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Virginia’s Election Should Serve as a Wakeup Call For Republicans
November 21 – December 4, 2019
raynard jackson

Virginia has had its 2019 state legislative races.  Republicans got their heads handed to them on a silver platter.  Democrats now have a majority in the state legislature for the first time in almost 30 years; and they also have the governor’s seat.

Virginia used to be a solid red, Republican state.  Now, Virginia is the proverbial canary in the coalmine for the state and national Republican Party.

I moved to Virginia in 1989.  I came from St. Louis to be part of the incoming George H.W. Bush presidential administration.

I used to be very involved in the state Republican Party and the various Republican campaigns.  As a matter of fact, I was the first and only Black to be elected national committeeman for the Young Republicans of Virginia.  This was a statewide elected office.

I worked with Republican governors such as George Allen, Jim Gilmore, and Bob McDonald; lieutenant governors such as John Hager, and attorney generals such as Mark Early.  These elected officials all had a great understanding about the necessity of expanding the base of the Republican Party, both state and national.

Their campaign and official staffs reflected the demographic makeup of Virginia.  We had an active, functioning state party.  Because these office holders all valued diversity, we were able to take control of both chambers of the legislature.

In January of 2014, we lost every state-wide office to the Democrats.  We still had a very slim majority in the state legislature until last month when the Democrats took outright control. Democrats now control the governor's seat and they have total control of the state government for the first time since 1993.

Virginia is a wakeup call to both our state and national party.  Far too many of the party’s leadership have bought into this idiotic “White turnout” approach to elections across the country.  This approach simply says:  focus on White turnout and depress the turnout within the Black community by going negative.

I never have and never will agree with this approach to politics. If conservatives really believe in their message, they would have enough faith to believe that their message will resonate with every voter.  If conservatives really believed in their message, they will take it to the marketplace of ideas throughout America.

Our country is becoming more diverse with each passing day; but Republican staffs seem to be getting Whiter.  Until our party views diversity as an asset to be celebrated, and not as a burden to bear, we will continue to lose state and national elections.

Our country is becoming more diverse with each passing day; but Republican staffs seem to be getting Whiter.
On another note, far too often Republicans hire Blacks in the political arena who they would never hire in their in-his-hands sector companies.  Message to Republicans:  If you would not hire a person to work in your in-his-hands sector company, then don’t hire them to work within the party.

Memo to Republicans:  Hiring a Black is not the same as hiring the right Black for your staff.  Far too frequently Republicans hire Blacks as race insurance.  I have a Black on my staff; therefore, I can’t be a racist the thinking goes.

Most of the Black staffers I see have little to no ties to the Black community; and many don’t have the necessary skill set for the job they are hired for. Republicans tend to hire Blacks they are comfortable with, at the expense of someone who knows what the hell they are doing.

Virginia should serve as a wakeup call to Republicans all across the country.  We can no longer afford to be the White party.  We must begin to reflect the true makeup of America. When you look at the Republican Party, you should see America 2019, not America 1950.

I am committed to helping the party become more like America.  The easiest thing for me to do is to leave the party, but that’s not happening. If I want to see changes to the Republican Party, I must provide them with the solution I am seeking, not just leave the party as so many have done. I am going to continue to be what I am looking for.

Note: Raynard Jackson is the founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future
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