Rand Paul Must Think Blacks Have Amnesia

During his Howard University speech, the senator failed to mention the GOP's racially divisive past.

Rand Paul (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Rand Paul (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(The Root) — So now we know the basis of Kentucky’s libertarian Sen. Rand Paul’s strategy for expanding the Republican Party’s appeal to African Americans: amnesia.

That’s the only conclusion I can reach after watching the C-SPAN broadcast of Paul’s 52-minute appearance today at Howard University. He deserves credit for appearing before a potentially hostile audience to make the case for conservative policies with which most black voters utterly disagree. But he also deserves strong criticism — even derision — for pretending that there’s any mystery about why most black folks are so skeptical about the GOP. He wants us to forget the party’s recent history — and his own.

So in his speech today, he asked, “How did the party that elected the first black U.S. senator, the party that elected the first 20 African-American congressmen, become a party that now loses 95 percent of the black vote? How did the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator, lose the trust and faith of an entire race?”

He went on to argue that blacks began to switch their long-standing allegiance from Republicans to Democrats during the Great Depression. “The Democrats promised equalizing outcomes through unlimited federal assistance, while Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible: the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets,” Paul argued.

“Now, Republicans face a daunting task,” he continued. “Several generations of black voters have never voted Republican and are not very open to even considering the option. Democrats still promise unlimited federal assistance, and Republicans promise free markets, low taxes and less regulations that we believe will create more jobs.”