Republicans need Black voters to win

Steve Korris Nov. 16, 2006, 4:08am

Through a dozen elections Black voters patiently propped up the decaying Democratic Party, while Republicans offered them nothing that could shake their loyalty.

This time Blacks supplied the votes that brought power back to the Democrats.

Through all those elections Republicans acted as if they could afford to concede Black votes to the opposition forever.

If Republicans don't find a way to appeal to Blacks in 2008, they won't have a chance. They can no longer afford the deficits their mistakes have created.

On election night in East St. Louis, Democrats beat Republicans by about 5,000 votes all the way down the ballot.

Republican judicial candidate Paul Evans lost, but he would have won if he had split the vote in East St. Louis.

At least Evans tried. He obtained the endorsement of East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer and earned about 200 more votes than other Republicans in East St. Louis.

In Missouri on election night, Republican Sen. Jim Talent's boosters started to cry while he led by 70,000 votes, because they knew Black votes had not come in.

Relations between the old minority group and the new minority party hit rock bottom in this campaign.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis warned on radio that if Republicans won seats on the Fulton County commission, people could expect worse than dogs and hoses.

Fear tactics like that succeed because Republicans rarely show any sign that they share the hopes and dreams of Black Americans.

Republicans too often behave as if they fear they would lose two White votes if they gained a Black vote.

They misunderstand the problem they face.

Now that Black Democrats can accomplish more for their constituents than ever, Republicans can either quit or compete.

To compete, Republicans must open sincere dialogue with Blacks. The situation requires something like the reconciliation commission in South Africa.

In that divided nation, old foes forgave each other and imagined new ways of working toward common goals.

They began to wipe out a legacy of separation based on skin color.

Republicans must approach Blacks in humility, for tables have turned. Black voters do not need Republicans, but Republicans need Black voters.

The results of Nov. 7 do not have to spell disaster for Republicans. After all, most Blacks do not vote Democratic. In any election, most Blacks do not vote at all.

On election night in East St. Louis 16,000 registered voters did not cast ballots. If a third of them had voted Republican, Democrats would have gained nothing there.

Republicans can win Black voters without scaring away White voters. If they don't try they deserve to lose again.

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