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gop.com’s neglect of history

October 14, 2009

gop facesFar be it for me to craft any learned commentary on the problems that the new RNC website is having — that’s already been done to devastating effect — although on first glance, I think the design is actually pretty cool since it eschews all the usual waving-flag and crazy red fonts of yesteryear.  That said, I was glancing through the “Republican Accomplishments” section, and I noticed that there was a huge gap from 1957 to 1972, missing the 1960’s, Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, etc., etc.

Why?  maybe because of events like the 1964 Goldwater convention (as recounted in Jackie Robinson’s autobiography, I Never Had It Made):

I felt the GOP was a minority party in term of numbers of registered voters and could not win unless they updated their social philosophy and sponsored candidates and principles to attract the young, the black, and the independent voter.  I said this often from public, and frequently Republican, platforms…

It was a terrible hour for the relatively few black delegates who were present.  Distinguished in their communities, identified with the cause of Republicanism, an extremely unpopular cause among blacks, they had been served notice that the party they had fought for considered them just another bunch of “niggers”.  They had no real standing in the convention, no clout.  They were unimportant and ignored.  One bigot from one of the Deep South states actually threw acid on a black delegate’s suit jacket and burned it.  Another one, from the Alabama delegation where I was standing at the time of the Rockefeller speech, turned on me menacingly while I was shouting “C’mon Rocky” as the governor stood his ground.  He started up in his seat as if to come after me.  His wife grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“Turn him loose, lady, turn him loose,” I shouted.

I was ready for him.  I wanted him badly, but luckily for him he obeyed his wife.

Obviously, gop.org is a partisan website, and they should be able to interpret history through whatever partisan lens they see fit.  However, it would do the GOP (and the Democratic party, by the way) a lot of good not to try to whitewash party history, but rather to confront problems head-on rather than to duck them.  This critical self-examination would probably attract more viewers to the website — beyond the already-converted.  It might also give the so-called undecideds a reason to give the party a second look.

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