Former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has urged African Americans to leave the Democratic Party and join the GOP, according to news reports. In a speech at the National Press Club, Perry said Black families stood a better chance of achieving economic independence if they voted for Republicans.
“Perry used his first major economic policy speech to detail his belief that his party, not the Democrats, is offering African Americans the best chance to achieve the American dream, even as he forcefully scolded his colleagues in the GOP for abandoning the demographic that has overwhelmingly voted Democrat for decades,” reported Bloomberg.
Perry also said Black voters should abandon the Democratic Party because they failed to solve their economic problems.
“‘Why is it today so many Black families feel left behind?’ he asked, pointing out that approximately one in four African Americans live under the poverty line and that number has increased under Obama,” said Bloomberg. “‘Democrats have long had the opportunity to govern the African American communities. It is time for Black families to hold them accountable for the results.’”
Although Perry’s speech was supposed to focus on economic issues, he also touched on the country’s history of racial violence, the Confederate flag and the Republican Party’s frayed relationship with the Black community. Perry chided Republicans for giving up on African Americans voters.
“‘Republicans have a lot to do to earn the trust of African Americans,’ said the former Texas governor, an acknowledgment of the party’s ‘southern strategy’ that dates from the 1970s and aimed to build a winning coalition by appealing to white voters who were alienated by the Democratic Party’s championing of civil rights,” Bloomberg said.
Perry, one of 14 candidates currently seeking the Republican nomination, was brave to even bring up the topic of race. Republicans seem to be afraid to talk about racial issues or admit the country still has a problem with racism. After the recent Charleston, S.C. church massacre, where white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine Black churchgoers, Republican presidential candidates tied themselves in knots to avoid confronting the issue. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush first said he couldn’t tell why Roof committed the crime and former Sen. Rick Santorum initially said the shooting was an attack on Christians, not Black people. Even Perry first said the attack was an “accident,” before later backtracking and calling it a hate crime.
Perry has some racial controversies in his past. When he was running for president in 2012, it was revealed his family owned a property called “The Niggerhead Ranch.” The ranch’s name was painted on bold letters at its residence until the late 1990s, according to The Daily Kos.
Perry is not the first Republican to try to reach out to African American voters. Sen. Rand Paul, another Republican 2016 presidential candidate, has also made a concerted effort to appeal to Black voters by speaking at HBCUs and discussing the effects of harsh drug sentencing. But, like Perry, Paul has a questionable racial past. He fired two staff members because of their white supremacist and neo-Confederate views. Paul also once criticized aspects of the Civil Rights Act, saying the government shouldn’t have the right to tell private business owners who they can let into their establishments. And more recently, Paul met with Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher involved in an armed standoff with federal agents over unpaid grazing fees. Bundy was seen as an anti-government hero among Republicans, until he said Black people were better off being slaves, instead of living on welfare.