Instead of complaining that the GOP ignores them and the Democrats take them for granted, blacks, especially black Republicans, should do what disaffected Southern Democrats and tea party Republicans did when they felt that the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, were disrespecting them — they took action!
Southern Democrats took over the GOP in the South and more recently the tea party transformed the GOP leading to victories in the House and Senate.
There is an old saying that if you want to be heard and have leverage in politics, bring money or votes. Blacks bring neither to Republicans and are ignored but do bring votes to the Democrats.
What do they get for their votes?
They demand nothing, let their black president run all over them and ignore their interests in favor of other voter groups who demand and get attention — Hispanics, gays, and the abortion lobby.
What do blacks get: crime ridden cities controlled by Democrats, high unemployment, inferior urban schools, and a back seat to the children of illegal immigrants.
So, on both sides of the political ledger, blacks get little, if any, respect.
However, there still is hope for blacks to show some form of political sophistication just as the tea party has — through targeted political action.
The GOP primary season is only months away. With 16 contenders for the nomination, how many black political pundits and GOP leaders are advising blacks to take the necessary steps to vote in those primaries, especially in states with significant black populations?
In 2012, Charles Cherry II, publisher of the Florida Courier, Florida’s only statewide black-owned newspaper, encouraged his readers to register as Republicans so they could support Herman Cain in the Florida GOP primary.
Cain dropped out but Cherry’s idea was masterful. That would have given blacks leverage and maybe gotten the attention of Romney whose campaign generally acted as if blacks didn’t exist in Florida and elsewhere.
With the large number of GOP candidates, the same principal could work in 2016.
Cherry is not alone. SiriusXM radio host and journalist Karen Hunter, who is black and Republican, has urged blacks to change party affiliation and get involved in Republican primaries. She believes that voting and helping to determine the GOP nominee will put pressure on both parties.
She has written that blacks should “stop being mad and upset and neglected and overlooked and start using the ample power we have.”
The “switch and vote” idea could produce interesting results and is worth pursuing. Just look at Florida, a must-win for Republicans, which will hold its winner-take-all primary in March.
There are already nearly 57,000 registered black GOP voters and another 219,000 with no party affiliation (Independents), both of which have been, as usual, virtually ignored by the GOP establishment.
If the 57,000 already registered GOP voters were mobilized by one or two of the remaining contenders after the Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina primaries, as well as 50,000-100,000 of the black Independents, the result could mean taking Florida’s winner-take-all prize of 99 delegates.
The question is which of the 16 will make it to Florida and have the funds to compete and make such an effort?
Florida’s black Republicans, and Independents, should wake up and realize their potential power to make an impact in Florida and on the GOP primary process.
South Carolina is another key early primary state where such a strategy might work. The South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce has initiated an informational campaign to persuade black voters to reflect on the possibility of voting for someone who is not a Democrat in the 2016 presidential primaries and the general election.
The Chamber’s president, Stephen Gilchrist, has noted that “we have the first minority and female governor in the state . . . the first black Senator since Reconstruction. Those are some very significant firsts on the Republican side of the aisle that African Americans can no longer just stay silent about.” GOP candidates should be knocking at their doors.
Such a strategy might just work. A recent Public Policy Polling survey found Donald Trump would win 37 percent of the vote from South Carolina Republicans and Ben Carson would pick up 21 percent.
With these numbers, the other candidates, especially Bush, who is tied with Cruz at 6 percent, have nothing to lose by employing such a strategy.
With such a plan in Florida, South Carolina, and other targeted states, the other candidates could make a significant appeal to black voters on basic issues such as sanctity of life, school choice, the importance of family, and support for small and minority-owned business. They have nothing to lose — blacks have everything to gain.
The concept of blacks voting in GOP primaries could be the recipe for gaining some leverage, and respect, with the GOP and Democrats as well. With growing concerns that Trump’s rhetoric is alienating Hispanics, the GOP, and its candidates can’t afford to leave any voter group political stone unturned.
Much is at stake. Election 2016 could be the epitaph for black and Republican political relevance in presidential elections, or the dawn of a new beginning.
The question is who will lead the effort?
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns.