenda can be found on the website of The DC Republican Committee (DCRC) which created a document entitled "A Republican Urban Agenda". Many urban Republicans and Hip-Hop Republicans can support this document. We believe that this document can be a start in implementing an effective strategy that Republicans can use nationwide. If the Republican Party is going to take its fight to urban American, it must be prepared and it must be in sync with the people it seeks to empower.

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