Maryland Tactics Enhance Blacks' "Distrust"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Maryland Tactics Enhance Blacks' "Distrust"

Remember last year when Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for his party’s history of "trying to benefit politically from racial polarization"?

Remember this summer when President Bush spoke to the NAACP convention and said that "racism still lingers in America" and that he understood "that many African-Americans distrust my political party”?

Both of them wanted America — especially blacks — to believe that the Republican Party was ready to abandon the political tactics that insult or degrade black voters. But Election Day tactics in Maryland will give plenty of black voters new reasons to distrust the Republican Party.

Relatively few Americans know about the highly deceptive fliers that were distributed to Maryland voters in heavily black precincts by the campaigns of GOP candidates Robert Ehrlich and Michael Steele. Both men lost their bids for office.

As the Washington Post explained a few days ago:
... (details) suggest the fliers, and the people paid to distribute them, were not part of a hurry-up effort but a calculated strategy. Republican leaders have defended the Election Day episode as an accepted element of bare-knuckle politics.
It has been a full week since this outrageous incident, and neither Ehrlich nor Steele (who happens to be black) has fully addressed the degree to which he knew or approved of these deceptive fliers.

The GOP can continue to recruit black candidates and talk about being the "party of Lincoln," but isn't it telling that the best icon the Republicans can offer to defend their civil rights record (or lack thereof) is a president who has been dead for 141 years?

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