It is so weird and sad how every Republican person who is bought into the “Democrats are the real racists!” storyline shares the same 3 or 4 tidbits of information as if it’s your first time hearing it and as if there’s not reams of historical evidence either debunking or contextualizing it.
I just need to build a Magic 8-Ball like program to help them with their arguments. Sides would include:
- Robert Byrd
- Democrats founded the Klan
- Hillary Said Super-Predator!
- Get off the plantation!
- Walk Away
- Evidence Unclear
I’m under no illusion that the Democratic Party is free of racial bias. It’s an American party. So it’s got racial bias, which is a core part of our country’s identity, sadly, along with some of those lofty visions of freedom and liberty that we also have. However, these arguments about the party’s history are both useless and insulting.
If you’ve found yourself making these arguments, I challenge you to sit with a more interesting question. (All “overall” numbers include the black population so are going to be closer than they would be otherwise). Black people are just shy of 13% of the population. They are the most religiously affiliated racial demographic (87% religious vs 83% overall), the most Christian (79% vs 75% overall), and much more devout on average (79% of religious saying religion is “very important” in their lives vs 56%).
So, if the Republican Party is truly a Christian party, and we make the reasonable assumption that Christianity as practiced by African-Americans is valid, then why is it not attractive to the overwhelming majority of them? Let’s make a further assumption that your average black person is a rational actor, like you. They are equally capable of reason and assessing a situation for what it truly is. Why would a Christian rational actor vote something other than Republican?
The typical reasons we give require us to make black people irrational actors. We are presumably swayed by promises of “free stuff” from Democrats. Our Christianity is infected with social justice that has nothing to do with the Gospel. Like children, we just need to be trained up properly in the way we should go.
What if, instead, the Republican Party wasn’t actually advocating for Christian values? What if the Republican Party refused to consistently confront and expunge neo-Confederates in their ranks, practitioners of an ideology that is explicitly anti-black? What if, instead of needing to walk away from a presumed mental enslavement from a party giving out trinkets but no real advancement, black people are rationally dealing with a “lesser evil” because the Republican Party is offering no credible change in their quality of life and will not acknowledge the shadow that America’s bipartisan history casts into the present?
Now, let’s ask a parallel question. Why would poor white people vote for economic policies that have demonstrably hurt their position? If I were to rely on the same reasoning as used on the “black voting problem”, I would be forced to conclude they are irrational, simple-minded actors, swayed easily by promises of protection from people trying to take their things or their status as the superior group. I’d be forced to conclude their Christianity is infected with a love of money and comfort that has nothing to do with the Gospel. But that wouldn’t be fair, would it?
It’s critical that we give the groups we are trying to win over the respect of assuming they’re no less capable of assessing a situation than we are. If you want me to vote Republican, it’s not enough to show me how the Democrats have failed me or fallen short. You need to show me how the Republicans won’t. And you have to be honest with who the party has decided to be.
The Republicans had 17 choices for what direction they could go in 2016. They chose Trump. Somebody, I don’t know who but I think they were important, said “By their fruits shall you know them.” I’m not passing judgment, I’m just looking at the fruit.
(numbers courtesy of Pew – http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/a-religious-portrait-of-african-americans/)