Every time a Republican gets into hot water, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has to pull a Florida Evans impression when the “Good Times” character yelled, “Damn! Damn! Damn!”
Anyone with half a brain knows that the GOP has a black problem. And a Latino problem. Not only do they have difficulties in securing their votes, they also can’t escape candidates and office holders saying stupid things.
Just this week, former South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint sounded demented when he went on a radio show to talk about slavery and the role the federal government played.
“Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people,” said DeMint, who now heads the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.
“Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God.”
He continued: “But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong.”
And then the money quote: “So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.”
Poor, Jim. His hatred of big government obscures the reality that Lincoln WAS the commander-in-chief of the FEDERAL government. And that he exercised his power to order Union troops, paid by federal taxpayers, to fight the Confederacy.
How in the world could Jim not think the federal government had a role in ending slavery? The Emancipation Proclamation? A federal document signed by the president. The 13th Amendment? Passed on the federal level and ratified by the states.
Did he skip history and civic classes in South Carolina?
Then there is Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is running for the U.S. Senate to unseat longtime Senator Thad Cochran.
During a radio discussion nearly a decade ago, McDaniel went off about reparations, talked about Latinos and all kind of other crazy stuff.
“If they pass reparations, and my taxes are going up, I ain’t paying taxes,” he said.
Then when discussing Mexico, he said: “Why don’t we all immigrate south, let’s go to Mexico. You know, a dollar bill can buy a mansion in Mexico. And I think we all get together, go down there, build us a studio for like 26 pesos, and, you know, put on a radio show right there in Mexico. Live the rest of our lives there!”
Bottom line: Priebus has been trying to get Republicans to shut down the crazy talk and engage with voters on the issues. But every time a GOP’er makes a nutty comment about women, blacks or Hispanics, it’s guaranteed to get media attention. And then the party has to hit the reset button.
I have a proposition: The GOP should create a toll-free line for any Republican who wants to discuss race. Make it 1-800-ASK-A-BLACK-MAN. I’ll be happy to staff it 24 hours a day.
By doing this, they can save themselves and the party a lot of grief. Yes, these are individual actions and not representative of all Republicans. But when you add one with another and another and another, then there is a party problem.
If Republicans don’t learn that insulting minority voters will not earn them any votes, they can bank on never winning the White House and losing election after election.
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Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.”