As in the administrations of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, black America has heavily supported the Democratic Party, both nationally and locally. In 1976, 94 percent of all black Americans who voted, voted for the provincial former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter.
Black folks thought that because Mr. Carter had Southern background, had eaten grits and collard greens, and worked alongside the field hands, he could probably empathize more with black folks than any other president of modern times. They saw him as the man who had dealt with their problems in Georgia and had high hopes for him on a national scale. They saw growth in Jimmy Carter; they thought that this allegedly enlightened Southerner would be able to make things happen -- not for the pseudo- intellectuals, but for the masses. He talked about opening up new opportunities for the disenfranchised, and black folks thought he meant them.
Obviously, once again, a mistake has been made. Mr. Carter has not picked up the gauntlet for the socially and economically deprived minorities. Indeed, he has failed the country. Like many of the great and not- so-great who preceded him, he underestimated the complexities he was called upon to deal with. He soon found out that the dynamics of fifty sovereign entities, their enormous woes and factual disputes, made for an entirely new ball game. Policies which worked for a single state, under a certain set of circumstances, failed the acid test of workability for the country as a whole.
What can black America do? Obviously, this writer is not going to ask blacks not to vote; we must take part in the political process. That is the only way we are going to achieve even a piece of the pie.The economic downturn must be reversed. We must take part in the political process, which will accomplish it.
I would ask my fellow black Americans: "Why are we tied to one party?" We must reawaken the concept of a two-party system in Massachusetts; indeed, in these United States. This nation, as we enter the last two decades of this century, faces a crucial rebuilding process in the wide, political arena.
I would suggest that we return to a viable, two-party system. Both parties should express ideals and principles that reflect a real concern and interest in improving the conditions of life for all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or color. Conversely, more black Americans must begin to achieve full participation in the growth and decisionmaking process of both parties if we are to survive in a meaningful way.
I would think that it is crucial for the Republican Party to address the interests and concerns of all black Americans in trying to formulate a sound, domestic policy. Higher priority must be given to the issues that are of greatest importance to blacks throughout the country. These concerns are bread and butter issues -- economics, education, employment. We are concerned with energy, housing, and all human services.
We must develop harmonious and productive relationships, if you will, between the black communities and the Republican Party. I have been attending meetings across the country, and I see a reawakening of Republicans -- white and black -- a renewed sense of reality about programs that will or will not work. These are the kinds of things a revitalized Republican Party can bring to our country and to oppressed minorities all over the length and breadth of the United States.
I would say to Americans, regardless of their economic position, to get involved and not become captives of one party. If progress is to be made, we must align ourselves with people who are concerned with our innermost problems. And over the past four years, I can honestly say that Jimmy Carter is not listening. He has been sent messages from time to time, but obviously he does not hear the knock at the door. The next knock he will hear will be the Supreme Court Justice swearing in the next president of the United States, and he will be a Republican!