October 13th, 2008
12:28 PM ET

Lessons Republicans should have learned twenty years ago

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/13/art.vert.lennymcallister.jpg width=292 height=320]
Editor's Note: Lenny McAllister shares his insight on the political issues at lennymcallister.com and is member of the North Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee .

Lenny McAllister | BIO

The coldness that Governor Sarah Palin and Senator John McCain have exhibited to Senator Barack Obama during the debates and rallies has cooled my enthusiasm for the McCain-Palin ticket.

Some of it is just indefensible.

I have been a Republican for five years after being a conservative Democrat my whole life. I still support Senator McCain for president. But now, I support his policies more than I support him as a candidate.

It is hard to strongly support a candidate who ignores the scars of race relations. Calling Senator Obama "...that one..." during a presidential debate; Governor Palin not directly addressing some of the hateful chants made by supporters at her recent campaign speeches: taken together, these actions come across as bigoted, even if that was not the intent.

Ignorance to racial sensitivity may not make one a racist, but it does make one vulnerable to the racial realities that we live with today. These are lessons the Republicans should not need to learn now -. they should have learned them twenty years ago. The late Senator Jesse Helms' 1990 senatorial ad about "quotas" showed that racial sensitivities were enough to turn a close election. Fast forward to 2008 and the rhetoric discussing "palling around with terrorists" to paint a particular image of Senator Obama. It's a fair question to ask: how much have things changed?

Elections are about policies and positions, not just people as candidates. I support the policies of McCain- not those of Obama. With the right leadership, I feel that they will be more successful in turning around this economic ship. Bush grew government and so will Obama. McCain wants to freeze spending, a necessary step to stop the bleeding. McCain's foreign policy experience and approach will align more with Reagan's than Bush's or Obama's. It's hard to go against a philosophy that led to victory in the Cold War.

But every time I feel a sense of oneness with the GOP, there is some incident that shows that my party is not quite there yet when it comes to improving our diversity IQ.

As an African-American, I have been called an “Uncle Tom” by not being part of the party that overwhelming supports Senator Barack Obama – even as I actively work to improve the lives of Black people everywhere.

But I stay committed to the Republican Party – I feel an obligation to past civil rights leaders to promote political diversity within Black America. That diversity promotes full and balanced inclusion into the American political landscape that, in turn, strengthens America in general and Black America in particular. It is going to take folks going through some personal attacks to break down barriers in the political and social arenas on the path to equality.

People like Martin Luther King, Jr. died for me to be equal in America. I can take some name-calling to ensure that this equality extends to Black America's political strength. It would be a lot easier, though, if my party understood the racial realities of 2008

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Lessons BOTH Parties should have learned over 232 years
    1. If this Nation wants GODs BLESSINGS they need to LISTEN & OBEY what he said- GOD does NOT change- Sin is Sin & God has ZERO tolerence for it. His will is that people repent & not perish but if they refuse to repent Judgement falls when the cup of iniquity is full.
    God Brought this Nation into existance & He can & will take it out.
    You cannot Live in Sin & expect God's Blessing- If God says something is wrong or Evil it is Wrong & evil No Matter if 6,000,000,000 People say its Ok- I give America no more than 10 years or less at the rate we are going.
    2. It Doesn't matter if your Democrat, Republican or Independent
    You are ellected & Paid to do a JOB- You don't do your Job- Your FIRED & we the people will put someone in who will ACT More & TALK
    3.You Shall know a tree by its fruit- Simple Princable You want apples you do not plant Fir trees -You want Corn You dont plant tumble weed.
    This Nation wants God Removed & His Princaples Then God will leave & when trouble comes Just as We refused to Hear Him He will refuse to hear us. If this Nation refuses to learn the lessons of its own History It will not last much longer.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  2. Emma

    Carol, members of a minority group, who support any conservative leader are selfish. They first think about how much taxes they are going to pay.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  3. Laura

    You should never have to be scared to promote your own ideas or viewpoints. But like others have commented here, I cannot understand how anyone could support someone who is so eratic and contrary to even themselves.

    October 13, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  4. SM

    Oh come on!! Why is the race card being played like it's a poker game? "That One" has absolutely nothing to do with race. Grasping at straws, are we??

    October 13, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  5. jacqueline burke

    Given the present atmosphere of hate I fully understand why some would be affraid of being a Barrack supporter and proclaiming their support for mccain.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:31 pm |
  6. lawrence burke

    Really Now; try the reverse Bradley effect on for size! Don't you believe that there are many who find themselves supporting Mccain publicly now that are r e a l l y going to vote foe Obama in the booth?

    October 13, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    Some of the comments have addressed the historical support African Americans have given one party or another. Starting with the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves in enemy states, most African Americans supported for many many years the Republican party – whether they could vote or not – because President Lincoln who they credited with setting them free was a Republican (the first Republican president from the GOP as we know it today). It was only when FDR and the New Deal entered the political arena that African Americans switched their allegiance to the Democratic party. Since that time they have stayed Democratic for the most part – it will be interesting to see in this election and elections to come if that alliance is maintained.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 13, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  8. Carol B., Virginia

    I meant to say you're right about the election contention, Lenny!

    October 13, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  9. Carol B., Virginia

    ~Politics aside, your right Lenny. They shouldn't be stoking the flames of hatred. The country is so polarized and what goes around comes around so just stick to the issues. Also, it would be nice if people using the same first name as others on the blog would use their last initial too. That way, there's no *deception.* Someone was bothering Don L. on the CNN blog today. Grow up children.

    October 13, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  10. Billy

    Keep up hope. That more people will see the light you do and realize the teaching a person to fish is better than handing him a fish.

    October 13, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  11. Jantzen Hubbard

    Though I find Mr. McAllister's analysis of innate Republican bigotry
    spot on, I find his obligatory politlcal alignment a bit bizarre. Which is it, he will support McCain because he endorses his policies, or he will support McCain because he feels obligated to be a Republican for the sake of the diversification of Black America? If the latter is the true reason, then I find him to be a fraud. Political alignment should be rooted in one's core values, in hopes the nation embarks to the future as in line as possible with one's own personal moral compass as possible.

    October 13, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  12. RJ

    It saddens me to see educated Black people sense the reality of today's climate, but still hold to false ideology. The message can completely change depending on who carries the message. Gov. Palin was John Mccain's first post primary decision and he chose someone who's foreign policy experience is in some places in Alaska, you can see Russia! Bush #1 called Reagan's economic policy Voodo economics, today's Wall Street collapse can be layed right at his door step. Nothing has trickled down, but debt and increasing switching of taxes upon the middle class. Yes, Lenny they started a cultrual war upon the sleeping false ideology accepting middle class. Dr. King coined it correctly, if you will not stand up for everyone, you will fall for everything !

    October 13, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  13. chengwen chen, quartzsite, az

    I don't see how you can support a 2-trillion dollars war effort and not support a 65 billion's health care plan. John McCain is not even a real conversative. Lately, he bahaves very erratic. He is acting more like a big spending democrates than a conversative republican. He is not sticking to his own principle. He voted for a 150 billions porks, which he dispised. What John McCain need is some cojones.

    1.6 million bankruptcies in U.S. were caused by health related problems. Many of these had good insurances, just not good enough. Let us take care of our own people first.

    Vote for Obama

    October 13, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  14. Vicki

    I would like to thank you for at least speaking out about the lack of leadership shown by the McCain/Palin ticket at these rallies. It sickens me to hear other African American Republicans that try to condone this type of inciteful behavior. And then try to turn the tables by bringing up Obama's association to Ayers. I find their 'guilt by association' with this Republican party to be far more reprehensible. As for me, also a conservative African American Democrat, I could never belong to a party that openly shows its disdain for me – as if I were invisible. I will always be African American. I am committed to that first and foremost.

    October 13, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  15. Lucy

    You are suprised at the lack of racial sensitivity in the Republican party and their lack of understanding history? Do you realized that after the Civil War freed blacks were promised 40 acres and a mule by the Republicans (which they are still waiting for) and blacklisted "communists" in Hollywood in the 1950 was done by the Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Republicans succeed when they find a scapegoat to point to for all the problems and refuse to discuss issues. Are you just now realizing that "That One" is voice of the Republican Platform of elitism and only token offers for the gullible majority.
    The nobel prize winner in economics, Krugman, calls the GOP the "party of stupid" in the CNN Money article today. Who would elect the party that had control of Congress and the Presidency for the last eight years? Could America be a glutton for punishment, a masochist...because even if by some miracle the Republicans policies weren't at fault, they were definitely asleep at the wheel? We just can't afford the Republicans anymore.
    The Republicans sold us out with their trickle down economy and deregulation of businesses. The middle class grows poorer and poorer. The middle class now believes that the Republican Trickle Down Economy works in only one direction, money back to the well off and corporations. AIG's example of spending $400,000 on 100 salesman for a one week stay at swank hotel (also another Corporation) after they begged for a bailout to save the company shows you the true Corporate mission statement.

    October 13, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  16. Sandy, Arkansas

    We have come a long way since the death of Dr. King. I think he would be proud of the differences we see in our country today. I also think that he would tell people that the scars will never heal as long as people are looking back instead of looking forward. He would not want anyone to get special consideration because of their race...whether black or white. He would tell us to love one another and to do as the Bible tells us...forgive. We can't change the past and dwelling on the injustices will not erase them. Scars cannot be eliminated, but if we act in a way that we do not distinguish between people regardless of race, religion, culture, etc. we can prevent new scars. Everytime the whining about people not being sensitive to the race issue comes up I think that whining never solved anything...positive reactions will. We hear very little about the positives of a black person or a woman being on our political tickets...unless it is touting the prejudices involved. It is time for those prejudices to quit being talked about and for us to strive for equality with our heads high and without bitterness or whining. Let the scars heal...don't rub salt into the wounds by trying to make something of everything that is said or done.

    October 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  17. solange

    You are just telling us how "indecided "you are, since you only agree with the policy of J. McCain and not the man he is.
    I think you are completly right when you are writing about Ignorance of racial sensitivity...
    Yet, we can not blame white people all day long!
    Our biggest problems us africans all over the world is that we don't like people who think differently from us.
    That's why we are not united and still vulnerable every time and that is the main message we sending them.
    So lets be positive, strong as usual and the best we can be!

    October 13, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  18. MPalalay, California

    If you truly believe in racial equality and pluralism, then what are you doing supporting the Republican cause? Don't you know that two very important civil rights laws of the '60s were brought forth and ratified by Democrats?

    "Communication is 99% verbal and only 1% non-verbal." There is something about McCain's public and verbal demeanors that do not seem to match and even do contradict his private persona.

    One that really stands out to me, would be his approval of all those very negative, vile personal and profesional ad attacks againts his opponent while publicly disclaiming and discouraging them. It seems that as the polls show him trailing, the more his campaign ads and statements appear more destructive and yes, desperate.

    The McCain-Palin Republican ticket is a trick not a treat, man–especially designed for people like you! No way can you separate the man from his policies. Like it or not, they are one and the same.

    Read "Hansel and Gretel" again. Better yet, brush up on some psychology, history, sociology, and communication studies. Only then can you really and truly know where you stand instead of acting like Humpty Dumpty. And we all know what happened to him/it.

    October 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  19. Celia McKoy

    People keep saying that Blacks will vote overwhelmingly for Barack Obama becuase of his colour. That is not the whole truth. The Democratic party has ALWAYS had the overwhelming support of Black Americans. That the party now has a Black candidate hardly seems a reason for that situation to change. The voters are just more happy about their choice. They deserve to be, after supporting White candidates for so many generations.

    October 13, 2008 at 1:35 pm |
  20. Carol

    Forgive me if this is a stupid or insulting question, but I have always wondered...

    How can people, who are members of a minority group, support McCain/Palin? Did they watch the convention? It was a stadium filled with white people. That is not a cross-section of America. Do they listen to the rallies? McCain/Palin are not including minorities in their vision of America. How about the McCain supporters? Does the author of this article think that if he showed up at one of the rallies he would be welcome there, or considered one of the crowd? I don't think so. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.

    I am a white woman in an interracial marriage with two bi-racial children, and the McCain/Palin ticket scares the crap out of me. I support a candidate that includes ALL Americans.

    October 13, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  21. Cindy

    No matter what people say McCain and Palin can not control what people say at their rallies. They can stop and say what was said was wrong but that still does not mean that in the next stop there will be no more of those things shouted out. Are they supposed to constantly stop and berate people that say this crap and never get their points across as to why they are even running for office?

    Like it or not race is an issue in this election. I for one don't think that it should be but you can't change the history of our nation in one election. Some people will never change their minds and will always look at things in a racist mindset. That won't be changed by McCain or Palin berating them. And they will vote and have the right too and not one word can be said to stop them.

    But racism is on both sides here...don't just blame McCain and the reps. There are many blacks who very much hate whites and other nationalities. They will vote for Obama solely on his color and wanting to think that they will gain the upper hand by him winning.

    Racism is alive and well on both sides unfortunately.


    October 13, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  22. Joe Zammitta

    I'm an Obama supporter for a lot of reasons none of which has anything to do with race. However, I'm curious what the impact of race really is at this point. Conventional wisdom dictates if Obama were white he would have a better chance of winning, however, I'm inclined to believe he would be less appealing as a white candidate. This may be historic indeed that a candidate is more popular because he is black.

    As stated, I'm voting for him either way. McCain lost any chance of winning me over with the appointment of Palin. What in the world was he thinking.

    October 13, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  23. MPalalay, California

    If you truly believe in racial equality and pluralism, then what are you doing supporting the Republican cause? Don't you know that two very important civil rights laws of the '60s were brought forth and ratified by Democrats?

    The McCain-Palin Replublican ticket is a trick not a treat, man–especially designed for people like you! No way can you can you separate the man from his policies. Like it or not, they are one and the same. 'Read "Hansel & Gretel" again.

    October 13, 2008 at 1:06 pm |
  24. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    You should know if anyone does that Republican neo-con credo is basically every person for themselves. There is no sense of community there. No sense of concern for ones fellow man. It's this Machivellian survival of the fitnest nonsense that fundamentaly underscoes this coldness. It's the very essense of the right wing conservative Republican.

    If you're out of work because your job has been outsourced the simplistic neo-con retort is 'Well just go out and get anotehr job' like high paying jobs just grow on trees ! If you loose your house because you can'tr make your mortgage payment 'it's because you were just too dumb to get the mortgae in the first place', to solve teh problems we have with Iran and Norht Korean the neo-con 'solution' is 'Nuke'em all'

    McCain and Palin are merely products of a degenerate mode of thinking that simply looks the other way when it comes to the economy and racism and human intolerance and promotes violent 'solutions' for anyone that disagrees with these premisses.

    October 13, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
  25. chuck

    John McCain has shown a great hatred for Barack Obama and this is very sad.You could see from both debates that McCain was very unhappy to be in company with Obama. Reaching across the aisle seems like a word John McCain uses ONLY when he needs to make a point. I could have counted on my fingers how many black voters were at the Republican convention compare to what I witnessed at the Democratic convention. As for Sarah Palin with slangs like "hockey moms joe six pack"--these all relate to WHITE PEOPLE. John McCain to this point has run a very poor campaign and does not show that he can improve the situation at all . My mother always said to me "the first impression is what counts" and McCain and Palin are still searching for an impression with twenty-two days left--GO FIGURE.

    October 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  26. Arachnae

    Forty years ago the GOP started running as the 'America: Love It or Leave It' party and they're still doing it, with interest. Disagreement with the ruling party is treason now. That's pretty advanced stuff.

    On the plus sign, it makes me feel quite young again. When they start pulling out the cultural warfare crewcuts-versus-the-unwashed-hippies arguments, I want to flash a peace sign and suggest that you not trust anyone over thirty, which at my age is frankly ludicrous.

    If they haven't learned not to play the generational card in forty years, I doubt they're suddenly going to develop racial sensitivities.

    October 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm |