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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | May 08, 2003

GOP attempts to buy African American support

GOP congressional leaders are launching a "symbolic" effort to help woo black support in 2004.

Republican congressional leaders are responding to concerns that they need to reach out to black voters by pledging today to provide $1 million in federal aid to renovate the home of 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Douglass was an adviser to Abraham Lincoln and one of the Republican Party's first black activists. Fixing his run-down home, a national historic site in Washington's overwhelmingly black and lower-income Anacostia section, is an attention-getting gesture that GOP leaders hope will lend symbolism to their efforts to reach out to African-Americans and attract their support in the elections in 2004.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., also is helping to launch a multimedia ad campaign to increase support for a $100 million monument to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The seven-year effort led by the National Memorial Project Foundation has drawn $25 million in donations and pledges.

This is the same GOP that is pushing a referendum on the Confederate Flag in Georgia, and continues to provide a home for avowed segregationists like Trent Lott and John Ashcroft. This is the same GOP that thinks that speaking (broken) Spanish to Latinos will somehow win their votes. This is the same GOP that showers the wealthy with massive (and unecessary) tax cuts while leaving the poor in the lurch.

But, you see, they are spending a measly $1 million -- less than the cost of flying Bush to his campaign speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln -- to renovate a historical landmark (something that should have nothing to do with race). It's symbolism! Vote for us!

But there's got to be more than lame "symbolism", right? Well, there's this:

The efforts, and other steps aimed at signaling interest in black America through education aid and tax cuts, are an outgrowth of meetings Republican leaders have held with blacks in the aftermath of Sen. Trent Lott's resignation as majority leader.
Tax cuts? Do they really believe that inner city blacks (and Latinos and poor whites, for that matter) are clamoring for the elimination of dividend taxation?

Instead, the GOP has targeted programs helping the poor as part of its assault on the federal budget, threatening such programs as Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Family, and food stamps. Bush lies about the University of Michigan affirmative action program, falsely calling it a quota, and then puts the weight of the federal government behind squashing it.

And then there is the systematic attempts by the GOP to disenfranchise African American voters (rampant throughout the south), the nomination of Lott's boy -- Judge Pickering -- to sit on a federal appeals court, the repeated bigotry eruptions spewing forth from Republicans everywhere (for starters see here, here, and here).

But none of that matters, because the GOP is, with great fanfare, spending $1 million to renovate Frederick Douglass' home.


Posted May 08, 2003 08:45 AM | Comments (44)


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