From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Aug 20 10:39:29 2000
Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2000 22:22:19 -0400
From: Manning Marable <email@example.com>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] The Illusion of Inclusion
George W. Bush: The Illusion of Inclusion
By Manning Marable <firstname.lastname@example.org>
George W. Bush wants black and brown Americans to know that
he truly loves us, so very, very much.
In his acceptance speech at the Republican Party's
presidential nominating convention, Bush delivered a
message, which sounded at times more like Robert F. Kennedy
than Ronald Reagan. Greatness is not defined by "wealth,"
but "is found when American character and American courage
overcome American challenges," Bush declared. "We heard it
in the civil rights movement, when brave men and women did
not say, `We shall cope,' or `We shall see.' They said, `We
Bush recognized that contemporary America was challenged
with fundamental social problems. "When these problems
aren't confronted, it builds a wall within our nation. On
one side are wealth and technology, education and ambition.
On the other side of the wall are poverty and prison,
addiction and despair. And, my fellow Americans," Bush
concluded, "We must tear down that wall."
Bush noted that "racial progress has been steady, if still
too slow. We will continue this progress, and we will not
The entire theatrical production called the Republican
National Convention resonated with Bush's message of racial
inclusion. For four days, the Republicans paraded before the
television camera a near-endless series of black and brown
performers: the Temptations, dancing black children, a
gospel choir, rhythm and blues and salsa singers. General
Colin Powell and Representative J.C. Watts, the only black
republican in Congress, joined in the celebration. A black
woman was even brought in to sing the national anthem.
The message was clear: the Republican Party is a big
multicultural tent, where everyone, regardless of race,
gender and class is welcome.
Fortunately there were some in the media who denounced
this nonsense for what it was. New York Times columnist Bob
Herbert described the scene as "ethnic overkill to mask the
party's lack of diversity." It was truly a "breathtaking
exercise in hypocrisy for them to haul so many blacks before
the camera for the sole purpose of singing, dancing, preaching
and praising a party that has wanted no part of them."
Between the convention stage and the audience, there were
in effect two parallel racial universes. The stage was
multiracial and pluralistic; the delegates were over 90
percent white, mostly male, and extremely conservative.
Of the Republican convention's 2,066 delegates and 2,066
alternates, only about 4 percent were African Americans.
About twenty percent of the delegates reported personal
net worth's exceeding one million dollars.
The basic Republican strategy under both Bushes - former
President Bush as well as his eldest son - has been to
attempt to fragment the near monolithic hold the Democratic
Party has on the African-American electorate. When he was in
the White House, former President Bush met dozens of times
with black business and political leaders, and supported
economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa. He
increased the budget of the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, and launched an "Initiative on Historically
Black Colleges and Universities," directing millions of
dollars in federal funds to black higher education.
Some Republicans have astutely pushed this inclusive
strategy throughout the 1990s. According to the Joint Center
for Political and Economic Studies, 58 black Republicans ran
for the House in the last three elections. Watts, first elected
to Congress in 1994, has now become the GOP's poster boy for
diversity. In Connecticut, conservative black Republican
Gary Franks was elected in 1990 and served three terms in
office. This year, the Republicans successfully recruited a
large number of African Americans to run for federal, state
and local offices.
Even greater GOP efforts are being made among Latinos.
Bob Dole received only about 30 percent of the Latino vote
in 1996, but Bush received an unprecedented 49 percent in
his Texas gubernatorial race in 1998. Bush has repeatedly
addressed Hispanic audiences in Spanish, most recently
before one thousand people at the annual convention of the
National Council of La Raza. Bush tells Latino audiences
that "I like to be seen in neighborhoods where sometimes
Republicans aren't seen." And he frequently brings along
and pushes forward his nephew George P. Bush, the oldest
son of his brother Jeb and Jeb's wife Columba, noting that
Columba's Mexican heritage makes his nephew part-Latino.
Bush asserts that he's a "different kind of Republican."
So has the leopard changed its spots? Don't bet the farm
For example, Governor Bush recently attempted to appoint one
Charles W. Williams to chair a law enforcement commission in
Texas. However, just a year before his appointment, Williams
had testified in a discrimination suit that terms like "black
bastard" and "porch monkey" weren't racially offensive.
Black people, Williams explained, don't mind being called
"nigger." When the media publicized Williams's racist
statements, Bush was forced to ask for his resignation.
Williams did resign as chair, but he still remains on
the Texas commission!
Does a "different kind of Republican" speak at Bob Jones
University in South Carolina, and refuse to condemn the
flying of the Confederate battle flag over that state's
This March, Faye M. Anderson, the vice chairman of the
Republican National Committee's New Majority Council, which
was dedicated to recruiting blacks and Latinos into the
party, bitterly submitted her resignation. Anderson blamed,
among others, Governor Bush for "his failure to address the
issues of concern" to African American groups such as the
NAACP. She now observes that the Republican convention was
nothing more than "a made-for-television illusion of
inclusion." Even Colin Powell, the most admired black
Republican leader, complains that "too often the Republican
Party has said, `We know what's best for you,' as opposed to
listening to the African-American community."
What all of this represents is a reconfigured politics
of race in the era of globalization. The corporate and
political ruling classes must incorporate growing sectors
of the Latino and black middle class into their managerial
ranks. The Republicans seek to create a class-conscious
black and brown elite, which unambiguously champions a
politics that is destructive to the interests of most
minority, working class and poor people.
The vast majority of African-American and Latino voters
are working people, and they will not be fooled by this
elaborate masquerade of racial inclusion. Bush claims to
be a "compassionate conservative," and that the Republican
Party is now one big tent. But as columnist Gail Collins
recently noted, "Bush's move to the center consists of his
willingness to accept the votes of people who disagree with
him. The tent is huge, but the ringmaster is only listening
to the folks who entered from the right."
Dr. Manning Marable is Professor of History and Political
Science, and the Director of the Institute for Research
in African-American Studies, Columbia University. "Along
the Color Line" is distributed free of charge to over 350
publications throughout the U.S. and internationally. Dr.
Marable's column is also available on the Internet at
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