Opinion: Republican presidents and the race card
It is that time of the year. Time for the Democrats to call Republicans racists just as they have for nearly every presidential campaign for more than 50 years. President Ronald Reagan was called racist for saying the phrase “welfare queen,” President George H. W. Bush for the Willie Horton commercial, and President Richard Nixon for saying he had a “Southern strategy.” President George W. Bush faced accusations of not liking black people post-Hurricane Katrina. But the results of Republicans’ tenures as president tell a different story.
GOP led successes
Civil Rights: During the 1960s every major Civil Rights bill passed with a higher percent of Republican votes (80 percent House, 82 percent Senate) than Democrat votes (61 percent House, 69 percent Senate). It is noteworthy that it was largely Democrats who worked hard via the use of filibusters to stall and block Civil Rights bills even prior to the 1960s. And, President George H.W. Bush signed the last Civil Rights bill in 1991. All Civil Rights bills have largely been led by Republicans.
School Desegregation: I grew up during the forced busing era, causing white flight in neighborhoods and ripping our country apart. The Republican Party came up with a workable solution — magnet schools. Millions of students across America have benefited from this initiative.
Reduce Tax Burden: To make the economic plight of the poor just a little more palpable, the Republicans in 1969 started the Earned Income Tax Credit. The credit allowed the poor to receive a tax refund even though they may not have made any tax payments. This Republican program has helped hundreds of thousands every year.
Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988: President Reagan signed into law.
Urban Renewal: Helping our urban areas has been something that the Republican Party has constantly pushed for with Congressman and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp playing a key role. We have had Empowerment Zones and HUBZones that have produced billions in economic incentives, profits, and advantages over the decades. Now, we have added Opportunity Zones.
Welfare Reform: I chaired the GOP Task Force for welfare reform. It has played a role in attempting to end the cycle of government dependency. I wrote the Debit Card/Electronic Benefit Transfer provision which has helped to eliminate cash in the welfare system.
Justice Reform: Republicans focus on recidivism programs to help those who have paid their debt to society so they can re-enter and regain opportunities.
By contrast, I have found Black Democrats all too frequently on the wrong side of history.
Democrats misdirected issues
Abortion: I have been Pro-Life for nearly 25 years, as would most Republicans, and all the GOP presidential candidates in my memory. Today, Blacks and Hispanics make up 56 percent of all the abortions in America and abortion providers are disproportionately placed in Black and Hispanic communities.
Racial Gerrymandering: I was temporarily tossed from the Congressional Black Caucus and physically attacked by the father of a CBC member who was subsequently arrested. At the time, the CBC refused to accept that a Black person could get elected to Congress without having a majority-minority district. I testified before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Savannah, Georgia, and the three-judge panel agreed with me that racial gerrymandering is not necessary. Today, most of the growth of the CBC has come from Black members of Congress representing majority-white districts, including two Black women from New England.
School Choice: Democrats exercise their right of school choice for their children yet deny it to their constituents. The NEA’s grip on Democrats prevents school choice programs that would help to desegregate the school districts where many are more segregated today than in the years immediately after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
Division: When Joe Biden served as Vice President, America experienced gridlock second only to the divide during the Civil War. The Affordable Care Act was a major social reform bill that passed without bipartisan support, a manner which was unprecedented and fostered years of anger. Obama-Biden was the first ticket to win re-election but lose the white vote by a landslide of 20 percent. Their victory was brought by a majority of the Hispanic vote and nearly 95 percent of the Black vote.
Democrats talk about having “plans” and about their “fight,” however they have very few real accomplishments that truly make a difference in the lives of the Black community.
Gary Franks served as the U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District from 1991 to 1997. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years, and was New England’s first Black member of the House. He is host of the podcast We Speak Frankly. Follow him @GaryFranks