Former Alabama representative Artur Davis addressed the NRI summit in Washington yesterday, emphasizing the importance of Republicans communicating effectively with middle- and lower-middle-class voters, particularly on issues such as education.
I asked him for his take on Colin Powell’s assertion that “a dark vein of intolerance” toward minorities runs through some parts of the Republican party, and how he suggests responding to the frequently leveled charge that the GOP fields “token” minority candidates.
“General Powell is exactly right that we continue to have a problem with race in American life,” Davis said, “but that doesn’t have to do with political party, that has to do with the lingering remnants of racism and how long a struggle we’ve had to overcome race. That’s a challenge we have as Americans, not a special challenge Republicans have.” Davis advised Republicans “to get in the trenches and be with Republicans and talk about how we can strengthen the party” rather than to “distance [themselves] from the party and talk about all the things the party is doing wrong,” though he acknowledged the party certainly is making mistakes.
The charge that the GOP recruits, appoints, and elects token candidates was most recently leveled when South Carolina governor Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to fill Jim DeMint’s Senate seat. “People are too busy to be tokenistic in their votes,” Davis said. “People cast their votes because they have a sense of who will serve their interests and their lives better.”