Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The New GOP Must Be Diverse and Strong by Akindele Akinyemi

As the United States turn the pages of history as Barack Obama becoming the nation's first Black President we must consider that this is a time when we must reflect on the struggles of those before us who fought against slavery, who fought against Jim Crow, who fought against lynchings in the South, who fought against poll taxes, who fought against segregation in schools and the right to sit at the lunch counters.

Today is a day when Civil Rights meet Silver Rights. It is almost as if the day the Earth stood still. Watching a Black man become President of the United States should tell anyone if you really want it you can get if with hard work and dedication. Obama did not rely on Affirmative Action. He relied on his passion and dedication. As much as I disagree with most of Obama's policies I will give our new President credit for hard work and turning out the vote for our young people.

An Obama's presidency will not scare me like the rest of my conservative colleagues. While many of my colleagues are afraid of what may happen under an Obama's presidency I am afraid of the fact that we are still struggling to break the country-club, good old boy network that exist in our GOP. This is a serious concern to me personally, not just as an American but a person who supports the core principles of the GOP. It is stupid for Democrats in Michigan to come into the rural GOP areas and win elections. The GOP NOW have to go into the urban areas on a platfornm that makes sense.

What is scary is the fact that we have taken a slower approach to receive people in our party. Part of the problem is we are too quick to shoot facts about the Republican Party and it's history to Black people. We are quick to point out about the need for limited government, roll back taxes and yes, my favorite, educational options.

I am in favor of all of this and these are great issues, however, this is not the CORE reason why minorities should cross over to the GOP. Talking to a person about national defense is important but what about CITY and COMMUNITY defense from the drugs and gangs that plague our community?

I observed Obama's grassroots approach. He included all RACES. It did not matter if you were Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, or Indian. He was able to connect to people. We mocked him about his "community activism." Well, that human approach to dealing with people has paid off as he becomes the President of the United States. All because of what he did in the south side of Chicago.

Here is a tip for some of my fellow conservatives. If you want to make an immediate impact in minority communities try volunteering at a soup kitchen in Detroit or Flint. Read a book to a group of 1st graders at an urban school. Actually show up for events and festivals at places like the Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Pontiac, the Montreux Jazz festival in Detroit and the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is where you get a mix of people and ideas grouped in one setting.

We talk about how Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican but when I went to the MLK day event yesterday in Southfield, MI there were nothing but two Black Republicans in the room of hundreds of people. How come the GOP will not support the very things and people we fought for (Civil Rights, etc.)? Not one GOP presence at this critical event. That is not only poor on our end but the lack of effort will push our party into the history books like the Whigs.

Concentrate on setting up focus groups to discuss why people in urban communities do not vote Republican. The #1 response I get here in Detroit is they never show up in our city to do anything. Not Reagan, not Bush, not the Contract With America. The party never shows up. Can you imagine what urban areas in Michigan would look like if we showed up? I should not be the only urban conservative on any given platform in urban areas. We need more to step up to the plate.

Do not be afraid to help out in a community neighborhood organization. If you are in places like Detroit or Inkster talk about community revitalization. This effects ALL of us who lives in the city, regardless of sex, race or political affiliation. Education should be our #1 priority. Do not forget about improving quality health care in our state. Keep pressing on issues such as affordable housing.

Support minorities that are running for party offices, county positions and elected positions. Don't just encourage minorities to run for offices or positions but support them with bodies and finances. It is a deep and tragic mistake for both former Oakland County Commissioner Mike Rogers and former Muskegon County Clerk Karen Buie to lose because of the lack of support. Furthermore, for Rogers to be denied a position to be Road Commissioner in Oakland County by his own party is a complete slap in the face. It makes other Black Republicans in the party if they are wasting their time trying to assist in creating a better GOP. Have we listened to Renee Amoore, who is running for Co-Chair of the RNC lately? She is an health care expert. If anyone can assist us in crafting a strong message on health in the urban community is Renee Amoore.

Leadership reflects action. If we call ourselves leaders then we should lead. If we lack in a certain area such as urban outreach then go to someone who is an expert in reaching out to the community. These types of relationships will pay off in the long run.

These small, human interactions will help the Republican Party go a very long way. Let's shed the rich people, country-club, good old boy network image and put on an image that represents all of the America.

The Republican Party was originally founded to free Blacks from slaves. We must be a party of freedom again. Minorities are once again trapped and enslaved to failed policies in the inner city. All politics are local and therefore it's the GOP's season to come into the community and make a difference. Our calling is now. Let's not play catch up under this Obama Adminstration.

Let's get this party started.


RightMichigan.com said...

Just a note...

Things might be different over there in Metro but here on the west side there is no Country Club / Urban dichotomy. The folks doing the work and making the policy are just good, solid, hard working Americans.

No puppet masters. No string pulling.

And as someone who personally spent several days a week for two straight years INSIDE the City of Detroit (not the metro area) alongside a candidate for the highest office in the state I can argue to a degree of certainty that the messengers are willing, able and equipped...

Unfortunately, despite protestations and promises to the contrary, voting patterns rarely change.


Akindele F. Akinyemi said...

I understand your point but do you find it interesting that the diversity in our party is almost non-existent? We cannot continue to call ourseveles a party of inclusiveness if there is no serious outreach to others.

I will give Larry DeShazor, Paul Scott and Justin Amash support for winning their races. But at the same token we lost two key Black Republicans..Mike Rogers and Karen Buie. Buie had more support than Rogers but BOTH ended up losing on straight ticket.

Now I will say this..living on that side of the state for a short period of time I did find something interesting. I found the GOP working (like you mentioned). Also, the unions on the other side of I-69 has less influence in West Michigan than here in Southeast Michigan. So there are some different dynamics there. But again, while my colleagues over there are hard working Americans how much OUTREACH and EDUCATION are we pushing to build a new GOP?

DeVos was not afraid to come into Detroit and he still is not. But let's be for real...what happened to the urban outreach efforts AFTER both Keith Butler and DeVos in 2006? We have not seen it and now nationally it is a serious problem. This is something that we must be held accountable for and correct right away if we want to win.