Book Review by Patrick D. John on Amazon
Back to Basics for the Republican Party, Third Edition by Michael Zak
Edition: Paperback Price: $16.61 Availability: In Stock 17 used & new from $13.59
September 1, 2006 I myself am a Black Republican, so I agree with Mr. Zak that the GOP's history on civil rights has not been fairly told. However, this book makes the same 2 errors that most GOP loyalists make when discussing Blacks and the GOP: 1) they oversimplify the ideology of the early Republicans and abolitionists. For example, notably missing from Mr. Zak's book are the following facts:that Herbert Hoover (Republican) was the first president to refuse to address the NAACP's convention, that Carter G. Woodson-the Founder of Black History Month-became so disappointed with the GOP that in the late 1920's he publicly stated that Blacks should stop being blindly loyal to the GOP, that soon after Reconstruction the GOP condoned the formation in the South of racially segregated GOP organizations, called the Lily Whites and the Black & Tans;that beginning in the 1870's Republican candidates lost elections in some Northern states because the Radical Republicans' idea of perfect equality was not embraced by most Whites, not even by most Republicans; that Lincoln was NOT a Radical Republican, he was a moderate who had ALWAYS discussed freeing the slaves ONLY in conjunction with deporting them to another country, for Lincoln openly declared that Blacks were inferior to Whites; that after the Civil War the GOP was weak nationally-since the founding of the GOP America has had 4 presidents who won by electoral vote but lost the popular vote, and all 4 were Republicans (Harrison, Hayes, Garfield, and Bush); that not all Republicans or abolitionists believed in racial equality, in fact most did NOT, they believed ONLY in ending slavery, and even on that issue they disagreed on the reasons, some were against slavery for moral reasons, others because they feared slave revolts, others because slavery competed with White labor, others because they wanted the good farmland used for more than just cotton. 2) they leave out much of how/why Blacks left the GOP in the first place: Mr. Zak's book does lay blame at the feet of Barry Goldwater, but overlooks the fact that Goldwater's victory in the GOP presidential primary obviusly says something about the views of rank and file Republicans in 1964-national civil rights legislation was clearly not a priority for most Republican voters in 1964, else Goldwater could not have won. Goldwater was just the icing on the cake. Beginning in the 1870's, the GOP began taking the Black vote for granted precisely because the Democrats were such vicious racists. Mr. Zak's book points out how the Democrats were at one point synonymous with the KKK, but he overlooks the obvious political implication for Black voters-if their only 2 choices were between the GOP and the Klan, it was an easy decision. Blacks voted for the GOP because they feared voting for the Democrats, this led to the GOP taking the Black vote for granted as the GOP moved further away from civil rights issues in order to attract more White voters, feeling confident that in doing so it would not lose Black voters. Today, it's the Democrats who take the Black vote for granted, because most Black voters are afraid of the GOP-the tables have turned.
As a Black Republican who is pro civil rights, I think what we need is a balanced review of history. This book is not balanced. Throughout history minorities have been used by the dominant group like a political footbal, and Blacks in America are no different. I'm working with some other Black Republicans to prepare a balanced view of Blacks and the GOP told from the Black perspective, not the perspective of a party loyalist.
He also recommends Republicans and the Black Vote. Click on the link for his review of it.