Guys like Charles Barkley and Stephen A. Smith can be very entertaining--when they stick to sports and leave stuff like race relations, domestic violence, religion and politics alone. You know, things that happen outside of a basketball court or football field...things that really matter.
I get it that both fellows have to maintain somewhat of an edge to remain relevant and interesting...and that they have to be provocative, even controversial to get and maintain viewers and listeners. But some of the insane things they've said when they veer away from sports and sometimes even within the context of sports are enough to make you cringe and wonder, "Who put a microphone in front of that fool?"
Recently, Stephen A., who is known for his loud, in-your-face and "I don't give a damn what you think" style, said during a speech at Vanderbilt University, "What I dream is that for one election, just one, every black person in America votes Republican. Black folks in America are telling one party, ‘We don’t give a damn about you.’ They’re telling the other party, ‘You’ve got our vote.’ Therefore, you have labeled yourself ‘disenfranchised’ because one party knows they’ve got you under their thumb. The other party knows they’ll never get you and nobody comes to address your interest."
Smith is hardly the first, nor will he be the last to peddle that faulty bill of goods that Democrats take the black vote for granted. Obviously, Republicans have written it off. But I take strong issue with the assertion that Democrats/liberals/progressives take black votes for granted and ignore issues the black community cares about. Can Smith or anybody who preaches that line please tell me exactly how Democrats have and are taking black votes for granted? Seems to me that we've gotten excellent return on those votes for a long, long time.
From President Lincoln (yeah I know he was technically a Republican) to FDR to JFK to LBJ to Clinton and of course Obama and it can be rather effectively argued that Democrats/liberals/progressives in the White House and in Congress have made equal rights for African Americans one of their top priorities. So, yes they have responded to black folks' votes and steadfast support in adequate, if not spectacular fashion.
Advancements for poor people, women and people of color have almost all come due to the efforts of Democrats--that says the votes of those groups have been well placed.
In his article "150 Achievements Of Liberalism That Conservatives Seek To Destroy," Stephen D. Foster Jr. came up with an exhaustive list of liberal accomplishments (http://www.addictinginfo.org/...). Here are his top 30:
1. The 40-hour work week
4. Women’s Voting Rights
5. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
6. The right of people of all colors to use schools and facilities
7. Public schools
8. Child-labor laws
9. The right to unionize
10. Health care benefits
11. National Parks
12. National Forests
13. Interstate Highway System
14. GI Bill
15. Labor Laws/Worker’s Rights
16. Marshall Plan
18. Direct election of Senators by the people
19. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Workplace safety laws
20. Social Security
22. The Office of Congressional Ethics. Created in 2008
23. The Internet
24. National Weather Service
25. Product Labeling/Truth in Advertising Laws
26. Rural Electrification/Tennessee Valley Authority
27. Morrill Land Grant Act
28. Public Universities
29. Bank Deposit Insurance
30. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
I'd add The Voting Rights Act, The Clean Water Act, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, eliminating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and student loan reform and pell grant award increases, to his list. And of course, ObamaCare! I could go on and on.
I'm not saying Republicans/conservatives haven't done anything for people of color or women, or the disabled or people in the LGBT community... but I honestly can't think of anything right now. For real.
So to me, for Stephen A. to suggest that anyone black, brown, red, yellow, female, poor, middle-class or non-Christian vote GOP--even once to send some sort of absurd signal--is beyond ludicrous.
I can't speak for all black folks, but I can tell you that I could never and would never in good conscience vote for a party that has literally tried to repeal everything that has benefited women, poor/middle class people and specifically black people since slavery was abolished (at least in theory). Even Barkley who at one time considered running for governor of Alabama as a Republican said in 2006, "The word conservative means discriminatory practically. I was a Republican until they lost their minds."
At least Democrats have tried and continue to try to be inclusive. Not only is that not true of Republicans, the exact opposite can be argued. GOP minority outreach initiatives are non-existent at best, bad jokes at worst. Frankly, other than Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas and Stacy Dash, most black folks see the GOP as a racist organization.
In a March 25, 2015 article published on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...), Earl Ofari Hutchinson made it plain:
There's the endless foot in the mouth, racially insulting gaffes, racially loaded campaign ads by Republican officials and politicians and the refusal by mainstream GOP leaders to loudly condemn them and even defend them. This has continually ignited black fury the last three decades. The fight of House Republicans against the Affordable Care Act, affirmative action, the slash and burn of job and education programs, and the inflammatory attacks on Obama, time and again reaffirmed that the GOP is chock full of bigots.
The flip side of this is that blacks vote Democratic not solely because of GOP reaction and bigotry but simple pragmatism. Most blacks still look to them to fight the tough battles for health care, greater funding for education and job programs, voting rights protections, affirmative action, and against Reagan, Bush Sr., and George W. Bush's draconian cuts in job, education, social service, funding and programs, and their retrograde nominees to the Supreme Court who have done everything possible to roll back the civil rights clock, and peck away at affirmative action, civil rights and civil liberties protections.
The Democratic Party often has been roundly criticized and deserves that criticism for not fully mobilizing and engaging African-American voters in state and local elections and for downplaying their interests at times. But even at its worst the Democratic Party is light years ahead of the GOP in what it has done or will do for black voters.
Stephen A. is telling black folks they need to vote Republican as if that's going to work as some sort of "shock therapy" for the Democrats and some sort of "eye-opener" for Republicans. That's just silly noise from a dude who loves the sound of his own voice.
Most black folks are telling Stephen A. Smith to stick to sports and to get hip to history and the current state of the GOP. The Democratic Party is far from perfect, but the GOP is nuts. Utah just reinstated firing squads and Indiana just passed a law that essentially makes it legal for religious zealots to discriminate against those whose lifestyles they don't agree with. That's what happens when the GOP is in charge.
By and large, most blacks are smart enough and perceptive enough to stick with the Democratic Party. It has produced results over the decades and still appears to be working for the best interests of not only African Americans, but all Americans, while the GOP continually carries the water for big business, the military industrial complex and the rich--not to mention supporting foreign leaders over our own.
Mr. Smith, I'd rather not vote at all than vote for anybody in today's Republican Party. Same for the vast majority of black people and people of other persuasions with good sense I know.
But please Stephen A., please proceed if you choose to do so. Go ahead and make your senseless point by voting for the party that is working hard to pass laws in several states that suppress the right of people like you and me to vote. Go ahead and vote for the party where racists, sexists, homophobes and Islamophobes feel at home. Go ahead and vote for the party that tried to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from being President of the United States of America.
Go right ahead. The only thing you'll likely get for your wasted vote is some Republican somewhere talking privately about how stupid you and any African American is who voted GOP and a false feeling of accomplishment. But what you might get is President Ted Cruz--even if you vote GOP just once.
But, Stephen A., when you get back to talking about who's going to be the NBA MVP or which college basketball team will win March Madness or if AP is going to end up with the Cowboys, holler.