As part of their much-heralded rebranding effort, the Republican Party bigwigs apparently thought it would be a great idea to send a Congressman to speak at historically black school Howard University.
Who did they choose for this important task? Which representative did they think would be the best to express their warm embrace of minorities?
Rand Paul, of course! The guy who, on more than one occasion, has said he’s opposed to the desegregation part of the Civil Rights Act: Rand Paul Ducks Record on Civil Rights in Awkward Howard Speech.
As Rand Paul told it, the biggest problem keeping African Americans from voting Republican is that they didn’t know Republicans have long been leaders on abolition and civil rights. As students at Howard University heard it, the problem was that Paul was condescending, misleading, and removed from the issues facing their community.
Would you be surprised to learn that Rand Paul immediately hauled out the blatantly deceptive right wing talking point that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and that Democrats are the real racists?
The Howard audience sure wasn’t.
Paul devoted almost none of his speech Wednesday at the historically black college in Washington, D.C., to explaining the GOP’s thorny relationship with black voters over the last fifty years, and most of it arguing that “the Republican Party has always been the party of civil rights and voting rights.” His history lecture focused almost entirely on the period before 1964, when the GOP began to champion the states rights arguments of southern whites. Echoing a popular conservative talking point, Paul repeatedly reminded the audience that Democrats passed Jim Crow laws in the south and that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, as were the first black legislators and the founders of the NAACP.
“Would everyone know here they were all Republicans?” he said at one point, referring to the NAACP’s founders.
“Yes!” came the booming response from nearly the entire audience, who appeared offended Paul would even raise the question.
The complete lack of self-awareness is stunning; it apparently doesn’t even occur to Rand Paul (or the GOP in general) that this talking point is insulting to the intelligence of African Americans, who are very well aware of the history of racism in American politics.
They don’t fall for this transparent, sleazy bullshit, and they’re never going to fall for it. But that doesn’t stop Republicans from trying to pull the scam over and over and over, even when they know they’re speaking to a highly educated, politically aware audience. It’s amazing, and I don’t mean that in a good way; a measure of the deep dysfunction at the heart of right wing politics.