Robert J. Walker, a retired educator in the DeSoto County town of Walls, had a column on The Washington Post website this weekend in which he provocatively said, “I would be a Republican if it weren’t for the Republicans.”
Walker cited a 1927 story about an American professor who, upon meeting Mohandas K. Gandhi, asked the Indian leader what he thought of Western religions.
“I like your Christ, but not your Christianity,” Gandhi replied. He meant that the people of India did not witness Christ-like examples from their British rulers, and so they felt no need to convert to the Christian faith.
“Something similar might be said about many of my fellow African Americans and their views of the Republican Party,” Walker wrote. “They might share the Christian values and family values often espoused by the GOP, but they do not see nearly enough Republicans living those values. And they see far too many betraying them.”
Walker added, “Many African American Christians are conservative in their beliefs, especially African American Christians living in the Deep South. ... Like many churchgoing African Americans across the South, I agree with Republican rhetoric extolling low taxes, not depending on the government, working hard for what you get and living within your means.
“Many of us even agree with Republicans on matters such as immigration and abortion. We hear Republicans say they are a ‘big tent’ party and that they are welcoming to all people. But are they really?”
Walker cites liberal MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow’s admonition to “watch what they do, not what they say,” and concludes that she is correct.
“Before the 1960s, African Americans — or at least those who were not prohibited from voting by Jim Crow laws — voted Republican nearly half the time,” he wrote. “Why? Because before the 1960s, the Republican Party backed legislation that had the residual effect of benefiting Black people. And the Democratic Party welcomed racist Southern segregationists.”
Walker believes Republicans are making a mistake by failing to seek the support of Black voters. Instead, he believes they are doing the exact opposite today: Trying to suppress Black votes by rewriting election rules. This does nothing to convince some Black citizens to look at what Republicans are saying.
There’s a good bit of truth in what Walker writes. Perhaps the great irony is an equal truth: The Democratic Party appears to have abandoned one of its core support groups, blue-collar workers, in favor of extreme liberalism that plays poorly with most voters. President Biden may provide a temporary restraint, but the trend is obvious.
American political parties tend to win elections when they move toward the center. Biden’s victory last year is an example. What’s interesting is that right now, both Republicans and Democrats appear to be moving away from it.
Jack Ryan is editor and publisher of the McComb Enterprise-Journal.