Republicans made gains among Latinos and Black males during the Trump era, and that momentum is reflected in African American candidates.
In the shadow of former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, conservative African American Sen. Tim Scott Monday filed to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Historically he is not the first African American Republican to seek the nomination, and he is not likely to have any better luck than his predecessors. But his presence is a sign that despite all odds, perhaps even the odds among Republicans, the party can represent itself as an option for minorities.
Scott’s announcement from South Carolina followed the victory of Daniel Cameron, another African American Republican candidate, who secured his party’s nomination for the Kentucky governorship.
It would be easy, but wrong, to downplay the significance of what some U.S. political media define as “the rise of the Black Republican.”
An analysis by the Axios group noted that “one of the most overlooked dynamics in our politics is that voters are becoming less polarized by race, even as they become more divided along educational lines.”
According to this perspective, Republicans made small but notable gains among both Latinos and Black males during the Trump era, and that momentum is reflected in a growing number of African American candidates.
Surprisingly, Republicans elected five Black members of Congress, all from states and constituencies where white voters hold a majority.
In turn, five new members of Congress means that the number of Latino Republicans in Congress nearly doubled and is a sign of their appeal to conservative Latinos. Especially notable was the arrival of Reps. Anna Paulina Luna (Florida) and Monica De La Cruz (Texas), two conservative Mexican Americans.
George Santos, a Brazilian American who was elected in New York and is currently in trouble for lying and illegal spending, deserves special mention.
But the greater Republican ascendancy among ethnic minorities is a sign that the growing incorporation of these groups into the mainstream of U.S. society is a work in progress. For the first time, there are five Black Republicans in the lower House, where there were none before. Democrats have as many as 60 Black legislators and three senators.
In part, it’s a paradox that a large percentage of Latinos and African Americans identify as conservative but maintain their allegiance to the Democratic Party in reaction to racist overtones in Republican rhetoric.
Scott claims to be “living proof that America is the land of opportunity and not the land of oppression.”
But until not so long ago, Black Republicans were scornfully compared to Uncle Tom, the protagonist of the novel bearing his name, a depiction that was very helpful to white people.
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