Stephen A. Smith, the popular talk show host on ESPN, recently stated that Black people should vote for the GOP so that both the Republican and Democratic parties will work harder to obtain our votes.
Stephen A. Smith is wrong.
Black Republicans have attempted this since the 1930s and have an abysmal record. Prof. Leah Wright Rigueur’s book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican, covers the time spanning the New Deal to President Reagan’s rise and introduces the reader to Black individuals who wanted to use the GOP as a conduit to a better life. To say that they failed would be an understatement.
Three quotes from the book tell the story:
“Rank-and-file black Republicans…carried the burden of the party’s cognitive dissonance between its language of inclusion and actions of exclusion.”
“…Republicans sought African American voters, but they wanted to secure this support without exerting meaningful effort or enacting any significant policy changes.”
“In short, African Americans wanted financial support and publicity to help their chosen black candidates win, whereas white officials wanted to win converts and neutralize the black vote, without appealing to racism.”
The last one should be familiar to anyone who has read or heard the term “voter (or election) integrity” in the last few years. These people were staunch supporters of the two-party system and were of the opinion that complete support of the Democratic Party would lead to exploitation. Unsurprisingly, the GOP exploited them. They were exploitable because they did not have a numerical advantage in national elections and the GOP stuck with the constituencies that would give them a higher probability of winning.
I understand that these people did this for money and influence and believed that entrepreneurship (along with government subsides) would lead them to a better place, but can’t see why complete support of the two-party system was their goal. There is no law that states that we must have only two major parties. Multiple parties would bring more ideas to the fore.
The problem lies in the fact that two major parties can’t represent over 300 million citizens. The two parties might not even have the ability to fully represent their own factions. The GOP has conservatives of multiple stripes, moderates, and libertarians. The Democratic Party has liberals, progressives, centrist, conservatives, and their own libertarians. This doesn’t make sense because all of these groups are in some way in conflict with each other within each party.
We can do better.
We have evidence of third-party presidential candidates influencing national elections. They introduce issues that the two major parties have no interest in debating and force them into national discussions. George Wallace and Ross Perot were probably the most influential third-party national candidates in the latter half of the 20th century and Elizabeth Warren could possibly outdo both of them if she ran as a Populist.
Imagine what would happen if we had multiple parties and there needed to be a coalition government. I know that income, gender, and racial equality would play a more prominent role in policy making. One can only dream, but I refuse to dream of moving to the GOP in its current state. Sorry, Stephen A.
Vontilla Steven has a day job and many writing side hustles: wrote and performed a one-person show, co-created a sketch comedy show, and wrote a screenplay that did well in a national competition. He is based in New York and is originally from Lafayette, Louisiana. He doesn't eat meat and that poses a problem when he visits his hometown. He loves to cook, lift and drop weights, and run the Stairs of Doom in Washington Heights.