Once upon a time, former Texas governor Rick Perry was considered a formidable presidential candidate. When he announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Charleston, South Carolina back in 2011, he was considered the one person who could topple ultimate primary winner Mitt Romney. However, Perry’s strongest rivalry throughout the race proved to between himself and articulation, and after one too many gaffes and embarrassing primary losses, he dropped out of the race.
Perry is now once again seeking the GOP presidential nomination, but thus far his chances at securing the nod look to be as likely as Lil’ Kim allowing Nicki Minaj to babysit her daughter. As a result of this reality, Perry is fishing for ways to draw greater attention to his candidacy. What better way to do that than to pretend to care about Black voters?
It started with a speech Perry gave last week to the National Press Club in which he declared, "For too long, we Republicans have been content to lose the Black vote because we found that we could win elections without it." And now that this is no longer a winning strategy, we matter to you? Go on, Rick.
“When we gave up on trying to win the support of African-Americans, we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln," he added. "I am here to tell you that it is Republicans, not Democrats, who are truly offering Black Americans the hope of a better life for themselves and their children."
I’m assuming Perry means “offering Black Americans the hope of a better life” by way of keeping wages stagnant, gutting funding for public education, and promoting austerity, which hits Blacks hardest by giving away public-sector jobs that have long been a big source of Black employment.
Perry continued to lay it on rather thick: “Too often, we Republicans – myself included – have emphasized our message on the Tenth Amendment but not our message on the Fourteenth – an amendment, it bears reminding, that was one of the first great contributions of the Republican Party to American life, second only to the abolition of slavery.”
There were other parts of the speech that stood out – including Perry’s claim, “I am proud to live in a country with an African-American President. But President Obama cannot be proud of the fact that the prevalence of Black poverty has actually increased under his leadership.”
Yes, but that is due to some of the aforementioned conservative policies. To Perry’s credit, he is correct in that many Blacks are leaving cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Baltimore for Texas cities like Houston and Dallas, as are people of other races due to the state's booming economy. Perry also went on to note that Black poverty is lower in Texas than it is in New York and California and that the Black graduation rate in Texas is 13 percent higher than the national average.
And like another Republican who would like to be his party’s nominee, Senator Rand Paul, Perry asserts that far too many Texans are going to prison for non-violent drug offenses, and as a result, face difficulties finding work with a criminal record.
I have never voted for Rick Perry as governor of Texas and the only Texan who I’d vote for president in 2016 is Beyoncé as a write-in candidate. Even so, Perry raises some legitimate points. Moreover, as Matthew Yglesias outlined on Vox last month, Perry’s record as governor far exceeds his competition.
Yet, if Perry wants to seriously reach out to Black voters, he ought to be more forthright about his own record. Yes, Perry is right that he appointed the first Black person to the Supreme Court of Texas – and Wallace Jefferson did go on to become the Supreme Court’s first Black Chief Justice. Unfortunately, Perry is also the same person who pushed racist voter ID laws. To Perry, it’s okay for a handgun permit to be considered an acceptable form of identification to vote, but not a student ID. Worse is that he continues to defend these laws in the wake of criticism from the likes of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
By the way, since Perry wants to cite “moral legitimacy” as a reason to push for more support among Black voters, he should explain the death penalty being disproportionately used more on Blacks. While we’re at it, another chat about “Niggerhead” ranch may be in order.
This week, Perry penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Republicans, Race and Economic Opportunity for All.” The problem with the op-ed is the similar to that of Perry’s speech: you’re saying some of the right things, but you’re not owning the racism that exists within your party and ideology. They’re all just talking…and disingenuous chatter is not enough to get Blacks to ditch the Democrats in droves.