When the most one of the most prominent African-Americans in your party tells you that a guy has a disturbing racial history, you ought to listen, not rebuke him. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) understands the strategy used by Jesse Helms and the Republican Party to suppress black voters in the 1980s and 1990s. Raleigh attorney Thomas Farr was part of the machinery that carried it out and has consistently supported measures that make it more difficult for older African-Americans to vote.
Your letter asking Sen. Scott to reconsider holding up Farr’s nomination to the federal bench is the racial equivalent of mansplaining—a bunch of white guys who dismiss racist tactics as political ones. Sen. Scott is a reliably conservative vote and voice in the US Senate. He’s trying desperately to be the conscience of the Republican Party on matters of race. Unfortunately, your response to him just reinforces the notion that members of the GOP don’t grasp the implications of racist behavior on the African-American community, especially in the South.
Your letter also explains why you continue to push racially divisive legislation like voter suppression bills and the defense of Confederate monuments. You either can’t comprehend or don’t care about the message your policies and tactics send to the African-American community. Your lack of empathy for people of differing racial and ethnic backgrounds has you quickly becoming an all-white party in an increasingly diverse nation.
You should listen to Tim Scott. Dumping Thomas Farr as a judicial nominee is a small price pay toward showing black citizens that you understand their history. It would also be a first step toward the type of reconciliation you’ll need to attract more minorities to your party.
Much of the conservative political philosophy could appeal to African-Americans, Hispanics and immigrants but your insistence in holding onto and defending racist attitudes damages your ability to attract them. To overcome the negative image, you need to admit and rebuke your recent past instead of constantly pointing out that 100 years ago, Democrats were the party of white supremacy. Your denial just reinforces doubts about your motives on issues that involve minorities.
In a democracy like ours, we need a healthy conservative party. We don’t need a racist one. Listen to Senator Scott, don’t scold him. He’s right and you are very clearly wrong.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >