Black Voters Need to Wake Up

I am a registered Republican. And I'm black.

I'm for civil and equal rights. A raise in minimum wage, I'm for a woman's right to choose an abortion. My switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party was not about ideology but about power.

I looked at the Democratic Party as largely taking my vote for granted because close to 90% of blacks vote Democratic, according to the exit polls from the last five presidential elections. While the black community has delivered for the Democratic party, it has done little to deliver for the black community, which finds itself mired at the bottom rung of just about every statistical category from unemployment rates to incarceration rates.

My party affiliation change came with much thought. It happened during the 2010 mid-term election cycle when the Republican Party was catapulted to success on the coattails of a fractional element calling itself first Teabaggers (until someone told them what that actually meant). The Tea Party Movement changed not only the face of the Republican Party offering up more than 130 candidates for Congress--50% elected to the Senate and 31% to The House. The Tea Party also pushed the Republican Party to the fringes on social issues, in particular.

I wasn't worried about The Tea Party when their biggest star was Sarah Palin. But the more power it gained the more I saw rights eroding. Tea Party-friendly Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito have not only rolled back Affirmative Action, but they also threaten several tenants of the Voting Rights Act, as well as abortion.

I had an epiphany. What if black people switched party affiliations and registered as Republicans? What if the blacks, who were instrumental in 2008 and 2012 in voting Barack Obama into office, showed up for Republican primaries with equal enthusiasm to block bad actors from taking seats in Congress, and State Houses across this country? What if...

In 2012, Barack Obama received a little more than 60 million votes compared to 57 million for Mitt Romney. It was the black vote, which turned out in greater numbers than even in 2008--16.6 million strong--that made the difference for Barack Obama.

Imagine how those 16.6 million voters could impact Republican primary state and local elections throughout the country? Now that would be a power play. That would be a shift this country hasn't seen since the Southern Strategy of the 1960s.

It was behind Richard Nixon that the Republican Party targeted Southern, formerly Confederate states--Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina--by appealing to racist fears and highlighting racial conflict. Their message was so empowering that Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia jumped on the bandwagon as well, delivering the White House to the Republicans.

They offered solutions to this so-called black problem, and it was music to the ears of many of these Southern, white former Democrats who switched parties for their interests.

Blacks can switch parties to force their interests. How poetic would it be more than 50 years after the success of the Southern Strategy for a new strategy to return the Republican Party to its original form--back to The Party of Lincoln.

Can't be done, you say? Well, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Thad Cochran defeated State Senator Chris McDaniel, a surging Tea Party candidate, in a Republican runoff, propelled by a large turnout by black Democrats.

McDaniel said after his defeat: "There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that's decided by liberal Democrats."

Not strange at all. It's called Democracy. Mississippi is an open primary state where a registered voter can vote for whomever they want, regardless of party. But this couldn't happen in Kentucky or even my home state of New Jersey where only those registered to that party can vote. Those two states and 11 others are closed primary states. There are another 15 that are semi-closed, which allow independents to participate.

Why not just register as independent? Because being an independent means you have no power in the primary of at least 26 states. Perhaps you feel you're sending a message by doing that, but now both parties can ignore you. And if you're black that's already happening.

For those who are so emotionally and physically repulsed by what the Republican Party has become and the idea of registering as a Republican would be akin to cutting off your right foot, remember politics is not about emotion, it's about power. We have to stop being mad and upset and feeling neglected and overlooked and start using the ample power we have.

The New York Times this weekend released the contents of a confidential memo by a Democratic pollster that predicted a crushing defeat for Democrats this mid-term election unless the party "did not do more to get black voters to the polls."

How powerful is that "black vote"? Very! So why aren't we using that power? Sending the same people to Washington year in and year out has done little to improve the conditions within the black community.

The unemployment rate for blacks is double that of whites, the income gap between blacks and whites is worse than it was 40 years ago, blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times that of whites, and the high school drop out rate for blacks is double that of whites. All of this under a black president who received our unprecedented support.

Insanity is often defined as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. It's crazy for blacks to continue to support a Democratic Party, which has for half a century taken us for granted, while at the same time applying zero pressure to the other party, essentially letting them off the hook from even trying to woo our vote.

The Party of Lincoln was founded in 1854 with the main purpose of abolishing slavery (not because they felt blacks were equal but to stop the western expansion of slavery for power and economic reasons). The Party of Lincoln is ripe for a resurrection.

The Party of Lincoln was the first to elect a black man to the senate in 1870. It was the party that led the way to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, which ended slavery and gave black men full citizenship and the franchise. It was a Missouri Republican who introduced an anti-lynching bill, Warren Harding, a Republican endorsed.

It was opportunism, not love, which forced Democrats to woo blacks during the Great Migration when northern cities were being flooded with blacks fleeing the south looking for jobs and opportunities.

This is a democracy. Washington is broken and run by corporations (who are now people) and special interests. Washington, and I daresay this country, is void of real leadership, because "we, the people" have failed to hold any of those we send to Washington accountable.

But, yes we can! Before the 2016 elections, blacks, Latinos and left-leaning, right-thinking people of all shades, should register Republican and flip the party. I'm calling the movement: The Party of Lincoln Movement. But I also like the idea of a #GOPblackout2016 as a hashtag.

The only power play is to register as a Republican and to campaign for and force those running to pay attention to your issues. It would immediately put everyone--including the Democrats--on notice.

When they say, "We want our country back!" our reply should be, "We want our party back!"