Op-EdOpinion

JACKSON: Republicans Have Eyes and Ears But Cannot See or Hear

In the Bible, Job 3:25 states, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

How appropriate after last week’s Republican loss in the Louisiana gubernatorial race.

Republicans have lost two of the three governor’s races this year; Mississippi being the only race that we won. The other governor’s race we lost was in Kentucky.

In Kentucky, the incumbent Republican lost to a Democrat; in Mississippi, the incumbent Republican governor will be succeeded with another Republican; and the Louisiana incumbent Democrat beat a Republican.

So, Republicans had a net loss of one seat — meaning that in January, Republicans will control 26 statehouses and Democrats will control 24.

Needless to say, my party is heading in the wrong direction!

In last week’s column, I wrote about the precipitous decline of the Republican Party of Virginia. Similarly, I predicted we would lose the Louisiana governor’s race because the Republican candidate made a conscious decision to write off the Black community.

Blacks are 32% of the state’s population and 31% of the voting-age population. Republicans begin their campaigns by writing off nearly a third of the state’s voters or 450, 243 potential voters; therefore, they need to get a significant percentage of the white vote just to be competitive; and there are not enough of them to secure victory.

Before the election, I talked with friends of mine in Louisiana who are political operatives in both parties. The one common theme I heard throughout the state, from both sides, was that early voting turnout among Blacks was at historic levels.

Blacks accounted for 31% of the early voting last week for the runoff versus 25% during the primary voting, a 6-point increase. This means there were approximately 30,000 additional votes cast by Blacks for the Democrats. The Republican candidate lost by only 40,341 votes. You do the math.

The Republican candidate only got 7% of the Black vote in last week’s election. Just think if our candidate would have spent time and money to get somewhere between 10-15% of the Black vote; he would be governor right now.

Because our Republican candidate had no Black operatives around him, they were totally unprepared and unqualified to respond to the Democrats race-baiting radio spots that ran on Black radio.

One Black group ran a series of ads comparing the Republican candidate to notorious racist and KKK member David Duke.

The ad stated, “What is the difference between David Duke, Eddie Rispone (the Republican candidate), and Donald Trump? The only difference is that Rispone will be governor if you don’t stop him.”

Any Black operative worth his salt would have been prepared for this tried and true Democrat trick and would have prepared the candidate to anticipate this.

Democrats have no positive policy proposals for the Black community, so they always revert to the only thing they know — playing the race card!

Trump carried Louisiana by 20 points in 2016 and all the statewide offices are controlled by Republicans other than governor; there is only one Democrat in Louisiana’s congressional delegation.

There is absolutely no reason why a Republican can’t get double-digit support from the Black community. Sooner or later they will have to face the fact that whites are increasingly becoming a smaller percentage of the electorate; therefore, Republicans must be able to cobble together a coalition from various ethnic groups to remain a viable party.

Like Job in the Bible, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

This continued Republican strategy of focusing only on white turnout is the thing I am most fearful of, and election after election they make my fears a reality.

My readers know that I have written frequently on the need for Republicans to cultivate substantive relationships with the Black community.

I am reminded of the fifth chapter of Daniel in the Bible. King Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, threw an elaborate party for himself and out of nowhere mysterious handwriting appeared on the wall. The king brought in all of his wise men to interpret the handwriting, but they couldn’t do it.

His wife knew about Daniel, who was a Godly man; she summoned him and he interpreted the writing and basically told the king that he would be overthrown from his kingdom. He was overthrown that very night.

Being Black in this Republican Party makes me feel a lot like Daniel. I have seen the handwriting on the wall for years when it comes to the party engaging with the Black community.

I talk to any and everyone in the party who will listen to me about the value of engaging with the Black community, the handwriting is on the wall. But, like Belshazzar, maybe we need to suffer a few more loses to see the light.

I pray that God will open the eyes and ears of this party and let those with eyes to see and ears to hear to see and hear the handwriting on the wall!

Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party.

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