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At a recent interview on CNN, Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain claimed that African American voters have been brainwashed into not being open minded about voting for the GOP. Yet during this same interview, Cain said that one third to half of Black voters are open minded and he believes there is hope for African Americans to turn to the conservative side. Like most Republicans, he offered no facts to support his conclusions except “people he meets in the airports. Here are a few facts that apparently Herman Cain is not familiar with.
After the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century, most African Americans voted Republican. That’s not surprising when considering the fact that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican President who freed the slaves and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome African Americans then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that African Americans were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions. Most African Americans lived in the South where many were prevented from voting at all. The election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change and Roosevelt got 71 percent of the African American vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of African Americans identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.
It wasn’t until Harry Truman captured 77 percent of the African American vote in 1948 that a majority of African Americans considered themselves as Democrats. Truman had issued an executive order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in Federal employment. Even after that, Republican nominees continued to get a significant portion of the African American vote for several elections. Eisenhower got 39 percent of the vote in 1956, and Nixon got 32 percent in his narrow loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960. President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 that outlawed segregation in public places and his Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson received 94 percent of the African American vote that year, a record for any presidential election. The following year Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act and no Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the African American vote since then. Even though younger African American voters have been edging away from the Democratic Party, 90% of African Americans are registered Democrats.
In an article by Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu, he notes that African Americans, especially seniors, are still one of the most conservative groups of people in America. They are God fearing and church going, they are against abortion and homosexuality, they tend to stick to their traditional ways even if it was a method to survive adversity, they still stick to their traditional foods even if they are considered unhealthy, and they still believe in family even though the man may not be present. I agree with Aimiuwu.
On the other hand, the Republican Party claims to be conservative because they stand for family, God, morality, do not support gay or abortion rights, and believe in tradition and heritage. The difference between their conservatism and African American conservatism is that they have power, wealth, influence, and they do not want any system to change their advantage. African Americans lack many of these things and the only advantage they seem to have is civil rights and affirmative action. The conservatism of the Republicans is to maintain their culture, way of life, and most importantly to maintain their economic and political status. African American conservatism is more religious than cultural. They feel that is what the Bible says and so be it.
Many African Americans already know God, they already know morality, they reject abortion and homosexuality, they are conservatives, but they are in search of economic and political relevance, according to Mr. Aimiuwu. As long as the Republicans are in power and are interested in keeping things the way they are African Americans will never achieve economic and political relevance. Despite the fact that the Democrats may be a little too liberal on some issues, many African Americans perceive them as the vehicle to attaining true freedom, equality, and opportunity. The conservatism of the Republicans helps make laws and creates systems that hinder African American progress, while the liberalism of Democrats promotes acceptance and tolerance for various groups to excel.
If the Republican Party can find a way to make laws and systems that encourage African American political and economic relevance, many will probably cross over to the Republican Party. African Americans will always vote for God, morality, and tradition as long as they do not have to worry about equality and survival. This could be the reason why some African Americans become Republicans when money and influence are no longer an issue
African Americans have not been brain-washed as claimed by Cain, but a conservative people that continue to find more relevance within the Democratic Party. They have been the Democrats’ most reliable voting bloc since Truman and with Barack Obama in the White House, that’s not going to change, but that’s just my take.
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