GOP fails the color-line as lone black Republican leaves the House

By Gus Bode

U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, a Republican from Oklahoma, announced he was retiring from the House of Representatives July 2 to spend more time with his family. His explanation does not seem credible. After all, he is a young man, and he had just recently received a celebrated position in the Republican Party.

Much of the media was fixated on the fact that Watts was the only African-American Republican in Congress and that his leaving was an embarrassment to the Republican Party. However, the media failed to mention the fact that there are no blacks in the Senate. Notwithstanding, there are African-Americans in the House of Representatives. Are the Democrats embarrassed about the lack of African-Americans in the Senate? Probably not. Despite the fact there are few faces of color in the Senate, African-Americans still continue to flock to the Democratic party in droves and avoid the Republican Party like an ugly date on prom night. Is it because blacks view Democrats as somewhat empathic to their problems? Is it because the Republicans have allowed the religious, ultra-conservative right to hijack the Republican Party? Is it because many in the Republican Party are opposed to affirmative action? Or could it be that many in the Republican Party appear to be so obsessed with lower taxes and the belief that any assistance to another group is deprivation for them.

Is it because it appears that the Republican Party has forgotten the plight of the poor and minorities in the United States? Is it because so many Republican candidates during political campaigns have used racial code words and racial themes to perpetrate stereotypes and instigate white fears? (i.e. Willie Horton by George H. Bush in 1988, or Ronald Reagan and the welfare queens or Jessie Helm, North Carolina’s senator who played on white fears by showing a white man losing a job to an African-American due to affirmative action.)


These and many other occurrences are likely reasons why the Republican Party’s talk of inclusion and diversity does not play well in the minority community. It has been speculated by Washington insiders that the true reason Watts resigned his position as congressman was that he, like so many other African-Americans, discovered that a good education and prestigious job don’t preclude African-Americans from being discriminated against and ignored at the work place.

At the last Republican Party convention, the theme was diversity and inclusion. The party’s slogan appeared to be, “We’re not your daddy’s Republican party,” and Republicans were openly admitting that the party had displayed little sympathy for problems in the African-American community in the past. In light of Watt’s resignation, what does this say when the lone black Republican has decided to leave the show?