The Charlotte post. (Charlotte, N.C.) 1918-????, February 15, 1996, Image 4
®()c Cfjarlottc ^osit Published weekly by the Charlotte Post Publishing Co. 1531 Camden Road Charlotte, N.C. 28203 Gerald O. Johnson Publisher Robert Johnson Co-publisher/ General Manager Herbert L. White Editor Buying elections — buying candidates Is the Republican Party America’s hottest whites-only bastion? Sherman Miller Black History Month is a time to look back at all the key deci sions made during the previous year to try to understand their long-term impact on socioeconomic progress in the black commu nity. One such decision was the first black female (Margaret Rose Henry) to win a seat in the Delaware State Senate switched political parties from Republican to Democrat when white candi dates across the nation are going in the opposite direction. Henry’s decision symbolized the prodigal daughter returning home, but it also showed tunnel vision as to her potential power in legitimizing blacks in the Republican Party. Today, the Republican Party is in the stranglehold of the ultra right conservatives. The Republican U.S. congressional delega tion is enchanted with its so-called “Contract With America” and they are making it crystal clear that the WASP mind-set is now the national norm. Thus, America faces another general election where the black community finds itself with all of its future locked in the hand of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans have a good shot at retaining control of both houses of Congress. Having been active in the Republican Party, it is clear to me that Henry killed the goose laying the golden egg when she aban doned the Republicans. She found her two highly successful elec tions supported by the permanent government (those key individ uals who work behind the scenes controlling activities no matter which political party comes to power). This suggested that she was anointed and she needed only hone her ability at challenging these people to do what is right. There is no doubt in my mind that Henry found her initial actions frustrating because she was trying to change ingrained mind-sets and that takes time and patience. During my Republican Party tenure, I somehow got labeled “a blue collar Republican.” My interest is challenging this party to include the ■wants and needs of poor black folks and their agenda. I was relieved to see ^ Margaret Rose Henry win, for it meant that I did not need to worry about shouldering the respon- siblity of fighting for blacks in the party, for she was a profes sional politi cian. Henry came complete with compas sion and the desire to help , .y. poor black folks. She is also an upwardly mobile black who can commu nicate in the economic mainstream, with everyday black folks and with the black Talented Tenth (often labeled black sell-outs. Uncle Tom, boy toys and so on). I believed Henry could have gone a long way in helping to set the national Republican Party agenda if she merely asserted her self. She needed only to recognize that power is taken and respect is earned. That meant she had a long exhaustive struggle ahead of her to change the political octoroon caricature symbolism of black Republicans. Since Henry left, a huge vacuum now exists in the Republican Party in Delaware. Thus I am coming out of retirement until the general election is over to work in the Republican Party to once again challenge them to include the wants and needs of poor folks in their agenda. I see only two of the current Republican presidential candidates as viable for the presidential election. They are Sen. Bob Dole and Steve Forbes. Dole is a professional politician who will make the necessary deals to get things going. Forbes is a breath of fresh air and offers understandable solutions to problems that grab the . attention of the average American. Phil Gramm scares my pants off because he paints himself as inflexible. Pat Buchanan believes he is a clone of former president Ronald Reagan, but I see him as a member of an ultra-right anti minority group hoping to set race relations back 100 years. Lamar Alexander and Richard Lugar come across as decent men who have yet to find a national following. I was one in a roomful of black Democratic sympathizers in Baltimore that suggested that Alan Keyes is nothing more than a “boy toy,” and I believe they are right. Thus, I urge Republicans to nominate either Dole or Forbes. That offers the potential for us to expand the party to include all peoples versus continuing our symbolism as the “Whites Only” party. Can the Republican Party win the presidency being tainted a “Whites Only” bastion? Columnist SHERMAN MILLER lives in Wilmington, Del, Can you be bought? That is not a very nice way to ask my question. But it is the question that Steve Forbes’ campaign for presi dent raises. Maybe it is better asked like this: Are our votes for sale? Our answer is, of course, “No!” We don’t sell our votes to anybody. But Steve Forbes is a con tender for the Republican presidential nomination because he has money to spend. Meanwhile, thousands of other people, like you and me, who also have good ideas and fresh faces, are reading this column instead of making TV ads that pound home our version of the future. Your vote isn’t for sale, you insist. You might even say, as Forbes does, that it is not his money that has opened the door. Rather, it is the power of his ideas and the lack of confi dence in other candidates that give him a chance with you. OK Your vote is not for sale. But money opened the door for Forbes to present his ideas to you. If it were not for his money, the flat tax wouldn’t be a big issue today. And the lack of money excludes other people and other ideas. A TV advertisement, careful ly crafted and un-rebutted, can move our collective minds. Our votes may not be for sale, but the gate to our deci sion making process is. Candidates who have access to TV have access to us. Those who can’t get on 'TV can’t get to us. So, are rich candidates the problem with our political process? The Steve Forbeses and Ross Perots? No. I don’t think so. A candidate who can pay his own way onto the political playing field may bring enthusiasm, new ideas. and new people into the process. 'Tfiat is all for the good. Forbes is not the problem. But his campaign clearly points out the problem. The importance of money to an effective political campaign — as shown by Forbes’ effort — reminds us starkly how important money is to the other candidates. Money, not new ideas and people, is the lifeblood of a major political campaign. It is true whether the candidate spends his own money — like Forbes, or has to raise it — like Dole, Gramm, Clinton, and the oth ers. One of the reasons that some of the other candidates’ ideas and people seem so uninspir ing and ordinary is that those campaigns have been focused on fund raising. Securing the essential resource for their campaign effort has to be the first priority — unless you are Steve Forbes. Everything else is secondary. Candidates and their cam paigns have to be out selling their campaign to the big givers, the interest groups, the PACs. These folks want some piece of the candidate. And they are buying. Of course, no candidate will admit selling anything. Like you and me, they will insist that they are not for sale. But all that money is buying some thing. Ask those who are giv ing the big bucks to candi dates what they are buying. They will tell you, finally, that they are buying access. Access to their candidates when they become officeholders. Access. The open door. The chance to make a case. A sym pathetic hearing. It is nothing — and everything. We are not selling our votes to the candi dates. And they are not selling theirs to the big contributors. We are just selling access — you and me and the candi dates. Meanwhile, those who don’t have money have a hard time finding an open door. Until somebody figures out a way to replace money as the life blood of politics, that is the way it is going to be. D. G. MARTIN is vice presi dent for public affairs for the University of North Carolina system. You can communicate with him by calling (919) 962- 7096 or e-mailing dgmartin@ga. unc. edu. Developing black political and intellectual leadership Manning Marahle Black Americans throughout their history have always been challenged by the harsh and often brutal reality of institutional racism. As a system of unequal power, political racism led to the disfranchisement of African Americans after the Reconstruction era's brief experiment in democracy. Within America's cultural institutions, the representa tions of blackness were fre quently racial stereotypes and crude distortions. And within the economy, generations of African Americans found themselves excluded from the best jobs, the last hired and the first fired. This structure of raciql domination and unequal power created the context and necessity for the development of black political and intellectual leadership. There have been three basic models of leadership which have informed the develop ment of political struggles for black liberation within US society during the past centu ry. The first strategy to emerge after the Civil War and the demise of radical Reconstruction can be termed "accommodation." With the codification and social consoli dation of Jim Crow segrega tion in the 1890s, with the rise of lynchings and the political disfranchisement of blacks throughout the South, the possibilities for advancing civil rights became extremely limited. It was this repressive context which produced con servative black educator and political leader Booker T. Washington. Washington puh- licly counseled blacks to accept disfranchisement and segregation, and to establish coalitions with conservative white elites in business and the Republican Party. Accommodationist politics favored "black capitalism," the establishment of black-owned businesses which produced goods and services solely for the African American commu nity, and opposed coalitions with labor unions and poor whites. Instead of relying on the government to provide resources or to guarantee civil rights, blacks were urged to "help themselves." Washington's political orga nization, the "Tuskegee Machine," used its influence with Republican administra tions to appoint some middle class blacks into the federal bureaucracy. Washington mobilized black public opinion for his conservative policies through his control of major African American newspapers. In the rapidly-growing black urban ghettoes of the North, accommodationist politics was reflected in the increased cooperation of black middle class elites with conservative white bosses and political machines, which were fre quently aligned with the Democratic Party. Although Washington died in 1915, his basic approach to the achievement of black empowerment had a profound impact upon the political cul ture of black America. In the 1960s, black capitalism, self segregation, and coalition building with white Republicans was central to the "Black Power" programs of Floyd McKissick, Roy Innis, and many other conservative black nationalists. (Indeed, it is largely forgotten that the only presidential candidate in 1968 who openly endorsed "Black Power" was Richard M. Nixon). Today, Booker T. Washington's tradition of accommodation is expressed in part by black conservative intellectuals such as Shelby Steele, Glen Loury, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and by black apologists for reac tionary policies and Reaganite economics like Tony Brown. To some extent, even Louis Farrakhan's program of self- help, social conservatism and separatism has more in com mon with Booker T. Washington than with Malcolm X. Unlike Malcolm, neither Washington nor Farrakhan actually put for ward a strategy that directly challenges white capitalism or institutional racism. These "new accommodation- ists" are "racially" black, but their politics does little to advance black people's inter ests. We can not achieve real power through the illusion of "black capitalism" and self- help alone. MANNING MARABLE is Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia University, New York City.