The fact that leading Republicans like Ken Mehlman, New Gingrich and Jack Kemp are speaking publicly in the Washington Post about major Republican candidates refusing to show up for debates that made news for Democratic candidates speaks volumes. Newt, to his credit, makes it plain:

“For Republicans to consistently refuse to engage in front of an African American or Latino audience is an enormous error,” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who has not yet ruled out a White House run himself. “I hope they will reverse their decision and change their schedules. I see no excuse — this thing has been planned for months, these candidates have known about it for months. It’s just fundamentally wrong. Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That’s baloney.”

Black people have always known where modern Republicans stand. Their history of supporting segregation and their race-baiting messaging during elections combined with their consistent support of legislation hostile to the average black person’s interests is something we have generations now of experience with.

We know they are not on our side. Latinos in America are starting to get a clue and overall leaned Democratic in the last elections. The problem for Republicans is that except among a sub-section of their base comprised of ignorant, misguided mouthbreathers, open racism is not cool anymore. Even if blacks and brown aren’t swayed by the fake sincerity of candidates coming to speak to us on our issues, many whites are. Post-Martin Luther King, most Americans hold at least an ideal of racial harmony in America in their hearts as a core value. Republican candidates are in danger of sacrificing the suburban white soccer mom vote with this behavior. Their failure to show up at the CNN/YouTube debate for their party shows they are afraid of answering middle class white America’s questions on issues like Iraq, national security, climate change, tax cuts and healthcare too, though. I agree with Tavis Smiley on this and probably so do a lot of white Republicans:

“When you reject every black invitation and every brown invitation you receive, is that a scheduling issue or is it a pattern?” he asked. “I don’t believe anybody should be elected president of the United States if they think along the way they can ignore people of color. That’s just not the America we live in.”

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