WWW Opinion Times

Monday, December 06, 2004

Mfume Booted from NAACP For Reaching Out to Republicans

According to Armstrong Williams, Kweisi Mfume was fired from the NAACP because of attempts to reach out to Republicans, specifically his push to nominate Condoleeza Rice for the 2003 NAACP "Image Award." This instigated a harsh disagreement between Mfume and Chairman Julian Bond.
The rift grew as Mfume continued to reach out to the Republican Party. Mfume realized that by reflexively voting Democrat in every election, the black voting populace has given away most of their political bartering power. After all, what incentive is there for either party to go out on a limb for blacks, if it is taken for granted that blacks will automatically vote Democrat? In effect, the black voting populace has created conditions that make it very easy for both parties to take them for granted. Mfume rightly reasoned that by reaching out to the Republican Party on issues that they already agree with -- like empowering faith based charities, supporting school vouchers, etc. -- the black voting populace can send the message that they’re no longer willing to blindly support the Democrats.

This is interesting news. Mfume has consistently been a major thorn in the side of Republicans both as a Congressman from Maryland in the 90's when he led the Black Congressional Caucus and in his early years as head of the nations oldest black minority organization. He was always a liberal partisan who would not compromise at all with Republicans even on issues important to the black community. But according to Williams this was changing in light of the increasing reality that the Democrat Party has taken the black community for granted and not addressed issue important to them.
During a 2003 appearance at the National Press Club, Bond referred to the Republican Party as “a crazed swarm of right wing locusts” that have sought to “subvert, ignore, defy and destroy the laws that require an America which is bias-free,” Later that night Bond dubbed the Republicans, "the white people's party."

Following the event, Mfume confronted Bond with his fear that the organization had become too outwardly political. Soon thereafter, the IRS launched investigation into whether Bond’s remarks violated the organization’s tax exempt status.

The final tear came after the election. Mfume suggested sending a letter to President Bush, mapping out ways that they could work together to help the community. Bond rejected the idea. Mfume sent the letter anyway. To Bond, this was an unforgivable. A few weeks later, Bond had Mfume voted out.

This is bad news for the NAACP which had become a solid organization under Mfume financially and organizationally sound. It will likely continue its irrational criticism of Republican policies. But in light of the recent election, it may marginalize itself from a new generation of black leaders who though not fully conservative on Republican standards are ready to find an advocate in conservative methods of changing the business and social climate of the inner-city.

Outside the Beltway has more.