GOP Leaders Ignore Selma Anniversary at Their Own Peril

Fri Mar 06, 2015 15:16:15PM

Martin Luther King leading the march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama. By: Abernathy Family
The Republican Leadership in Congress needs an intervention. There's just no other way to put it. How can a party who proclaims they want to open up their tent and be more welcoming to people who aren't old, white men not foresee the terrible optics of ignoring the 50th Anniversary of one of the worst racial injustices in modern history?

I get it. Maybe John Boehner's golf and wine tasting reservations are nonrefundable and maybe Mitch McConnell has a tour at a bourbon factory that he just can't pass up, but didn't someone, anyone, in the Congressional Republican leadership team point think about the optics of having no Republican Congressional leadership in Selma? Politics is as much about optics than anything else and the optics of not having a single leader from the Republican Congress attending the 50th Anniversary of Selma look really bad.

Republicans have been saying for quite some time now that they are going to enter the 21st Century and try to become a party that welcomes more than old white men, but actions speak louder than any words. They can say they want to open up their tent and be more welcoming to people who don't look like them all they want. What specific actions will they take to get a greater diversity within their ranks? That's the real question and one that they are failing miserably at answering.

It is unfortunate that so many Republicans don't see the need to participate in this march. This country has been slowly healing its racial wounds throughout these past fifty years, but so many of our conservative friends want to claim victory and never talk about the past again. We must never allow that to happen because then we risk sliding back into our old ways. It's just like the great philosopher Edmund Burke said--'those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.'

Seeing a bipartisan group of leaders from all walks of life would have been a wonderful thing to see at tomorrow's march, but unfortunately that will not be happening. My hope is that one day those on the right will wake up and realize that things aren't always about them, but that isn't the case right now. They obviously have more important things to do than spending their time in Selma.
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According to the latest reports, about two dozen Republicans DID go to Selma. The highest ranking was Kevin McCarthy, who is the Senate majority leader. Overall, though, a lot of the Republicans are still tone deaf about race relations.
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3190 days ago
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Republicans delegated the task of attending to George W. Bush and Laura.

President Obama will be in Selma this weekend, and will be on CBS Sunday Morning tomorrow morning