There’s a problem that I believe all of us see in today’s Republican Party: a lack of diversity. Over the weekend, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke to members of an African-American church in South Carolina. While I am not a fan of Gingrich, I must give him credit. He went outside of the norm, and actually reached out to African-Americans on their own turf.
But, here are the facts. According to a 2010 Gallup Poll Report, only 2% of African-Americans identify themselves as Republican. 5% of Hispanics say they are Republican, compared to 88% of whites saying they are most closely identified with the Republican Party. The percentage of whites in the Republican Party was broken down into two groups. Those who are highly religious (47%), and those who are less religious (41%). Why? Being an African-American and from the South this is a matter of history.
In a report titled, “African Americans and the Republican Party,” Dr. Phillip Ardoin and Dr. Ronald Vogel take a look at the history of African-Americans and our political parties. They find that from the day African Americans were seen as free people, they closely identified themselves as being Republican. This is due to “President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership during the Civil War, and the support of the Republican Party during Reconstruction.”
But, African-American support really dwindled during President Theodore Roosevelt’s tenure in office, “when Roosevelt urged African-Americans to accept white supremacy, and Roosevelt’s support of efforts to replace the integrated southern wing of the Republican Party with an all-white branch.” They say it wasn’t until President Franklin Roosevelt entered office until African-American’s really started coming to the Democratic Party. Since then, Democrats have enjoyed the loyal support of the African-American community.
It’s important that both parties try to encompass the ideas and issues facing all Americans. There is not a day that goes by in which I feel I will be truly represented and cared about by the Republican Party, not only because of the history, but also because of the rhetoric. Terms like “food stamp president” need to stop. I guarantee that if there is more of an emphasis on problems and less on rhetoric, more African-Americans will be apt to support Republicans. But until that happens, the lack of diversity in today’s GOP will remain the same.
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