An African-American Republican activist writes he is leaving the GOP because the Teanuts have turned it into a cesspool of racism and intolerance, and he just can’t pretend it’s the same party anymore:
Over the past two years, we have seen Republicans use long-held racist imagery in portrayals of Obama. The president has been depicted as a communist witch doctor, a man inclined to plant watermelons on the White House lawn, and we watched in disbelief as his face was placed on an “Obama Buck Food Stamp” along with stereotyped pictures of fried chicken, barbecue ribs, Kool-Aid and the obligatory watermelon.
What does any of this have to do with public policy or conservative values? Here is a man who excelled academically at the finest schools in the world, has a wonderful in-tact family, worked hard and rose to become president of the United States. Yet in spite of his accomplishments, the president is still labeled an illegitimate, socialist, African witch doctor and has his face superimposed on a chimpanzee.
If this can be done to a black man who is the leader of the free world, how long will it be before fellow Republicans insert my face on a chimpanzee?
These behaviors also raise larger issues for African Americans and other minority groups within the GOP. How can I look my parents in the eye and tell them I’m a Republican in spite of these offenses? If he were still living, could my Latino father-in-law be proud that his daughter supports the GOP, in spite of the constant anti-Latino rhetoric that comes from the party? Can gay family members reconcile my support of a party that seeks to strip them of their basic human rights?
These are not issues which pit moderate against conservative views, but rather consequential matters which transcend political positioning and speak to universal human values.
I’ve learned a big lesson from Gov. Bill Haslam’s first few months in office. Basically his capitulation to the Neanderthal wing of the GOP on every issue that “speaks to universal human values” tells me that the Republican Party has been completely overtaken by far right extremists. That doesn’t mean I think Haslam is himself a far right extremist but it’s quite clear that you cannot be a Republican and not deliver big things for the party’s racist, homophobic, anti-minority, anti-woman wackadoodles.
I bring this up because I know a lot of people, Democrats, who voted for Haslam because our Democratic candidate was weak and unacceptable. And of all the Republican candidates who slithered out from under the TNGOP rock, Haslam seemed like the least offensive, the most sensible, the least likely to embarrass Tennessee with fringe legislation targeting gays and women and Muslims.
The fact that he hasn’t is proof that there’s just no such thing as a reasonable Republican politician any longer. Even if they may be reasonable people on a personal level, they don’t govern that way — they can’t.
And then I hear from a dear friend, someone who was born in this state, that they are actively looking to leave Tennessee. Why? Because they don’t think this is a good place to raise their child.
That sorta stunned me. Because whatever else that may be wrong with Nashville and Tennessee, one could always say that this was a good place to raise your kids. But I really couldn’t blame them. If I had kids I’m not sure I’d want to stay here, either. I’d be looking for a place that wasn’t quite so narrow-minded, too. I’d want to raise my kids in a place with big ideas, not small ones; a place with accepting and open attitudes, not closed ones.
This is really bad for Tennessee. If people are leaving because we’ve become too small and narrow, eventually people aren’t going to want to come, either. Businesses, creative people, the people with skills and knowledge we need to keep the state moving forward are gonna say “nah, I’ll move to California instead.” I mean, I know I’ve said before that things like HB600 and banning Sharia Law and creating our own currency make the state look bad, but knowing people who are leaving is another thing entirely.
Just as Ken Barnes is leaving the Republican Party because of its increasing intolerance and racism, others will leave, too. Women, folks of the GLBT persuasion, Hispanics, Muslims, and everyone who doesn’t fit into the Republican Party’s narrow, white-male-Evangelical-Christian image it has fashioned for itself — the few of these folks who remain in the GOP fold will feel they can’t look their family members in the eye anymore, too. And states that fashion themselves in this image will lose people and talent, too. It makes sense. As goes the Republican Party, so goes Tennessee.