Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 16: The National Republican African American Caucus Has Its Say May 13, 2010

May 13, 2010

NRAAC's National Chair
Dr. Jean Howard-Hill

National Republican African American Caucus [NRAAC] Blog

The National Republican African American Caucus Has Its
Say!: 18 Day Political Revival

Day 16: Why the Republican Party needs more than a few "token" and "Kodak Moment" flies in the bowl of buttermilk.

The Republican Party has some major challenges that lie ahead. Mainly because of the dwindling numbers of it base, it must begin to seek ways to attract new voters.

Very few realize that it was President Nixon of all people, who was the first Republican to understand and use the potency of the white southern Christian vote. That was a little more than forty years ago. But now, that once powerful and politically dominating voting block of white Christian Conservatives are losing strength in the Republican Party. Also, the Tea Party, which now enjoys the fellowship of those who have fled the Christian base because they feel the Republican Party has not delivered on its stand on moral purity, if its followers ever decide to break away to form a third party, this will even more impact the GOP's Christian Conservative voting base.

Interestingly, there is a shift in the trend of the married white Christian voters which also adds to the declining Republican vote. This voting block has proven in the past to be one of the most loyal and reliable voting bases. However, they now make up less than half of all voters nationally and less than one-fifth of voters under the age of 30. The inherent problem lies in the three categories of married voters. According to NES data, from the 1970s to the 21st century, the conservative married white Christian vote increased by 26 points, going from 64 percent to 90 percent, with the moderate married white Christians increasing by only five points, going from 38 percent to 43 percent. It also shows that the liberal married white Christians actually declined by 10 points, falling from 23 percent to 13 percent. This shift further impacts the GOP base.

Then there is the generation gap among young republicans. From my own research and experience in teaching Political Science at the college level, I have been amazed at the number of students whose parents were Republicans, who now identify more with the individual candidate, rather than the party. Also I have seen a shift in fundamental moral values. The younger white Republicans tend not to be as die hard on moral issues as are their parents and those generations before them. With this change, it adds to the instability of the Republican voting legacy that has been handed down from one generation to another.

Another eroding base is the Republican elderly vote. This is a voting block, which tends to remain Republican no matter what. However, once the baby boomers have reached an age where they are no longer are able to vote or as they die out, the Republican Party also will have to find new recruits to replace this very reliable group of voters.

Let me just throw this in as food for thought. Closing the voting gap between those whose income is higher than $100,000, the past presidential election exit poll conducted by CNN showed that it was pretty much split down the middle with 49 to 49 percent of those within this income range voting for both McCain and Obama. This seems to dispel the myth that only the rich votes Republican.

A good voting prospect was seen in the Hispanic vote. President G. W. Bush certainly was able to leverage off of it, as he gained significant support. However, as the subject of immigration becomes more highly charged, this base seemingly is falling apart for Republicans.

All of this leads to the discussion of the need for the Republican Party to rethink the strategy for recapturing the black vote.

Blacks began their exodus from the Republican Party in the 1960s, and since then have become almost a rare breed. This was the beginning of the Southern Strategy, which has allowed the Republican Party to gain its foothold within the southern white voting base. President Nixon's Republican strategist is quoted as saying, "The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats." How prophetic indeed this has proven to be true.

If the Republican Party plans on surviving as a political party, it will have to renew its political base from African American voters who once aligned with the party. It is not enough to have a few of "us" within the Republican Party. This is not the way it was when the GOP was birthed, and neither should it be now. When the GOP realizes this, they also will understand two things:

That Black voters are more aligned with the moral core values than any other group of voters. Most are churched or have had some church within their upbringing. Whether they follow those teachings, they are very quick to say they still believe in those values taught by the church. Make no mistake about it, black folks take very seriously their relationship with God, which goes back to slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, where they witnessed the power of that relationship in being delivered out of the hands of those who held them racially captive. This makes organizations such as the National Republican African American Caucus a perfect conduit through which to galvanize the support of the black preacher, the black church and the black Christian vote. [I will talk more about this in Day 17.]

That Blacks also yearn for economic empowerment. If somehow the GOP can repackage this one core belief and get that message out to especially younger blacks, it would bring in voters by the thousands. A prime example of this is the rising influence of such groups as the HipHop Republicans, led by a politically brilliant young African American man from Harlem, Richard Ivory. In his organization lies the key to attracting young blacks who have a taste for entrepreneurship.

In my own experience in working with young black men on the streets, their desire is to be "in business". Whether it is legitimate business or illegal trade, they consider themselves businessmen. This is an entrepreneur cry that has not yet been heard and a dream not yet made a reality. This is why we have young black men who can successfully sell drugs. Whether we agree with the product or not, this is economic empowerment to them! So what we have to do is encourage a legitimate product or service, and help them to understand that the Republican Party is the political party who believes in their ability to build wealth.

Having said this, it is time for the Republican Party to carefully reconsider its relationship with the pristine soul of the African American voters. ...Because there is one thing that is eminent, the GOP as it is today, certainly will not be the GOP of tomorrow, based upon its present GOP voting base.

But there is one thing which is worth mentioning, regardless of the dwindling numbers, according to a recent April Gallup poll, 57 percent of Republican voters are expressing a higher level of enthusiasm than 37 percent Democrats in the 2010 midterm election. So regardless of the dwindling base, it is the party who gets the voters to the poll that will determine the outcome of the election.

To reach the NRAAC national chair:

Jean Howard-Hill
423-702-5622 NRAAC office

[Dr. Jean Howard-Hill is the author of Black Eyes Shut, White Lips Sealed. She has serves as the national chair for the National Black Republican Women with her late husband, Attorney Bobby Lee Hill serving as the head of the Black Republican Men for Change from 1987 to his death in 1991. After his death up until 1993, she remained head of the organization, and in 1999 combined the two groups to form the National Republican African American Caucus.

She has taught full time and as an adjunct, American Government, State and Local Government, and International Politics and Culture of Nonwestern Countries at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and was voted 2006 Outstanding Professor of the year. Additionally, from 1976 to 1979, she designed and directed the "Democracy In Action" Program, which was a civics program taught in the local school systems. Howard-Hill also is a local political commentator and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law. She also is ordained clergy and heads The Healing Place Ministries International, overseeing 47 ministries throughout Africa.

She also is a TN third district congressional candidate. If elected, she would be the first African American Republican and female to be elected from the third district. Her campaign website can be found at: and;;;;; JHHCongress.]

The National Republican African-American Caucus is an organization that is comprised of Spirit filled people of faith within the African American community, that works in conjunction with local, state and national party efforts to embrace, and offer African-American Republicans opportunities for inclusion and involvement in the Republican Party, and builds bridges between the African-American community and the Republican Party. In doing so, it seeks to carry out the philosophy and mission set before President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas to build a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party, where those guiding principles are more important than politics.

More information on the NRAACcan be found at:; [NRAAC] National Republican African American Caucus Social Issue Network (members only); [NRAAC Blog]; [NRAAC Youth on the Horizons Blog]; [NRAAC New Generation-New Direction Blog]; and [NRAAC National Chair's Blog]. Each State Caucus can be accessed by state. See related links at Also can be found on the RNC group page at

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