Our television sets are already bombarded with the promises and gaffes of political candidates wanting to be elected president in 2016. Our next president will have some hard decisions to make, especially if he/she wants to sincerely see progress in the Black community in the next 10, 15, or 20 years.
Too often people argue that Republicans are not engaging enough, and while there is more we have to do, that should not continue to be the reason we vote majority Democrat. To base our livelihood on optics instead of policy results is insane. They say it is insane to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result— the same is true with over 90% of blacks voting Democrat.
African Americans are in a position to understand the facts of the last few decades and that involves accepting some responsibility for our current state of affairs. We cannot continue to “blame the White man” when we have the right to vote, own property, apply to any university, start our own business, serve in law enforcement, and run for office.
I am not discounting the glaring disparities that still face the Black community, not one single bit. I am just saying, the victim mentality affects our ability to be the resilient, bold people we are. Where we are today has a direct correlation to the policies we support and vote for.
While it’s common for members of the two major parties to refer to their opponents as enemies, I beg to differ. I am a Republican — and I’m not the enemy. Republicans are not the enemy. So here I will outline reasons African Americans should consider voting Republican.
In America, white families have wealth that is 12 times that of Black families, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Black unemployment is almost double the national average of 5.1%. We still have many living paycheck-to-paycheck. Not to mention, the underemployment rate is 14.1%. Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican senator, reminds America everyday that our party stands on the side of providing a hand-up to all, especially people of color. Scott’s “Opportunity Agenda” is proof of his commitment as a Republican to providing for those often overlooked. His agenda includes the SKILLS Act, which provides job training; LEAP Act, which provides tax credit for apprenticeships; and the SEA Jobs Act, which establishes a veteran’s workforce training program.
Earlier this year, the House passed the American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015 and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, both bills sponsored by Republicans will assist entrepreneurs and small business owners with permanent tax credits for research and development. Rep. Steve Chabot is a tireless advocate for startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. He sponsored the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2015, which aims to reduce regulations for small businesses.
It has been 60 years since Brown v Board of Education, yet black students continue to underperform compared to their white counterparts. Earlier this year, US News & World Report noted: “Black students entering kindergarten for the first time score lower than their white counterparts in reading, mathematics, science, cognitive flexibility and approaches to learning — every category tested.”
What we have before us is a broken education system. Democrats including President Obama have advocated for additional funds for the broken system, including $77.4 billion for the Department of Education in 2012. It takes more than money, we need bold, innovative solutions to engage today’s student population.
Criminal Justice Reform
One in three black males can expect to go to prison in their lifetime versus whites at one in seventeen. It is a hard pill to swallow that we have laws on the books that result in a person who committed a non-violent drug crime spending the rest of their lives in prison.
In 2014, 22 members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted to add three more mandatory minimums in the SAVE Act. Mandatory minimums under the Clinton Administration’s “Crime Bill” has led to the increased number of minorities imprisoned for non-violent drug crimes. President Bill Clinton did apologize, but we need more than an apology for those serving lengthy sentences for non-violent drug crimes. We need action.
Conservatives have co-sponsored several pieces of legislation including the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, SAFE Justice Act, The REDEEM Act, and the Justice Safety Valve Act. These pieces of legislation seek to level the playing field for all those who encounter the justice system. No longer should it be that a kid with a high power attorney receives substantially different results that the kid being represented by a public defender.
Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. He has been a staunch advocate for tax reform, including expanding the earned income tax credit, eliminating deductions that only benefit the wealthy, and decreasing the mortgage interest deduction. Speaker Ryan understands the importance of job creation and providing breaks for those who need it the most, low-come and middle class Americans. As Speaker he has the ability to shine a brighter light on tax reform.
I registered as a Republican because the Republican platform mimicked my personal values and beliefs. This call-to-action is not a request for all African Americans to become Republicans. It is a call to examine where we are and examine all options for a better future. I believe conservative principles will move us from the bottom of the valley to the mountain top.
We need candidates that have solutions to the issues our community faces, and these candidates must address the Black community as an integral part of their campaign platforms. Your vote counts and matters. 2016 matters.
Chelsi P. Henry, Esq., is an attorney, entrepreneur, and business consultant. Contact her at www.chelsiphenry.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsiphenry.