With campaign season for Congress in full swing, there has been no shortage of public jockeying, political pandering and deviations from the partisan norm. But there is one aspect of the 2010 campaign season that dilates the pupils more than a little bit.

35 Black Republicans running for Congress. The most since Reconstruction. And the obvious causality points to the ascension of one Barack Obama. Perhaps this is the easy link, which makes this phenomenon all the more intriguing.

Vernon Parker from Arizona. Princella Smith from Arkansas. Allen West from Florida. Angela McGlowan. These are four examples of black politicians who attempt to reverse the trend of monochromatic Republicans. McGlowan, Political Analyst for Fox News, recently told Essence’s Cynthia Gordy that the black Republican movement was inspired by Obama’s win.

“Even though he may have given hope to people on the right side of the aisle, we’re all Black people in this,” McGlowan said. “Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, the first Black President has made a difference in our lives.”

This strikes me as a dubious statement. You can’t beat someone over the head on his policies, but claim in the prior breath that you’re glad that he was elected. The election of their (black Republicans) political “enemy,” a Democrat, is the spur to the explosion of more intraracial opposition. Obama’s election was not only inspirational in the Disney movie sense, it brought a whole set of black politicians out the woodwork.

Black Republicans are no more monolithic than black democrats. Not all black Republicans aim to serve the dominant agenda. Many believe that black loyalty to the Democrats have led to the current economic and educational disparity between the races. It was Democratic presidents that launched the two largest entitlement programs in U.S. history (New Deal and Great Society). These programs, largely seen to benefit African Americans at the time, has become a subject of debate since.

Many Republicans view these entitlement programs as proof of the government’s (Democrats) mission to foster dependence among its citizens. They argue that, despite the immediate relief of these programs, there is no incentive for the people on the programs to get off the programs. Black Republicans may feel that being attached to a liberal agenda has exacerbated the income inequality and achievement gap. More than that, some may feel as if the Democratic agenda limits African-Americans’ internal locus of control, which is at the core of the Republican philosophy.

However, a major hurdle for black Republicans: Many of them are siding with the Tea Party, asserting that the racism aspect has been overblown. This might flatline their congressional aspirations before it start. Obama received a record 96 percent of the black vote. With the recent events in Texas and Arizona – spearheaded by the Republicans – heightening racial tensions, it’s safe to say that many blacks won’t all of a sudden “see the light” and vote for Republicans. Even if they are black.

If race is a factor for one side, it is also a factor for the other. For example, McGlowan is in a three-way GOP primary race for Mississippi’s first congressional district seat with Mississippi State Senator Alan Nunnelee and Henry Ross, who are both white. Considering the current climate, a black Republican candidate would have to garner majority support from the white and hispanic voters, a la Obama.

The question then becomes: Is it about politics or race? To actually think you have a shot of winning as a black Republican, you would have to think it’s about politics. You would have to think you can get the white vote based on the issues. Is America at a point now where issues take precedence over hundreds of years of racial strife?

This is a question that black Republicans may find an answer to this election cycle.

If this surge has proven anything, it has shown that there are possibly many latent black Republicans and Independents who have aspirations like any other politician. And latent they should be. Only two black Republicans has served in Congress since the 1930s, which was when the party’s alliance shifted.

After Franklin Delano Roosevelt received 71 percent of the black vote in 1936, more blacks begin aligning with Democrats. But it wasn’t until Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act and received 94 percent of the black vote (a record until Obama broke it) that clinched the loyalty.

To say that black Republicans are delusional in thinking they could get support from both sides may be, to some, an understatement. Even Michael Steele, the off-the-cuff Republican National Chairman, stated to Depaul University students earlier this year that there is no reason for black people to vote Republican.

Talk about being hoisted with one’s own petard.

Perhaps this surge is meant to be more symbolic. Obama won’t be in office forever. Whether there will be another black president in office is unknown. But what we do know is more black people are entering the arena of politics. Some may think they’re delusional in their aspirations, but they are certainly not daunted.

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  • 2cents

    As much as Republican’s are anti-affirmative action, why are they NOW trying to add color splashes to their party. Yes Condi, and Colin Powell have been in office, but black republicans have been promoting blacks to high public exposure positions in masses since Obama. Michael Steele (only several years ago) when he was running for office in Maryland had a shoestring campaign. The only person he could get to co-sign with him on a commercial was ….. Russell Simmons (yes Phat Farm Russell Simmons) The GOP gave him little support and shows they didn’t care to invest in his career. Steele of course lost, but they decide NOW to let him run the GOP. It’s like Black Republicans are the new “it bag” of the season.

    Black people do not have to have the same views, but I hope these newly supported Black Repub. know their roles. It’s almost as if a homeless black man just put on an oxford sweater and some penny loafers, registered as a Republ., and mentioned wanting to be active in the party all in the same day, he would be having a press conference the next day about his bid for governor on Fox News. Hope they know they’re pawns. Instead of trying to blackface the party to look innovative, they should look into their policies.

    I secretly hope some entry-level white Capital Hill GOP intern who spends months and late nights cold-calling and distributing literature sues the Republican party for discrimination for non-promotion.

  • Sonya

    Simply put. We live in America where everyone has the RIGHT to vote,believe and support what is in their best interest. I’m so sick of Blacks in American acting like not being a Republican is some how criminial.

  • sloane

    i’m a liberal, and while i’m not in love with the democratic party and their inability to consistently deliver on their promises (universal healthcare, ahem) i would never, ever align myself with the republican party with their attacks, disgused as policy, on anyone who is not a white, wealthy, christian, male. they attract racist pieces of sh*t like tea partiers, kkk members, and birthers for a reason. that is because they WANT to. they been using the southern strategy for years, and they’ve expanded their web of fear and bigotry of the other to include the : evil illegal alien latinos, jihadist arabs, and the perverted homosexuals. their entire platform is based on consolidating their power and their money, getting the dumb and typically poor white people to go along with them based on racial and perceived cultural solidarity while shutting everyone else out. i definitely think black people who wholeheartedly support them are delusional on some level. they are allowing themselves to be used as tokens of diversity by a polictical party plotting against their interests. i can possibly understand being conservative in some respects, but allying yourself with the republican party, i don’t understand.

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