Leo Smith has taken on the impossible task of winning black friends for the Republican Party. According to an Associated Press report, he is leading a push to woo black voters, believing that there are many more “black conservatives” than the numbers indicate but who are reluctant to step forward.

Those numbers tell the story. Black voters have increased from 12.9 million in 2000 to 17.8 million in 2012. Also, 66.2 percent of blacks voted in 2012, which, for the first time, was a higher rate than for whites, at 64.1 percent. Further, according to exit polls, only four percent of black voters identified themselves as Republicans in the 2008 and 2012 elections. So why do Mr. Smith and the rest of the GOP believe that they can win over more black voters? They think they can do so by invoking history. President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party led the charge against slavery and blacks voted for the GOP for a long time. In the face of relentless hostility from Southern segregationists in the Democratic Party, it was a matter of survival.

But Democratic Presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson went out of their way to court the African-American community, meeting with our leaders and implementing policies that sought to validate us as full American citizens, including ending segregation and affirming our right to vote.

Such initiatives are still fresh in the minds of many blacks and we continue to give our support to the Democratic Party precisely because it remains faithful to this compact. The GOP, meanwhile, has drifted so far away from its early principles and policies that it is unrecognizable in its present form.

Whether it is a “conservative” U.S. Supreme Court majority or a GOP-dominated Legislature, the current emphasis is not on continuing to expand on the rights which we should have as full citizens but to curtail them and even turn back the clock, using linguistic gymnastics to justify de facto oppression. In our eyes, therefore, the GOP’s harping on past achievements is therefore not just nonsensical but also an affront.

Black Americans will remain grateful to the GOP for playing an immeasurable role in helping us along the way to American-hood. But in these times we have cause to wonder whether there are not some in the party who now regret that role in our history. So the basic question remains: What has the GOP done for us lately?

The answer: Not very much. So, the GOP’s plan to spend $60 million to court black voters may yield only marginal results. The party may very well reach its quota of getting 200 “minorities” to run for state and local office but that will be meaningless.

Let there be no doubt about it. We are not irrevocably bonded to the Democatic Party. To quote the English Lord Palmerston, speaking probably 150 years ago in another context, we as a people “have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

We choose sides from the perspective of our interests, not the interests of others, and certainly not at a time when their pitch is mockingly linked to upcoming elections.