Friday, March 24, 2006

A Seat At The Table

Is a seat at the big table enough? David Bernstein seems to think so:
Oh, and there's an EXCELLENT reason for a black conservative, especially a political activist, to be a Republican: if you want the GOP to pay attention to the interests of African Americans, it's very helpful if there are some blacks in the party who are in the room when important decisions are made.
Eugene Robinson suggests otherwise:
You could rationalize working for someone like Helms by telling yourself that you could do more good for the African American community from the inside, next to the seat of power, than from the outside. You could tell yourself you were advancing the interests of black people, even if most black people disagreed. You could ignore racism or pretend it was something else. You could tell yourself that you were making compromises and sacrifices for the greater good.

Finally, you could arrive at the White House, with a big job and regular access to the president. But it might be a White House where all the big decisions were made by just a few people, and you weren't one of them.

Then what?
But really, how often does this actually happen in any context. Somebody who wants to be political active and be a force for change in the world, who (strategically) never joins the political parties or organizations with which he agrees, who goes under deep cover in the opposing party where he rises to a position where he has access to its leaders, and who then tries to influence the party's decision-makers to take the positions he has hidden throughout his life (and to at least some degree must continue to hide in order to protect his position)?

Even if such covert work were effective, how often would your time and energy have been better spent working for the causes in which you believe?

Both the Bernstein and Robinson positions seem to assume a compromise of ideals.

1 comment:

  1. I'm still astonished that someone as openly racist as Jesse Helms would have hired a black staff person in the first place.