Purveyor of Truth
Whether the republican party and its leadership want to recognize it or not they have a perception problem. A major one. Especially among minority groups and in this particular instance the African-American community.
With the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act approaching and with commemorative activities scheduled in Selma, Alabama, not a single member of the republican congressional leadership is attending. For a party that claims it is inclusive and has a large tent to willfully ignoring the significance of 1965 is, to say the least, foolish. But I guess the message that will be received by a majority of African-Americans is lost on them.
Insensitivity to issues of this importance and magnitude is precisely why the party of Lincoln is unable to effectively grow its ranks. Sincerity gains results, empty talk flies like the wind. Either republicans are tone deaf or they simply do not care. There exists a great probability the latter is the prevailing perception.
Another lost opportunity for republicans to do the right thing. It certainly has been a pattern of late. A pattern who's driving force is all too painfully obvious.
Scores of U.S. lawmakers are converging on tiny Selma, Alabama, for a large commemoration of a civil rights anniversary. But their ranks don’t include a single member of House Republican leadership — a point that isn’t lost on congressional black leaders.
None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was once thought likely to attend to atone for reports that he once spoke before a white supremacist group — will be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers. A number of rank-and-file Republicans have been aggressively lobbying their colleagues to attend, and several black lawmakers concurred.
“It is very disappointing that not a single Republican leader sees the value in participating in this 50th commemoration of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. I had hoped that some of the leadership would attend, but apparently none of them will,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina. “The Republicans always talk about trying to change their brand and be more appealing to minority folks and be in touch with the interests of African-Americans. This is very disappointing.”
Former CBC Chair Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio) agreed.
“Not only do they have an opportunity to participate in something that is historic in this country, but certainly they’ve lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care,” she said. “Their loss.”
Black leaders in Congress pressured Scalise to attend the Faith and Politics Institute event after news reports revealed that the Louisiana Republican gave a speech to a group connected with Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when Scalise was still serving in the state Legislature. Scalise said late last month that a scheduling conflict would keep him from Selma this year but that he hoped to attend in 2016.
McCarthy has attended in the past but won’t make the trip this year. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will also miss the event.
Still, a number of rank-and-file Republicans are attending. Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, is a co-sponsor of the event along with Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama. Scott is the first African-American Republican elected from the South since the end of Reconstruction.
Roby’s office said Thursday 23 Republican House and Senate members are registered to attend the pilgrimage.
9% of republican members of Congress are planning on being in attendance. It's something anyway.
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