I registered 58 years ago as a Republican and 27 years later I switched my registration to the Democratic Party. Over the years I have witnessed the evolution of the parties as they relate to the Black voters in particular and I can truthfully state, “I left nothing and went to nothing.”
To a large degree Black voters have contributed to their dismal situation by allowing themselves to be taken for granted by the Democratic Party. Allow me to remind some of us of our situation. Democrats don’t care because they believe Blacks will vote for them regardless and Republicans make no serious overtures, because they believe Blacks are going to vote straight Democrat no matter what you say or do.
I have heard Blacks state they hate any Republican Black or White. Last week in the gas station a Black man said to me how despicable and stupid he thought Condoleezza Rice was solely because she is Republican. It is this kind of non-thinking that has been detrimental to Blacks in the current political process.
There are Blacks who are educated, who will state how good Democrats have been to Black people and we should remain totally loyal to them forever. Ask yourself is Pittsburgh truly the city of someplace special for all people or just certain people? One party has controlled Pittsburgh, Democrats, for almost 100 years. Look around and ask yourself has it been really beneficial to you or yours?
One of the real tragedies is that the Republican Party and Black voters have not availed themselves of the potential to make some meaningful political alliances that would be beneficial to both. Black voters left the political reservation, (Democratic Party) in 1996 and voted for Larry Dunn and Bob Cramner and it was the most productive political four years for Black voters in the history of Allegheny County. Blacks received contracts, and appointments that were historic and have never been duplicated.
There are those political pundits, who describe political parties and certain individuals as liberal and conservative and it is laughable, because too frequently they are one and the same. One of the greatest examples was former President Richard M. Nixon, who was described as a conservative—that generally signifies that he was anti-Black. Allow me to list some major pieces of legislation passed by President Nixon that refutes that definition of being a conservative. President Nixon was the founder of affirmative action, Black capitalism and was the first U.S. president to include Black colleges in the national budget.
Which of the Democratic Pittsburgh mayors based on their actions toward improving the quality of life of Black Pittsburghers would you describe as liberals over the last 75 years? Republicans Larry Dunn and Bob Cramner were definitely conservatives but their positive actions that contributed to improving the life style of Black voters have never been equaled.
I definitely am not angry, surprised or disillusioned by the actions or lack thereof by either political party. However, I do challenge those voters who do not seek to become a sophisticated voter to begin to learn the issues and cease being a dyed in the wool any political party and make the politicians earn your votes.
In conclusion I hear voters constantly being critical of those who are candidates for office and my usual response is why don’t you run for an office.
Once again I am requesting your financial support for Kingsley Association.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum page.)