Op-Ed: Sonnie Johnson's Message During White House Meeting Wasn't Only For Trump

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
AP featured image
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion with African-American supporters in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Washington. Seated with Trump are Republican political consultant Raynard Jackson, from left, radio host Sonnie Johnson, podcast host Wayne Dupree and Pastor Darrell Scott. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump held a roundtable at the White House yesterday to discuss police reform and other issues with a group of black conservatives. This gathering included Pastor Darrell Scott, conservative pundit Wayne Dupree, Sonnie Johnson, and others.

When it was her turn to address the president, Johnson, who hosts a weekly radio talk show, discussed the state of the black community and the problems many African Americans are facing. She pointed to economic woes as well as substandard education in predominantly black cities and argued that these issues would not change as long as Democrats remained in power. She said:

“All of these things have been under Democratic control for 60 years, and they are not gonna change until we have a Republican Party that is willing to go into these communities and actually offer a choice to these people about how we can do things differently. Because the way it is structured now is, the only choice we get is left, or further left.”

She continued, noting that the GOP, which is supposed to be the conservative party, is not offering conservative solutions to minority communities. “The very basic economic principles that we on the right say are significant in our success and seeing the success in our country, those are not being offered at the local level and black communities,” she explained.

The talk show host also noted how the Republicans’ absence from urban areas makes it easier for the corporate press to label them as racists. “So until we can actually get an honest dialogue on the right out into the ether, then you’re gonna keep on having, you know, the fake news media spread lies because we aren’t there giving another choice as to how these things can be done,” she said.

Johnson then brought up Trump’s past interactions with iconic black Americans:

“If we look at the photos of you before you became president and you were taking pictures with Snoop, and you were taking pictures with all the icons of hip-hop, you did that, I think, and you can tell me if I’m wrong, but you did that because you saw capitalists, you saw branders, you saw entrepreneurs, you saw people that were willing to take a chance and make things grow. That is us. That is the black community.”

Johnson said quite a bit in the few minutes she was given to speak to the president. But anyone who follows her knows that her message wasn’t only directed at Trump, it was also for the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

As you might already know, I am an ardent advocate for the idea that the GOP needs to begin engaging with black Americans and other minorities if it wishes to remain relevant. But I’m not the only one. People like Sonnie Johnson have been fighting this battle for years.

There’s a reason for that.

For starters, black Americans have lived under the thumb of Democratic politicians at the local level for decades since the Republican Party stopped actively seeking their votes. The refusal of the GOP to compete in predominantly minority districts has enabled the Democrats to take black voters for granted while not having to do much to earn their support. As I told conservative YouTube personality James Hake in our conversation last week, black folks cannot vote for candidates who are not there.

But there is also the issue of relevancy. If the GOP wants to stay alive, it cannot afford to continue ignoring minority voters. With the coming demographic shift, these constituencies will become more important in the near future.

President Trump has already set the example that the GOP should follow. He is making a concerted effort to reach out to black voters and increase his support in the black community. However, Trump will not be the president forever.

If the GOP wishes to remain relevant, the onus is on them to start expanding their outreach efforts. Along with Trump, people like Jimmy Kemp and Senator Tim Scott, through the Empower America Project, have also provided a blueprint showing how the former Party of Lincoln Can return to its roots.

The political party that was initially founded to aid black Americans has lost touch with the people it was intended to partner with. But it is not too late for the GOP to reestablish its relationship to the black community.

Contrary to popular belief, black America is ready for something new Despite what many think, they are not as enamored with the Democratic Party as it might seem. Unfortunately, there is no viable alternative a the local level.

Some might believe that it is too difficult at this point for the GOP to start making inroads with African Americans. This is understandable given the fact that they have not tread those waters in over 60 years. But, if I almost had to call Beto O’ Rourke my Senator, then there is no reason why the Republican party can’t expand its outreach efforts.

The Democrats have shown that they do not have the same fear of going into uncharted territory as the Republican party. But if we want conservatism to win out on the battlefield of ideas, we must be willing to invade unfamiliar territory.


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