Harry Alford

By Harry C. Alford
NNPA Columnist

Most pundits predicted gains for the Republican Party in the 2014 midterm elections but no one had an idea that they would win by such an overwhelming margin in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The Democratic Party had the worse whipping since 1922.  Let’s assess the damage.

Republicans stretched their majority in the House and added two more Blacks to their rolls.  Mia Love, a Black Mormon in Utah, and Will Hurd a Black Jew in Texas, will take their oaths in January. Senator Tim Scott won his first full term by a gigantic margin.  He even had more votes than his compatriot Republican Senator, Lindsay Graham.  How did this happen?  Well, he got the same conservative White votes as Senator Graham as well as Black Democrats who crossed over to vote for this talented, level headed leader.  This has the Black liberals of South Carolina livid.  The Democratic Party fears this up-and-coming political star.  The GOP was hoping for at least 51 seats in the Senate.  At last count, they have 58.

President Obama will have a rocky time trying to move his agenda and pass significant legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) will demand negotiation and consensus. He is not like his predecessor, Harry Reid, who killed every piece of House legislation favored by the GOP.  As they say, “Elections have consequences.”  Executive orders from the president and rule changes from his administration will have a hard time standing because it is the proper role of Congress to pass laws or approved administrative actions.

Another sea change of this election is what happened at the state level. For example, 43 of the 50 state legislatures (state representatives and senators) are now Republican held. It is amongst these ranks that new season of candidates will rise to the federal congressional positions.  If these states resist federal rules such as the state registry program of the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, it will go to the Supreme Court for a final decision. History shows that the states will win this dispute. The same will occur for the new rules on the Clean Air Act.

The DNC is going to have to learn to adjust to the new power curve. Things will be different now and they will have to come to agreement with the other party members. The strength of the presidency has been greatly weakened.  He had both Houses when he became president and took a cocky stance on everything.  It has cost him dearly.

The GOP plans to keep this new power for a long time.  It is very important to them to improve their base.  More diversity, especially with Blacks, will be paramount. The timing is great as Blacks have fallen backwards under the Obama administrations.  In fact, we have had a 2 percent increase in poverty. There are more of us in jails and no improvements have been made in education and middle class entry. Many lost hope and decided not to go to the polls this time.  The current assumption by many of them that nothing is going to change caused the lowest voting turnout in many decades.  Democratic Blacks are starting to consider crossing over like we did with Senator Tim Scott this year.

Civil rights groups like the NAACP and individuals like “Screaming Al Sharpton” will be losing their persuasive “mojo.”  The lines for opportunity on the Republican side will be much shorter.  A sharp political aspirant will find minimal waiting time to prove his/her skills and worth to the party. They will be given much attention and encouragement. Like Dr. Ben Carson, Mia Love and Will Hurd. , good talent will be recognized and supported by the GOP establishment.  They know they have done a poor job in diversity and it is now a top priority for them. This is their moment and any hesitancy could quickly slow their progress or even stop it.

Another significant happening is the quality of potential GOP presidential candidates for 2016.  The DNC has no one who is new and/or fresh for consideration of leading their 2016 slate.  Proven executives are found at the Governor level.  The GOP has Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Mike Pence (Indiana), Tom Kasich (Ohio), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana) and Rick Snyder (Michigan).  These are strong and successful executive leaders with a recognition of the need for diversity. Possible running mates include Dr. Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Condoleezza Rice and Senator Tim Scott.

The last six years have been ugly and divisive.  America, we can do much, much better.  Let’s recruit leaders who unite and set the example for a great America representative of all ethnicities while not compromising on talent and accountability.  In 2016, I would like to see balanced diversity on both sides of the political spectrum.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Website: www.nationalbcc.org  Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.


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