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Restoration Weekend: How the GOP Will Attract Black Voters By: Lindsey Graham
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 08, 2003


The Republican Party has a problem. Our problem has a racial dynamic to it.  Zell Miller is describing Democratic policies that have turned off Southern voters. What he's really telling you is that the Democratic Party has turned off white Southern voters because the facts are that the Democratic Party gets 90-percent-plus of black Southern voters in the South.

The Howard Dean doctrine of how to win over the South, it ain't gonna catch on. One, the way you introduce yourself is, "I'm here to talk to everybody with a pick-up truck and a confederate flag, and I'd like to tell you why you should vote for me."  Number one, very few people have confederate flags and a pick-up truck. And everybody that has a confederate flag is not a racist. Most of us are trying to build up jobs for everybody in the South better than the ones that our parents had, and we're dealing with problems in the South that have been long lingering in a new way, and the new South is the real deal. If I had said, "I can't wait to go to Harlem to try to convert all the people with Malcolm X stickers on their car," people would've thought, "You're crazy, and that's offensive."

I can't wait till Howard Dean goes knocking on what he calls a trailer is a manufactured home.  And he says, "Hello, I'm Howard Dean. I've come to take your tax cut back you've already spent on your kids. I've come to increase the rates when you work overtime. And, by the way, I want to tell you why Ted and Bill ought to be married."  And he's gonna have a hard time of it, trust me.   

Now, if he's the nominee, it'll be like Sherman coming to the South in reverse.  We're going to pick up five Southern seats for the Senate because his view of life is totally contrary to the view of most people where I live, and I think, most people in the country.  He's the perfect French candidate.  He hates Bush, he's against the war, and he's for socialized medicine. Well, he'd kill us in France, but we ain't running in France.  Now, I don't know if he's going to be the nominee or not, but their solution to the problem is not going to work.  Our solution to the problem has to be designed better because our solution to the problem is not working, either.  

I stand up before you as a new Senator from South Carolina, and I consider myself a failure having connected with only 31 percent of my state. I believe that my ideas are better than that, and I've got a problem. And if we don't turn this problem around, not just in the South but in the nation, somebody will be writing a book, The Republican Party: A National Party No More.

Now, how do you do that? You don't reinvent yourself about what you believe.  Nobody likes that. You come up with a way to better convey what you believe. What I've found so astonishing is that when you list down what we believe, in African-American communities, there's a lot of checks by "yeah," until you get to the part that it was a Republican-brought idea. That's the problem.  School choice -- who are we talking about when you give a choice to get out of failing school?  We're talking about minority kids in rural and poor parts of this country.  So the biggest beneficiary of school choice is people who are trapped in poor schools who are disproportionately minorities. Social security reform -- how many people here, if you could, would invest your social security on your own, parts of it?  Everybody.  You know why? You're not stupid.  The reason you would do that is you're getting less than 2-percent return rate.  How many people have the federal government managing your estate?  Nobody. 

Why would you give to the federal government more power than they already have to get you less than 2 percent? If you're an African-American working in South Carolina, the biggest tax you pay is social security tax. If you're an African-American male born after 1980, do you know what your rate of return on social security is? Negative 0.9. So if we can reform Social Security, the beneficiaries of it are not you; it's working people. It's hourly-wage earners. It's people out there who are working in the middle class, in the lower middle class. It's African-American families that are the biggest beneficiary of social security reform. Just look at the numbers.  

Why? Because African-American males don't live as long as white women. The biggest transfer of wealth in the nation is from Social Security taxes paid into the system by African-American males because they never live long enough as a group to get the benefit of their investment. And their money doesn't stay in their family.  It goes into the pot, and the pot rewards white women, because they live longer than everybody else.  

If you sold that policy in the private sector, they would put you in jail.  It's discriminatory.  If you went down through the communities of America offering this policy in the private sector, somebody would sue you because it's discriminatorily designed. And nobody would buy it. "I'm here to take 6 percent of your wages for the rest of your working life, and I can promise you negative 0.9-percent return."  Would you buy it?  

There are some ideas out there that are good for America but very good for African-American families that Republicans own. I went to the South Carolina State football game. It's a state school that's 99-percent African-American. If you've ever gone into a group where you're the different person based on sex or race, there's always a little bit of tension. I would shake people's hands, and they would say to me quietly, "I've got a Republican friend." It happened all over the place. 

And we went out, got out of the booth.  Al Sharpton was there.  You know, Al Sharpton has something in common with me, believe it or not.  He used to be James Brown's manager, and that made James Brown a Republican. James Brown did a fundraiser for me in D.C. two weeks ago, and I raised $100,000 because I will manage James' money better than Al did, and James figured that out. James Brown's going to do an event for me at the New York Convention, our Republican Convention, and you're all invited. 

 

So I’m trying very hard to do things differently, but the bottom line about being happy and being positive is best reflected given the current state of affairs in the Senate. 

 

Is Fred Barnes here still? It may not offend you that Ted Kennedy called his people Neanderthal. It offends the hell out of me. Number one, it's a bad thing to say about anybody. And those of us in politics have a public trust, and kids look at what we do. Bill Clinton didn't think so, but it's true. And I've got to believe that our party got a big lift from Kennedy's actions, because the point he was making is that he just hates people.  And the people he described as Neanderthal deserve better.  If you don't like him, vote against him. 

 

And if a Democratic president sends somebody to the Senate that I don't politically like, I'm not going to call him bad names. I wasn't raised that way, and Zell Miller, neither were you. And the truth is that Ted Kennedy thinks they're Neanderthal because they're conservative.

 

Let me tell you briefly why I don't think the president's judicial appointments are Neanderthals. 

 

Justice Brown, an African-American, is Justice on the California Supreme Court, but she grew up in Greenville, Alabama. Like many people throughout this country who  grew up hard and made something of themselves, Norm came from a family of eight kids. And I’m the first person in my family to go to college.  

 

But bottom line is that Justice Brown is not a Neanderthal person, and if I had called her one, as Fred Barnes pointed out, I'd have paid holy hell -- and I should have. Brown received 76 percent of the vote in California. You can say what you want to about California, but it is not a hotbed of Republican activists. Arnold is their governor, and he is definitely not a right-wing nut. Seventy-six percent of the people put their trust in her by giving her a vote. Kennedy's criticism of her falls in the face of a lifetime of achievement. What he did by saying that, he's demeaned everything she did going from Greenville, Alabama to the California Supreme Court, and he ought to pay a price for saying that.

 

Of all the abuses that have gone on on the floor of the Senate during this attack on our President Bush's nominees, to me, Charles Pickering's is the worst. I'm going to tell you a little bit about what it's like to grow up in the South. They've attacked that man every way you can attack him, and Norm and I got a hold of a Jon Corzine e-mail that I wish I had with you that was designed to raise money.  And it said, "Democrats stand up for the courts," and what they said about this man was just absolutely horrible. They claimed Pickering wrote an article in law school when he was in Mississippi supporting an interracial marriage ban. That's a lie. They claimed when he served in 1970s in the State Senate in Mississippi, he fought to roll back the Civil Rights Act. That's a lie. They claim Pickering was sympathetic to a cross-burning case in 1994 and reduced the man's sentence. That's a lie. This same Judge Pickering was confirmed by the United States Senate unanimously 10 years ago. So are you telling me that they put somebody on the bench unanimously who did these reprehensible things? It is a lie. 

 

The 1994 case is a total distortion of what actually happened. There were three people who engaged in cross burning. Two of them got probation. The young guy sitting in the truck, the prosecutor charged with arson, and the judge asked why one person was singled out to go to jail, when the other two were not. He said, "That's not right. These two guys should go to jail, too, but I can't effect that. We're going to look at the kid's sentence and readjust it." He went to jail, and let me tell you the speech that the judge gave the young man before him sent him to jail would have made you proud.

 

Let me tell you about 1967 and Judge Pickering. In 1967, he was a prosecutor elected from his home county. He testified in federal court as a witness for the prosecution against the imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi. Not only is that a bold political thing to have done in 1967; he's probably lucky to be alive. He got a conviction, and he lost his race. We should be building monuments to him, not calling him a Neanderthal. 

 

The last thing I would say about Judge Pickering is that he is definitely qualified for the office. He was voted well qualified by the American Bar Association. The ABA would never put a racist on the Court, and yet Pickering received the highest rating you can get from the American Bar Association. 

 

But here's the most personal of all the stories. In 1967, I was in the sixth grade. Public schools were integrating in South Carolina and throughout the South. I had never gone to school with a black kid until 1967. And I can remember that first day going back in the new school year, and I think there were five or six African-American kids in my class. Things were tense at first, but everything turned out fine over time. Segregation was just a terrible institution, and I'm so glad it's over. But I’m a 48-year-old man now, and I have an understanding of what those African-American children's parents must have felt like. Can you imagine you being the parent of those five kids, knowing that there's a lot of emotion out there and it's your child who's about to be at the center of the fight? They were very brave. They had to be worried to death. They did the right thing, and we're all better for it.

 

Let's go to Mississippi in 1967. It was worse there than it was South Carolina. Integration comes to Mississippi. It comes to Charles Pickering's county, a very tough time. Charles Pickering makes a public speech:  "We need to end segregation. This will make us all better." White flight was the normal way of reacting to desegregation. Most white parents took their kids out of public schools in that county. There were only a handful of white kids left in a lot of schools. Among the handful were all of Judge Pickering's children. So when you look at photos of grade-school children in that county in the late '60s and the early '70s, you're going to see a lot of African-American kids with a few white faces. Almost all those white faces were Judge Pickering's kids. 

 

We're in 2003. Our friends on the other side want power so much and want their way so badly that no slander is out of bounds. We're going to keep talking about this, and we're going to fight back.  e're going to stand up for him. And at the end of the day, the American people are going to be with us. God bless you.




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