By Raynard Jackson
I originally had no intention of commenting on the recent controversy surrounding the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) most recent foray into racial politics. But, because of the volume of phone calls and emails asking me to give my take, I have decided to oblige my followers.
Let me state this in the strongest possible terms, the Finance Director, Rob Bickhart (a paid, fulltime staffer) and Finance Chairman, Peter Terpeluk (a non paid volunteer and former ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush) should have immediately been fired and removed from his position, respectively. They are both dead men walking.
The bigger question that I have is, what does Bickhart’s and Terpeluk’s actions say about how they view Michael Steele, the first Black chairman in the party’s history. What type of environment has Steele allowed to fester under his leadership, that his staff would feel comfortable making such a presentation? This is the pressing issue I would love to have the RNC answer.
Does this mean that Bickhart or Terpeluk are racists? I won’t attempt to judge a person’s mind or heart, but there can be no debate that their actions were stupid. These are two very seasoned political operatives who should have known better. This is why they both must go.
This is exhibit “A” in support of diversity. There are no Black staffers in the finance office and probably none on the finance committee. I would like to think if the RNC had some Blacks on staff in this area that those staffers would have objected to such a presentation while it was in the planning stages.
Many whites in the party I spoke with during this controversy attempted to explain it away by stating that the presentation had absolutely no racial connotations and that I (and other Blacks) were being overly sensitive about race. This is a usual retort from Republicans when they have no intelligent defense for their actions.
In a moment of brutal honesty, the presentation detailed how the RNC gets small donors to give. They are motivated by “fear, extreme negative feelings towards existing Administration, Reactionary. Aren’t these the same emotions that were ginned up during the Kennedy/Johnson administration during the height of the Civil Rights Movement that included several assassinations (Kennedy, King, Kennedy, etc.)?
Notice that the presentation didn’t say what these small donors should be afraid of. This is the old Nixonian principle of “plausible deniability.” You don’t expressly state a specific action, but you use euphemisms that are vague and general in nature, but when directed towards a particular group, it carries a specific meaning. For example, if talking to a CIA officer about wanting someone killed, you would say, “exterminate with extreme prejudice, my uncle will probably die next week, or brakes have been malfunctioning on cars lately.” If summoned to court, the person could truthfully state they never told anyone to kill a person. “Plausible deniability.”
So, you motivate small donors to give by fearing a Black president, though it was not stated directly. So, when someone like me challenges the party on issues like this, they try to make me feel like I am hyper-sensitive to race because there was no overt racial verbiage. “Plausible deniability.” What we have here are the great grandchildren of the “Southern Strategy” coming home to roost.
This approach is totally unnecessary because Obama and the Democrats have given Republicans more than enough ammunition to mount a winning campaign strategy for the fall elections. Republicans are in the process of talking themselves out of victory because they can’t stay away from race politics.
In the end, Republicans have nothing to fear but themselves.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).