Saturday, September 22, 2007

OPINION: The "Whites-Only" Sign on The GOP's "Big Tent"

Vernon Jordan: The candidates for the Republican party's presidential nod are building quite a track record--of snubbing prospective voters. This week the four leading candidates--Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani and John McCain--added the PBS-sponsored debate at Baltimore's historically-black Morgan State University to their "I'll-pass" list. That list now includes the National Urban League, Univision, the Spanish-language television network, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It's getting to be a long list.

But perhaps it's those of us who are dismayed by these displays of camapign cowardice that just don't get it.

Perhaps the GOP candidates are following the same script the Bush administration has used for governance: be irresponsible.

Or perhaps, they're developing a new paradigm for how a political party contests elections. Perhaps they want to test that you actually improve your chances of winning by snubbing entire groups of voters, and that in a nation whose voting pool is becoming more and more diverse, you make it clear you want just the votes of whites.

Republicans love to talk about Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, presidents whom they hold up as having met the tests of greatness. Is this what Abraham Lincoln would do? Is this what Ronald Reagan would do?

Republicans also used to talk about their welcoming all Americans into the party of the "big tent." But actions speak louder than words. The actions of the Republican candidates make it clear the big tent has a whites-only sign over the entrance.

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