Monday, June 07, 2010

LENNY MCALLISTER OP-ED: Another Salvo in the Culture War

By Lenny McAllister

The more that the RNC under Michael Steele attempts to change the culture of the Republican Party, the more that some GOP circles stay the same.

Over the course of the past several weeks, the GOP has been able to boast of the first meeting of Black Republican minds where the national chairman of the RNC and several vice-chairmen throughout the nation at the state level were African-American. Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez won the GOP nomination for governor of the state of New Mexico. 32 Black Congressional candidates campaigned for office under the GOP banner. Charles Djou’s victory in Hawaii was seen as a welcomed yet unexpected win for the GOP.

Yet, in the culture war that has taken over the RNC since the Republican Repulsion of 2006 and 2008, every time there are clear steps towards inclusion, there also seems to be a ying-yang-like response that threatens to counteract the groundwork that Michael Steele and other Republican leaders are putting into place for the GOP’s future as a political player in a multi-cultural 21st century America.

NCGOP Chairman Tom Fetzer’s targeting of NC House Rep. Pearl Burris-Floyd in the Republican primary last month - despite Burris-Floyd’s status as the first -ever Black Republican to serve in the NC General Assembly - came coupled with Fetzer’s ill-fated call for Steele’s resignation from the RNC chair. These actions served as just some of several signs that some leaders within the Republican Party are more willing to run towards the worst parts of the GOP’s past, even as other Republican leaders are running campaigns to win in a culturally-diverse future. Tom Tancredo’s calls for literacy tests at the polls reeked of a return to Jim Crow-style limitations that preceded Southern Strategy. Glenn Beck’s mocking (coupled with a degrading accent) of Malia Obama made even the most ardent of conservatives question where the line of decency is now drawn. Rand Paul’s disapproval of Civil Rights legislation on “individuals’ rights” merits - akin to the same “states’ rights” argument that cemented institutional racism for decades - voiced merely days after winning the GOP nomination for US Senate.

And now we hear of “ragheads in the Governor’s mansion.”

South Carolina State Senator Jake Knotts’ comment comes as the latest in a line of anti-diversity actions that stand only on the grounds of hatred based on race, nothing more. And for all of the gaffes that people may discuss regarding Steele or other minority Republicans in the public eye, those gaffes would be more forgivable and forgettable during this important 2010 election cycle if it were not contrast against the image of other fellow Republicans’ open racism and repugnance. As it is, it is hard enough to bring diversity to a ground that has succeeded in presidential elections without out. It is harder still to prepare the GOP - and new generations of voters - for a stronger Republican Party while a number of Republican leaders continue to speak with the diction of the 1950s while claiming to lead us into the 21st century.

For those that forget, Jake Knotts reminds us both of a bumbling fool in an authority role due to his affiliation with others (much like the Don Knotts role in “The Andy Griffith Show”) but of something more: the Republican Party is, indeed, engaged in a culture war where the future of the Party and the nation is at stake. If the Republican Party becomes overtaken by the regressive radicalism that Knotts and others symbolize with their blatant racism, the GOP will surely shrink in relevancy within the next 10 years as a more diverse America will continue to shrink the Party in urban cities, growing suburbs, and up-trending populations. If that occurs, government’s influence over Americans’ daily lives will only expand, regardless of how ineffective its actions prove to be. People would rather wither on the proverbial government vain that affiliate politically with those that would rather see them hang from an actual tree.

High-tension issues such as immigration only provide more opportunities for ill-mannered Republican activists to rail about “ragheads”, “sand niggers”, and “wetbacks” ( /). That should provide all of the inspiration for us to remember actively and always: the Republican Party is engaged in a culture war, the nation is engaged in a philosophical civil war, and the future is in the hands of this political war. If honorable Republicans allow the dishonor from our past to continue to seep into today, we risk losing all three of these wars - and America as we know it in the process.

Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator, podcast co-host, and the author of the book, “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative,)” purchased online at and Catch Lenny this week on “The New School” on POTUS 130 on XM-Sirius Satellite Radio ( ) (Check listings online for airtimes in your area.) Follow him at

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