|What if Mitt Romney chooses Condoleezza Rice as his running mate?|
Jean H. Charles
Published: Aug 04, 2012
In November, the people of America will go to the polls to choose either a new president or continue with the same one, in the persona of Barack Obama. While Obama belongs to the Democratic Party, Mitt Romney, his challenger, belongs to the Republican Party.
A cursory review of the two-term presidents of the Democratic Party will indicate that the only Democratic president that has succeeded since Harry Truman (1953) to be re-elected to a second term, has been Bill Clinton, who is still the Cardinal Richelieu of the party.
It seems the American people have been more inclined to confer a second term to their Republican presidents (Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, albeit short-circuited by Watergate, and George W. Bush) than to their Democratic ones (Jimmy Carter).
In the spirit of full disclosure, if I was an American, I would be a Republican. This statement could cause ire amongst my brethren since I am black and an immigrant, the Democratic Party being the repository of a large segment of the black American and immigrant population.
This choice may not be visceral but it is cerebral. Mitt Romney told a polite crowd of the NAACP in Houston, Texas, give me your vote and you will see which one of us (Barack Obama or myself) will do more for the black population.
This question has been the story of the United States since the creation of the Grand Old Party; the party of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party that pushed forward the issue of black emancipation into the American consciousness.
Where the party came from
The Republican Party is an outshoot of the Democratic Party, from members who in 1854 were dissatisfied with the way the issue of slavery was being treated by the Democratic Party. These men and women from the Republican Party considered domestic slavery of black people in the Southern States “as a moral, social and political wrong that affects the existence of the whole nation”.
The United States should be true to its credo enshrined by Thomas Jefferson in the motto “all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights”. “The slave systems of the slave states have enslaved masters and slaves.”
To put forward that philosophy and this new concept of thinking, the Republican Party had chosen a brash lawyer in the persona of Abraham Lincoln, who did receive some help from a self-taught black man, Frederick Douglass, to build the nation in the spirit that later (1888) the French philosopher Ernest Renan would call an entity with the shared vision of its glorious past and the common vision of building together the future.
In the opposite faction, the Democratic Party, the choice had fallen upon another Douglas under the name of Stephen Douglas to defend the old concept that states should decide on their own whether black people should remain in slavery in their territory.
In some memorable debates that are still the subject of several literary productions today, Abraham Lincoln demonstrated to the people of the United States that it was preferable to go to war amongst the states to unite the country than to let the southern states have their way in maintaining the system of slavery in whole or part of the country.
Abraham Lincoln won the debate and the election. The United States went to war against the rebelling southern states, and the black emancipation of 1864 as well as the reunification of the country was the result.
There is a debate today put in book and in theatrical production by Professor Stephen Carter of Harvard University: What if Abraham Lincoln had survived to his bullet wounds? Indeed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln some two years after the end of the Civil War had put a damper on the concept of nation building undertaken by the Republican Party.
For the next 100 years, the concept of pushing forward those who were left behind had not been a fully engaged governmental priority although it was still supported willy-nilly by the Republican Party.
The black population entered into a de facto divorce with the Republican Party around 1952 with the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who opposed the civil rights legislations proposed by the now more liberal Democrats, who later found their champion in the persona of John F. Kennedy.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy did not stop the movement that found a leader in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He had been able to convince Kennedy’s successor, the southern Lyndon Johnson, that the cause of leaving no one behind was right, he should be also his fierce champion. Johnson did achieve and consolidate the dream of the emancipation laid down one century earlier.
Now the debate is whether the United States can achieve the giant leap forward demonstrated by the Chinese for their peasant population in bringing in one generation some one billion downtrodden into the middle class status.
The black and immigrant population is only 50 million out of a national population of 311 million people. Should not the United States with all its resources, its might and its knowledge, transform the lives of that segment of the population in two generations? The year 2014 will bring the civil rights movement to the mature age of 50 years old.
The black and immigrant population has been expecting much from both parties; which one has the guts to undertake major inroads that will transform with sustenance the lives of that segment of the population? It was under the Republican presidency of Ronald Reagan that a major amnesty law was adopted that brought into the magic mosaic, millions of new Americans into the taxpayers’ roll and the making of an ever beautiful America.
It is a general consensus that the black population in the United States as well as the black population in Africa and in the Caribbean has found in the past four years a timid Barack Obama administration, interested in and acting upon the major constraints that could unleash the creativity of each black American as well as the million of blacks in Africa and in the Caribbean to make their country better and stronger.
Caring for the weakest link of the chain is the smart way to render the chain stronger.
The canvas of the United States has been changed by bold strokes more often by the Republican governments than by the Democratic ones: the black emancipation under Abraham Lincoln, the leap forward toward friendship with China under Richard Nixon, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, the destabilization of the Soviet Empire as well as the amnesty for immigrants, have all been big picture strokes designed by Ronald Reagan, a Republican president.
The Democrats have also their bold leaders in the personas of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who remained president for three terms, and Lyndon Johnson, who was president for six years. Roosevelt did not hesitate to put the United States in the first line of defense against Nazi Germany, making “America the arsenal of democracy for the Allies”. He did earlier engineer the New Deal, providing jobs for millions of Americans.
President Lyndon Johnson continued the legacy of John F. Kennedy, who left prematurely due to his assassination. His vision of the Great Society “that would match the marvels of man’s labor with the meaning of man’s life”, was concretized through major programs in education, Medicare, urban renewal and the fight against poverty. The major civil rights initiatives undertaken under the Democratic presidency of Lyndon Johnson have not been a regular staple of the American life.
President Barack Obama did push forward a program of universal healthcare, but it is too early to put a verdict on that initiative.
Who to choose
The people of the United States will chose which one of the contenders, Barack or Mitt, to lead them into that bliss of a nation where inequality is not a major reality. The Republican concept rests on the creativity and the ingenuity of the individual to achieve that might, while the Democratic Party expects the state or the government to play a much more major role.
Which one is right, which one is wrong? I believe a combination of both is all right. President Barack Obama, in a recent soul searching television interview, said if he has regret in his past four years it was not to use his leadership pulpit to make the nation (and the world) whole.
Condoleezza Rice, at the end of the mandate of George W Bush, wrote a candid review in Foreign Magazine that if she had the chance to do it again in advising a government it would be to embark on a campaign of nation-building, joining what Barack Obama wishes, making the nation (and each nation) enjoy the glory of the past while contemplating and building together the future.
The United States is winding down one war (Iraq), while still conducting another one (Afghanistan). It is losing both because it did not apply the concept of nation building in either one. The solution to both is the solution of Abraham Lincoln, building a nation where all the composites of the country are gazing at their glorious past while pushing forward together. (The Dominican Republic slogan says it best: ‘y palente que vamos juntos!’)
Who will win the election of November 2012? Could Condoleezza Rice become at the same time the first female and first black vice president at the side of Mitt Romney as the new president? Or would the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, offer a second term? It is up to the American people to decide.
I will be dreaming about an Abraham Lincoln lookalike, who is not afraid of going to war with his own (and the rest of the world) to impose the concept that we are in this nation (and in this world) together; we must work with ingenuity to bring about the bliss of the pursuit of happiness for all.
• Jean H. Charles MSW, JD is executive director of AINDOH Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.