As I continue my swing through Eastern Europe, I had every intention of writing about my conversations with the all the political and business leaders that I was spending time with. I wanted to write about how the U.S. is viewed by those in Eastern Europe and the relevance of this part of the world to the U.S.
But, I have received so many phone calls and e-mails asking me about the continued firings of the few Black staffers at the Republican National Committee (RNC) that I have decided to share my thoughts on this issue and deal with Eastern Europe at a later time.
First of all, these staffers deserved to be fired and it should have happened a long time ago. They were in way over their heads and their level of arrogance was just astonishing.
But in fairness to them, they were set up for failure by the party from the very beginning. Many in the party felt the need to hire Blacks, not because they really wanted to diversify the party, but in some of the party’s thinking, they can’t be called “racist” because they hired a few Blacks. I am not joking. This really is the thinking of many in the party.
Let me be perfectly clear: you can’t have engagement with the Black community without the active participation of our congressional leadership.
The RNC is not, let me repeat, is not a policy making body in regards to legislation. But it is political malpractice to claim to want more Blacks in our party without equipping staff to go into the Black community with specific pieces of legislation that deal with issues relevant to our community.
You can’t go into the Black community and not address the issue of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Supreme Court told Congress that they needed to update the formula used to determine how section 5 is enforced.
Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress since the court’s decision, but have done absolutely nothing to address this issue. Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Jim Sensenbrenner has tried to work on a bipartisan solution to this issue and the house leadership has refused to let his proposed legislation come to the floor.
The Black unemployment rate is still teetering near 10 percent and yet the Republican controlled congress has made no targeted policy proposals that would address this issue. Some in leadership have made stupid statements like, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Message to leadership: everyone does not have a boat. Therefore, a rising tide would drown them.
These fired staffers had absolutely no engagement with our congressional leaders, rank and file members, or their staffers. So, to this extent they were set up for failure.
So, you have staffers going into the Black community with no specific solutions to the problems that are important to them—voting rights, access to capital, education reform, etc. Blacks are being told that the Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party of lower taxes, the party of more individual freedom—yada, yada, yada.
This is where the rising tide theory becomes insulting to Blacks. Don’t tell me that your solutions for other people’s problems will “trickle down” to me and my community as a byproduct of your legislative priorities.
They go into the Hispanic community offering amnesty; they go into the homosexual community offering protective class status; but they come to the Black community with trickle down legislation.
The other issue is the party has no understanding of political optics when it comes to the Black community. You have no Blacks on radio, TV, or in newspapers that represent the Republican Party, be they staffers or surrogates.
Typically, Republicans are only interested in hiring folks they are comfortable with, not Blacks who know what the hell they are doing. They hire Blacks who are afraid to go up against groups like the NAACP or the National Urban League. They feel like, “they [the RNC] need them [Black groups] more than they need us.” This is a direct quote by a staffer to me.
You have people inside the RNC who actually think they know more about the Black community than Blacks. I am speaking from personal experience.
The party needs to hire Blacks like Allegra McCullough, Shannon Reeves, or Jennifer Carroll to have total control over engagement with the Black community. Then empower them to hire millennials to work under their leadership.
These three people are adults who cannot be bullied by RNC staff into being timid and subservient; they have relationships with the Black business community throughout the country; and they have personal relationships with various members of congress and know how to get them to move on specific legislation relevant to the Black community.
So, you can hire all the Blacks that you want, but if the hiring is not paired with specific policy initiatives, the party will once again show that they are not serious about engagement with the Black community.
[Raynard 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. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org.]