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J.C. Watts is right — and wrong

J.C. Watts is a former congressman from Oklahoma (1995 to 2002), and the GOP poster boy for black Republicans, a lonely existence. He recently wrote a column on the clear problem the GOP has in attracting black voters — basically saying the party is failing to appeal to that group when it has every reason to court them because of the general social conservatism in the religious black community.

He harps on marriage and abortion in particular as issues that could create a solid bond with blacks. He’s right that this group could be appealed to, but the fact is the GOP has f*cked up this opportunity over and over because of its own institutionalized racism and disdain for the black poor (see Katrina).

But Watts is right on one front — the sheer volume of the black homobigots you see here on the Blend shows you that even with that huge deficit, it’s possible to unite that demographic over topics like same-sex marriage if the GOP ever gets its act together. There’s fertile ground. (Pahrump Valley Times):

Protecting marriage isn’t simply expeditious politics in an election year. I wish it were. Simply, this is good public policy.

I acknowledge that we must always be careful in how we allow government to intervene in the lives of adults. But Congress does have a responsibility to determine what is sanctioned as opposed to allowing an appointed judge who has no accountability to the people to unilaterally determine cultural mores. Should four or five judges in Massachusetts be able to set the tone for the entire nation? Should they define marriage? This issue must be removed from the authority of the courts, and put back in the hands of the people. The people have voted overwhelmingly to protect marriage in more than 20 states. There are activists working in those states who are already working to overturn those votes.

The president’s detractors say he was just appealing to his political base when he endorsed the marriage amendment. The fact is this issue also appeals to a group not normally affiliated with a Republican president… the black community.

The black community is overwhelmingly pro-marriage and pro-life. Blacks have stood with Republicans on marriage and life issues for years. At a recent event in support of this constitutional amendment, many black ministers stood behind the president in support of him as did conservative white leaders. The challenge facing Republicans – a challenge they have yet to meet — is to appeal to the minority community not only on social issues, but on opportunity issues. I’ve been talking to my Republican friends about this since my first political speech at the 1990 Oklahoma GOP convention.

Conservatives would have more credibility with the black community on important social issues, such as marriage, if they would make a stronger effort to include blacks and other minorities in economic opportunities.

Black farmers have been discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture for generations, and contract opportunities for minorities in the aerospace, defense, transportation and energy industries are sadly lacking. Minorities have been shut out of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that called for diversity in programming on cable networks (in the last 10 years, six minority networks have failed because they couldn’t get carriage), and there is little opportunity for procurement with telecom companies.

If the Grand Old Party will reach out to minorities and engage itself in creating real opportunity to prosper, as well as the social issues on which they are kindred, my party will be the majority for generations to come.

Yeah, but don’t hold your breath, J.C. Your party will not come around to embrace blacks on the opportunity front.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding