The Danger of the Good Idea

The special operation soldiers in the military often talk about the fight against the “good idea fairy” in order to make their missions successful. In the military, the good idea fairy shows up whenever the high command or the planners get down into the weeds and try to improve the mission by having a plan for every possible situation the mission may encounter. On paper this appears to be a good and sensible thing to do. However what the men and women who have to carry out the mission will tell you is that the good idea fairy more often than not, will add two or three new problems in its effort to solve the one original problem.

In the book “No Easy Day: the Autobiography of a Navy SEAL”, by Mark Owen, the author discusses the Bin noeasydayLaden mission. Owen says the good idea fairy wanted to keep innocent bystanders from coming near the Bin Laden house while the SEALS were making their assault by having them turn one of Bin Laden’s cars from the house into a police car by placing a police light on top of it and stationing it on the corner of Bin Laden’s street. This idea created more problems than it was poised to solve. The SEAL team members asked some basic questions: who was going to push the car out to the street since no one would have the keys? Who would have time to push the car out since all the SEALS assumed they would be pretty busy in a fire fight? Wouldn’t it be a problem that there would be a flashing light highlighting their position? Did anyone know what color police lights in Pakistan are? When no satisfactory answer to these questions came up, the idea was dropped. In politics and government we are not as fortunate as the SEALS were with the police light; the good idea fairy often wins the day. Far too often our public policy and legislation goes for the simple fix or the idea that makes us feel good in the moment and the consequences are almost never thought through. We create additional problems, and the original goal is never achieved.

fiscalcliffFor example think about some of the big issues in the news these days. The fiscal cliff, according to the President and his allies and supporters–the big fix here is to have the wealthy pay more taxes or as the President calls it: their fair share. Going after the rich is a great vote getter but it does nothing to solve our very real serious fiscal problems. Our country spends more than it takes in and as everyone knows, this is not sustainable. The country could take every last dime from every rich person in America and it would barely be a drop in the bucket. More importantly it should be understood that higher taxes do not automatically mean increased revenue. In fact the data shows the exact opposite: in most times of higher tax rates in this country we actually get less revenue from the rich. It is when we cut tax rates that revenue from the wealthy increases. Why is this? Simply put, the rich, because they are rich, have more options.During higher tax rate times they put their money in tax shelters like municipal bonds and corporations and expand operations to countries with lower corporate tax rates, creating jobs and revenue for those countries. When the Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush 43 administrations got tax cuts in the very high tax rates guess what happened? The government increased revenue from people in the highest income brackets because those folks began to seek higher returns on investments than tax shelters tend to provide. This type of investing often leads to business expanding, which in turn means more jobs, and jobs are what this country desperately needs right now.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, telling the truth about taxes is not quite as good a rally point for votes as demonizing the rich is.



The GOP’s Growth Problem

By now we have heard all the talk and read all the facts the Republican party is a dying party it lacks support among minorities, young voters and single women and these groups handed President Obama, whom even many of his own supporters have said gave the nation an average to below average first term, an historic re-election victory. Exit poll after exit poll should voters from these groups just did not trust Republican nominee Mitt Romney or the GOP in general to be on their side. All of this is true and my party needs to fix this problem. However I want to state that I believe my party has an even bigger problem…… which is we can no keep losing the urban vote.

dangerwillrobinsonLike the robot from the old TV series “Lost in Space” who would shout out “Danger will Robinson Danger” whenever his young companion was in immediate peril. I too wish to shout out to my party, “Danger GOP danger!” In 2000 we lost the urban vote by 71%, 60% in 2004, 70% in 2008, and 69% in 2012. In Massachusetts mar key senate race Republican Scott Brown lost every one of the Commonwealth’s top 10 cities to his democratic opponent Liz Warren. Brown lost the race by 229,228 votes. Warren received 247,574 votes out of those top 10 cities alone. The suburbs as a voting bloc have powered the GOP engine for decades and have been largely responsible for our overall electoral success. In fact in 1952 republican stalwart Sen. Robert Taft famously said, “The Democratic Party will never win another national election until it solves the problem of the suburbs”. Well between strategy and circumstance the democrats have solved it. Obama won the suburbs in 2008 and although Romney won them back in 2012, he only won those 50 to 48 percent, not nearly enough. For example Romney did far better than John McCain in the “ big four Suburban counties” that surround Philadelphia even winning one of them. In fact it was probably the Romney campaign’s polling data from these counties that made them think the state was in play. However Romney despite this strong showing was trounced by the votes coming out of Philly. The city gave the Dems a margin around 465,000 votes. The burbs have become at best for the GOP swing voter territory and at worst some, especially, the older ones are trending towards the Democrats. Who have began to compete much more aggressively for suburban vote, all the while keeping an almost completely uncontested hold on our largest cities. And why is this a long term problem for the party? Well we now know that after years of decline our cities are growing faster than our suburbs and going hand in hand with the reverse in declining population is a reverse in low voter participation.

There was a time not that long ago when the voting population of our major cities were uninspired. White flight had taken its toll, upwardly mobile traditional white families who had been the largest voting demographic were gone. Leaving behind a minority population who’s needs, in any realistic and honest analysis were routinely suppressed for what was thought to be the benefit of those very same families who fled the city for the suburbs, a white population many of whom could not afford to leave and in many cases felling abandoned, and new immigrants who like all immigrants built insular communities. Many folks in these groups did not feel a sense of belonging or ownership to the cities that they lived in and lower voter participation compared to the suburban counterparts was on result. But things have changed, as time as gone on the city voter as grown to feel more and more ownership and more importantly more responsibility for their cities. The groups that remind in the city after white flight have developed coalitions with the gay community, young professionals, and young families around quality of life issues and they are revitalizing the energy in our cities and as a result voter participation is on the rise in our urban centers.

gopIf the GOP does not quickly develop a message for these voters and a strategy to compete for their votes we will be the party that is in danger of never winning another national election until we solve our big city problem. The GOP needs to look at cities the same way the wildcatters looked at empty fields in Texas, there’s oil under the ground and if we can drill it out we will prosper. There are votes in the cities lots of votes if the GOP can earn those votes the party and the country will prosper.


Proud to be a Black Republican

How did we get to the point where in many parts of the Black community and some white, that if you are Black and a Republican you cannot possibly be a real black person, a down brotha or a true sista?  You are automatically an Uncle Tom, Aunt Jane, Oreo cookie, wanna be; in other words a sell out!

stacey dashLook what happened to Stacey Dash this past election cycle when she had the audacity to support Mitt Romney over President Obama.  She was called a trader to her race, was told the Blacks wanted to trade her to whites in exchange for Bill Clinton.  ESPN sports reporter Rob Parker was suspended by ESPN for two weeks for questioning if Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins celebrated sensational rookie quarterback, was a “down brother.”  Part of Parker’s evidence that he might not be was that he heard Griffin might be a Republican.  Condoleeza Rice has never gotten credit for being the trail-blazer that she is. Where is her lifetime achievement award from the NAACP?  Instead this supremely accomplished woman was called a house slave by Harry Belafonte and accidentally Black by Professor Michael Eric Dyson.  Someone even said she needed to be sent to an inner-city racial re-education camp.   The irony of Condi Rice’s “Blackness” being questioned can be seen in her personal history.  She was raised under Jim Crow in Birmingham, Alabama were she suffered almost daily indignities. It was her church that was infamously bombed by the KKK killing four of her playmates.   It was, after all, the Democratic political establishment that created this atmosphere in the first place, and how is it that Condi became a Republican?  That same Democratic establishment refused to allow her father to register to vote but a Republican registrar was more than happy to assist him in doing so.

A few years back I ran for office in my hometown where I am a bit of a legacy: my father had been a state representative and community activist in the 70s before he passed away and as it so happens, he was a Democrat.  I am, obviously, a Republican.  Unfortunately there were many people in the black community who would openly go around talking about how my father must be turning over in his grave because I happen to be a Republican.  Apparently he would not be proud of me giving back to my community and dedicating myself to public service.

So why the vicious vitriol, why all the name calling and not a fight on substance and policy?  Could it be that when you actually stack the two parties side by side and examine their history and policy the Democrats do not come out looking all that good?  Republicans fought to end slavery and preserve the constitution; democrats were pro slavery to the point that they were willing to tear the country apart.  Republicans designed, fought for and implemented the 13th ,14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution.  Democrats in Congress from both the North and South vote against them.  In the case of the 14th  Amendment, the Dems voted unanimously against it.  The Democrats created and enforced segregation and the black codes and blocked every major piece of federal legislation to remedy those things.  Woodrow Wilson, Democratic President from New Jersey screened the movie “The  Birth of a Nation”–the famous racist epic that portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as virtuous warriors saving the world from evil, ignorant ex-slaves at the white house.  Wilson called the movie, “terribly true….like writing history with lighting”.

When the civil rights movement heated up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the main blocking force were southern Democrats.  It was the Republican Party that time and again provided civil rights lobbyists with their base of support.   Republican Earl Warren as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ushered in the era of the court standing up for civil rights.  Dwight Eisenhower hired the first African-American to be an advisor to the President. The Republican Party nominated Edward Brooke to be Massachusetts Attorney General in 1962 and made him a US Senator in 1966 which is 44 years before Democrats in Massachusetts nominated an African-American for any state-wide office, Richard Nixon created affirmative action, and George W. Bush appointed the first and 2nd African-American Secretary of State.

Reasonable people can disagree and debate policy and politics. In America, we are free to fight for our own ideals.  No one should have to have their ethnicity and loyalty to one’s own race questioned for doing just that.  I am a proud African-American and I am proud to be a member of the Republican Party, as any African-American should be!