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Colin Powell on the Obvious: The GOP is Polluted with Racists

I often wonder whether black Republicans, and gay Republicans (and of course black, gay Republicans and any other combination of color/ethnicity) have the patience of saints or are just deluded that reform of the party — tossing the bigoted and bible beater Base overboard — is just around the corner.

Sometimes you’ll get a bit of reveal of the frustration with the obvious. Colin Powell went on Meet the Press this week and took his party to task for not only harboring racist bigots, but doing nothing to rein in the well-known ones who blow the “dog whistle” or worse. (Think Progress):

Without mentioning names, Powell singled out former Mitt Romney surrogate and New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for calling Obama “lazy” and Sarah Palin, who, Powell charged, used slavery-era terms to describe Obama:

POWELL: There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that that they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that?

When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?

My emphasis on that last sentence — come on, is he being cheeky asking that question aloud when the answer is obvious? They have gnawed on the bone for decades on the Southern Strategy, appealing to the most base instincts of a voter demographic that 1) hasn’t gotten over the Civil War, 2) has socially self-segregated themselves “for protection” of what they see as “the American way” being overrun by black, brown, yellow and “mongrel” populations, uppity women, and gays, and 3) is maintaining its low-information status on a diet of Faux News and Rush, and paranoia that the President is coming for their guns.

Of course the GOP got a wake up call that all of those populations that its Base fears actually are growing and vote. So now it’s stuck, knowing time isn’t on its side with the browning of America, and with precious little to offer to attract new voters. In fact it’s losing the might middle with the #FAIL of a campaign by Team Romney, an effort that ran so far to the right during the primary, and was so transparently exposed as cultivating the 1%, that it left those Republican leaders trashing Mittens less than 24 hours after he lost.

Even with all of this, Colin Powell probably thinks his statement will have some impact on the current GOP leadership. I doubt it. They are still trying desperately to work out a political formula that allows them to hold onto their race-aroused base AND attract Latino voters. Good luck with that.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding