Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
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In an exclusive interview on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour with host Earl Ofari Hutchinson on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles on November 4, Don Scoggins, President of Republicans for Black Empowerment
EOH: What is the GOP doing to attract more black voters?
DS: I would say that at this point, probably not too much. I think with President Obama being in office, the GOP establishment feels it’s probably a hopeless case. Everything is about the next election and I think resources being what they are, they probably feel it’s not a wise use of resources to go after this particular demographics. I disagree, but that’s the way it is.
EOH: What have African Americans gotten in return for their loyalty from the Democratic Party?
DS: I would say that what we’ve gotten is kind of like, nothing, because what we have gotten is something we probably would have gotten anyway if we had let time run its course. I would say during the late ‘50s and mid ‘60s, these rights we have so-called received, we probably would have gotten then anyway. I would say what we have gotten with unbridled support of the Democratic Party has been more dependency. We are hooked into a certain type of political thought that we are facing very hard times. Other ethnic groups that have not embraced a culture dependency are doing relatively well, considering the economy as it is.
EOH: What is your response to the contention that the GOP is a hostile environment for African Americans?
DS: I think what we could do as more of us become a part of the party, we can actually change it. The Tea Party is not the majority of the Republican Party, they just happen to be a majority that you hear about. If you look at the party as a whole, it tends to be right of center. They are conservative economically, and moderate to libertarian when it comes to social views. I think once President Obama leaves office, the Republican Party is going to experience a change because it realizes with a change in demographics it can’t be the way it appears today. As far as being hospitable towards black people, I would say some of us will have to be brave enough to be a part of the organization and change it from the inside.
EOH: By Herman Cain getting support from the Tea Party, does it bode well in moving the GOP toward a more centered position?
DS: I think Herman Cain is a very compelling person within the Republican Party. To look at it another way, he’s just one black person, he doesn’t pose a tremendous threat to the Republican Party in terms of his ideology. I think one of the reason Mr. Cain is getting the flack is that he is an independent Black Republican, not one that cow-tows to the establishment. I think a lot of the problems Mr. Cain is having is because the Republicans who control the money perceive Mr. Cain as a threat. It has to do with more than just politics.
EOH: Mr. Cain says African Americans are brain-washed into blindly supporting the Democratic party but if he got the nomination, 1/3 of African Americans could be pulled away to vote for him.
DS: I would have used a different term than “brain-washed”, but what he said was correct by saying blacks do sort of uncritically appear to support the Democratic Party. I think they are almost too loyal. When you look at other ethnic groups coming into this country, they are learning to parlay their vote. The Asians, Latinos, people from the middle east, they parlay their political support among both parties and are able to get more than what we’ve gotten. They tend to be more entrepreneurial. As far as Mr. Cain getting a third of the black vote, that may be a bit high. I think he will get more support than people would imagine, probably 1/8 to 1/4.
EOH: How do you get around the fact the GOP comes across as a party that hates us and doesn’t want us?
DS: I’ve gone beyond thinking that the Republican Party needs to reach out or accept us. Whites don’t own the Republican Party, just like Blacks don’t own the Democratic Party. As far as I’m concerned I can be a member of whatever party I want. That is one reason the Republicans for Black Empowerment got started. We want to be a forum for people of color and others who want to help broaden the party. I think the savior of the Republican Party will be the minority community. We are not waiting for the Republicans to ask us to be a part. We have many ethnic groups and people of color that are seeking elective office as Republicans. Once we get a more critical mass within the party, I think things will change and be more of an outreach, so to speak.
EOH: Given the Republican party is solid with the Deep South, and the most extreme in the Tea Party, I don’t see how this transformation is going to happen.
DS: Anybody looking for a transformation over night is going to be disappointed. I think people in my generation may not be around when the change comes, but I can see a definite change. I see young blacks in their 40’s and under involved in the Republican Party. All we need is get them involved.