Can the Republican Party emerge as truly being post-racial in a race-sensitive climate cultivated by divisiveness from the left?
By Jesse Civello
It started out as nothing out of the ordinary, simply a routine political meeting. Things quickly became much more than that, much more than a habitual gathering of political thought, much more than a session of skepticism and complaints. Something bigger. Something beyond oneself.
I had walked into the meeting exactly one minute before we were due to begin, to a room with nine other characters already seated. My attendance was a result of an invitation to become a member of a certain campaign committee, specifically to help run the absentee ballot campaign for the candidate in question, and I was eager to begin the meeting. Seated to my left was the county chairman of the Republican Party, next to him the municipal chairman of the Republican Party, and next to him one of our Republican township commissioners. On my right was the Republican area leader and former township commissioner. The fact is, all of the aforementioned individuals are white — white males to be exact.
On the other side of the circle, however, was the female candidate, her campaign manager, her treasurer and two other campaign staffers — all African Americans, all on the other side of the circle. You must be thinking to yourself: this kid is feeling optimistic yet he’s describing a segregated Republican Party meeting, what’s wrong with him? My friends, that assumption would be far from true.
The meeting started out with the Republican chairman of the county talking about why he was there. “I am here tonight because when I hear of a good Republican candidate, I want to meet, get to know and show my support for that individual,” he said. “Tonight I am here to listen to what you have to say, to hear about what you are going to do, but more importantly, to hear what you believe I can do, and what our party can do to help you win.”
After his introduction, the floor was then given to the candidate who gave a presentation on what she and her committee were doing. She was working hard, honestly. She was knocking on all the doors, talking to people, fearing none because of party affiliation and answering tough questions with resilience and determination. She is a winner. I can tell. And, trust me, there is a sincere difference between a candidate wanting to run, and a candidate wanting to win.
The meeting didn’t get “blogworthy,” however, until a heated cross-circle discussion began, a discussion I believe the Republican Party needs to have within our leadership and our country. The topic: Race and the Republican Party. It was said in the meeting that many African American’s seem to be “burnt” by the Republican Party. They seem to be angry, afraid, and disillusioned, even by the mere mention of Republicanism. The room fell quiet, and we all seemed to look around and think silently to ourselves. The county chairman asked to the room a simple question: “What can we do to change this?”
This was a realization to me. It occurred to me at that moment. This discussion, this group, this diversity, this conversation about improving the American way of life was what Republicanism is all about. It’s about being a neighbor in a community; it’s about going beyond practicality and getting real results. Becoming a doer and a thinker. Becoming a patriot for service and standards, and truly practicing what one preaches.
What occurred after the chairman’s question was a discussion of the reality of our party. Who are we and where are we headed? It was mentioned that, in the African-American community, being a Democrat is a tradition passed down and something that people just don’t change. I object to that. I really do. In fact, I believe it’s a necessary change for our Party and our country. We as a Republican Party must begin to practice more and preach less, we must show results instead of analysis, we must–dare I say it–be a positive change within our communities, and I sincerely believe we are the Party to be that change.
We are the Party that recognized the beauty of the American people from all walks of life. Every single African-American in Congress–House and Senate–until 1935 was a Republican. Today, however, there are zero African-American Republicans in either the House or the Senate, a sad glimpse of realism into the state of Republican affairs, a state in which I believe must change.
For months we have without a sound, or even worse without action, listened and watched the infighting and destruction of our party. We have witnessed the news media talk about “Republican destruction,” one that I dare label “self-inflicted.” We are better than this, we are stronger than this and, above all, we must move beyond this.
Consider the aforementioned “segregated circle.” Today, we must widen the circle, open up our Party to the dreams and realities of all Americans and encourage discourse and trial. The Democrats, it seems, always seem to want to use the issue of race to divide. In fact, I’m not certain that such an honest discussion as the one we had at that meeting could have occurred save for the presence of people who view “post-racial” as a goal rather than a meaningless political buzz-word.
The Republican Party must take steps to not only further realize the beauty of “we,” but also work to use that realization to unite Americans — unless we work harder than our counterparts across the aisle work to use race to divide and destroy, I fear our party will never move forward in terms of breaking the Democratic Party tradition in the African-American community.
I firmly believe that if we as a party begin to face the challenges of tomorrow with open arms and rid ourselves of the predetermined and outwardly perceived ignorance that has ruled the GOP as others see it, new doors will open, new opportunities dreamed and positive change will come!
We must ask questions like the Chairman and the campaign staffer, we must work hard like the Republican commissioner and Republican candidate, and we must support our party like a community, because truly a community does not run on the dreams of “I” but on the reality of “we.”
16-year-old Jesse Civello will, this fall, be entering his junior year at Cheltenham High School outside of Philadelphia. An avowed conservative and constitutionalist, Jesse has spoken at numerous Republican Party events and meetings. His dream is to one day become a United States Senator. Jesse began writing for America’s Right in June 2009.