A few months ago, the Virginia Beach Republican Chairman David Bartholomew received a joke – a joke he thought was so funny, he had to forward it to everyone in his address book.
For posterity’s sake, here’s the joke:
I went down this morning to sign up my Dog for welfare.
At first the lady said, “Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare”.
So I explained to her that my Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is.
So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify…
My Dog gets his first check Friday.
Is this a great country or what?
Isn’t that funny?
You’re right. It’s not really that funny. It’s actually pretty stupid.
And it cost him his job. Last night he was forced to resign after a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, including myself and a number of other black activists across the state.
His excuse? He’s getting used to the internet. Right. Because its 2010 and no one knows how to use email? That might have worked if he sent this in 1997, but not today.
This may seem like a small thing to resign over, but it’s a big deal. When Republican leaders do things like this, it makes it very hard for folks like myself and my friends through out Virginia to recruit other blacks into our party. The perception of the Republican party as being the party of old, white racists is strong and that perception is only strengthened when stuff like this happens.
Our leaders, at every level, need to wake up and realize that everything they do has a consequence. Everything they do has a serious ripple effect and it falls on the troops in the field – people like me – to clean up their mess.
I am glad to have a leader like Anthony Bedell here in Fairfax and Republican leaders like Pat Herrity and John Cook who don’t claim to know everything there is to know about the African-American Community and are willing to be the first to reach out and learn and embrace us not as merely a voting block as some campaigns have done, but to welcome blacks into the party and make blacks part of the Republican movement.
We’re more than a list of churches to visit or events to attend. The good party leaders realize this. The bad ones think it’s funny to forward jokes about us being lazy and on welfare.
As for the now former Chairman of the Virginia Beach Republicans, take him as an example of how not to recruit blacks into our awesome party. Our leaders need to pay attention to this and take notice – these sorts of things don’t go unnoticed and will be called out. Myself and the thousands of Republicans who don’t see race as a barrier to our message will continue to fight to make this Party the big tent party Ronald Reagan envisioned, where race is meaningless and everyone is treated the way we should be – as Americans.