13 January 2004

Talk is Cheap

A poor man was going door to door asking for money. He stopped at the first house on the block and knocked. The door opened and a man looked out at his visitor. The poor man looked down at his shoes and asked for a few dollars. The homeowner reached into his pocket and handed the man on the porch a twenty dollar bill then closed the door.

The poor man walked over to the next house and knocked on the door. The door opened and before he knew it, the poor man was sitting on the living room couch. This homeowner asked him about his life and his family and the two men found themselves in a conversation. Finally after an hour, the homeowner walked the man to the door and handed him two dollars.

The question must be asked: Which homeowner is the better person? The answer is the first one. Life comes down to action. Talk is cheap.

The issue of race was raised this past week during the Brown and Black Forum, the last debate before the Iowa Democratic caucus. Candidate Al Sharpton criticized Howard Dean for not having any Black or Hispanic people in his cabinet while being a six-term governor of Vermont. Sharpton said to Dean, “It seems that you discovered blacks and browns during this campaign...if you want to lecture people on race, you want to have the background and track record in order to do that.” (newsmax.com/cgi-bin/printer_friendly.pl?page=http://newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/1/12/95659.shtml)

Al Sharpton has hit the nail on the head. In order for someone to have credibility in a subject, they have to have a good track record. The same holds for political parties. If they are going to have credibility, there needs to have been action in the past. We need to follow the two major political parties historically to see what action they have taken to move civil rights forward.

Beginning way back with the first Republican president Abraham Lincoln, we know that while the Civil War was not initially fought to free the slaves, freeing the slaves became the rallying cry for the North. After the War, Reconstruction of the South became a new battleground. This meant that former slaves needed to be integrated into society, and the former Confederacy needed to be integrated back into the Union - not an easy process.

The Republican Party became the party for the freed slaves. The Republican Congress of the time passed the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitutions, declaring that Blacks were now a free people and official citizens of the United States whose right to “vote shall not be denied or abridged...on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude (15th Amendment).”

The problems enforcing these new Amendments came from the Democrats. Violence was rampant in the South, and the federal government was unable to stop it. Once the Democrats took a solid hold on the South, it was all over for Black equality. (www.bbc.co.uk/history/society_culture/protest_reform/civil_rights_reconstruction_print.html)

Let’s skip ahead. We see from the voting records that since 1933 Republicans have had a more positive record on Civil Rights than the Democrats. “In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.” (www.congresslink.org/civil/essay.html and www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1982/3/82.03.04.x.html)

Moving into the 1960s. Democratic President John Kennedy only became interested in civil rights after realizing the country was behind the idea of equality, and not before. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was only passed with the help of the Republicans. House Republicans voted for this Act 138 to 34. Democrats supported it 152-96. Republicans were in favor of this bill in a higher proportion than the Democrats. (newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/12/13/194350.shtml)

According to Jon Kyl, an Arizona senator, quoting a former New York Times columnist, the Republican Nixon administration had “accomplished more in 1970 to desegregate Southern school systems than had been done in the 16 previous years, or probably since.” In addition, the Reagan administration was supportive and pushed for different ways to attract business to the inner cities. (http://truthnews.com/world/2003010033.htm).

Our current President has moved along the same lines. President Bush’s cabinet is the face of America. He has Black, as well as Japanese, Chinese and Arab Cabinet members. In fact, the face that the United States shows to the World is Black. Secretary of State General Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

The point here is simple. When deciding who to vote for this November don’t vote blindly. Look into each candidate and the party they represent. Remember, just because they talk the talk doesn’t mean anything. We know that talk is cheap.

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