General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and Secretary of State said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning that the Republican Party has a “dark vein of intolerance.” Taking the gloves off he said many Republicans “look down on minorities.” This was remarkable considering Powell is a Republican. He is also respected by a majority of all Americans.
Meet the Press host David Gregory challenged Powell’s Republicanism because he voted twice for President Obama. Powell strongly dismissed Gregory’s comments. “I am still a Republican. I am a Republican who grew up with George Bush 41. I grew up with Ronald Reagan, Cap Weinberger, Frank Carlucci—that Republican Party; the Republican Party of Dick Lugar and John Tower”.
Powell went on to say that in recent years, “there has been a significant shift to the right and we have seen what that shift has produced—two losing Republican campaigns.”
He said the Republican Party needs to take a hard look at itself and realize that the country is changing and if the Republican Party does not change along with the demographics, it is going to be in trouble. He was referring to the fact that soon the minorities of this country—African Americans, Hispanics, Asians will be the majority.
Powell did not sugar coat his message to his fellow Republicans. He said if the party wants to appeal to the new majority “you can not go around saying we don’t want to have a solid immigration policy; or we’re going to dismiss the 47%; [or] we are going to make it hard for these minorities to vote as they did in the last election.”
The General pointed out that the voter suppression backfired on Republicans. He said it caused people to stand in line for hours “because these Republicans are trying to stop us from voting.”
“There is a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” he said. “What do I mean by that? I mean they still sort of look down on minorities...” General Powell went to list the evidence that makes him say that.
“When I hear a former Governor [John Sununu] say after the first debate when he didn’t do very well that the president was “lazy.” He didn’t say he was sluggish, or he was tired, or he didn’t do well, he said he was lazy. It may not mean anything to most Americans but to those of us who are African American the second word is shiftless, and there is a third word that goes with it [referring to the “N” word].
He landed another punch when he went on to call Republicans out for endorsing the “whole birther movement” questioning why senior Republicans leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party.
Powell said the Republican Party needs to take a look at itself. He said it needs to look at its responsibilities to health care, immigration, and it has to take a look at those less fortunate. He pointed out that the GOP has a reputation for being the party of the rich and want them to pay lower taxes. “But there are lots of people lower down on the food chain who pay lots of taxes relative to their income and they need help.”
He cited other things Republicans are on the wrong side of. “We need more education.., a solid immigration policy; we have o look at climate change. He said that the Republican Party needs to focus on these issues and not ignore them.
The reaction to the Republicans on the Meet the Press panel following his remarks was as expected. They voiced no support for what Powell said. There were, however, smart-alecky remarks saying they were surprised he was a Republican and welcoming him “back”
Powell’s words will fall on deaf ears in today’s Republican Party, but they needed to be said. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
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