I see an America where all our children are taught the basic skills they need to live up to their God-given potential. I see an America where every citizen owns a stake in the future of our country, and where a growing economy creates jobs and opportunity for everyone. I see an America where most troubled neighborhoods become safe places of kinship and community. I see an America where every person of every race has the opportunity to strive for a better future and to take part of the promise of America. That’s what I see. And I believe the government has a role to play in helping people gain the tools they need to build lives of dignity and purpose. That’s at the heart of what I call compassionate conservatism.
Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican Chairman to tell you we were wrong.
Mehlman asked black voters to “take another look at the party of Lincoln.” OK, let’s take another look-see.
Mehlman noted that Bush received “70% more African American votes than in 2000.” Bush’s 11 percent share of the black vote is just a notch better than the 10 percent that Bush I garnered in 1988 and 1992. By contrast, Bob Dole got 12 percent black support in 1996 despite channeling Marion Barry and snarling that the NAACP was trying to set him up.
Bush has spent $180 billion and counting on the Iraq war, which blacks have opposed from Day One. They see that there’s money for war but no money for education. It has not gone unnoticed that Republicans are leading the rebellion (and here) against Bush's signature education program.
Bush wants to privatize Social Security, a program that has “ensured that minority households have adequate income in retirement.” After giving Bush’s risky scheme another look, Republicans are heading for the tall grass.
Arguably, Bush’s own appointees don’t believe that he has black folks' backs. The Republican-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently held a hearing on “stagnation in the growth of America’s Black Middle Class.”
Mehlman is right. Seeing is believing and folks don’t believe what they see coming out of this White House.