- - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Last week’s midterm elections were a huge success for the Republicans. Significant gains were made in the governorships and House of Representatives. The GOP also took control of the Senate for the first time since 2007.

It’s gratifying for most conservatives to watch President Obama’s political wings get clipped, and his influence reduced to lame-duck status. They should also be pleased to see the emerging new faces of the GOP.

Orange County Register staff columnist Joseph Perkins wrote glowingly about “the case for black Republicanism.” In his view, the election of Mia Love to the House from Utah and Tim Scott to the Senate from South Carolina “make it much harder for Democrats to claim that the party of Lincoln doesn’t especially care for blacks.”

Mrs. Love and Mr. Scott aren’t the first black Republicans to have ever been elected. South Carolina’s Hiram Rhodes Revels was the nation’s first black senator (1870-71), and Florida’s Josiah Walls served three House terms between 1871 and 1876. More recently, Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma and Rep. Allen West of Florida all held prominent roles.

Still, Mr. Perkins makes a good point. The left’s tiresome and loathsome campaign about the GOP and race has finally hit the proverbial brick wall.

Mrs. Love, a Haitian-born convert to Mormonism, former Saratoga Springs mayor and first black female Republican elected to Congress, is already helping put on the brakes. She recently told CNN hosts Michaela Pereira and John Berman that her election “has nothing do with race.” Rather, she believes Utah “made a statement that they’re not interested in dividing Americans based on race or gender, that they want to make sure that they are electing people who are honest and who have integrity.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Scott, who was appointed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in 2013 to his Senate seat when Jim DeMint vacated it, won a special election to serve out the remaining two years. He became the first black American in the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, and the first to win it outright. (He’s also the first black to have been elected to the House and Senate.)

To his credit, Mr. Scott never joined the Democrat-controlled Congressional Black Caucus. According to a December 2010 statement, “While I recognize the efforts of the CBC and appreciate their invitation for me to caucus with them my campaign was never about race.” More to the point, he supported “[r]educing the tax burden, decreasing government interference in the private sector, and restoring fiscal responsibility and I don’t think those ideals are advanced by focusing on one group of people.”

It’s far too early to know whether Mrs. Love’s and Mr. Scott’s victories are part of a growing trend. Yet, this is an early sign that something is starting to occur in the black community.

In fact, I’d argue that a tiny glimmer occurred back in April. It happened during popular singer Pharrell Williams’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, when he labeled himself as being part of something called “the New Black.”

According to Mr. Williams, “The New Black doesn’t blame other races for our issues.” Rather, this new movement “dreams and realizes that it’s not pigmentation: It’s a mentality, and it’s either going to work for you, or it’s going to work against you. And you’ve got to pick the side you’re going to be on.”

He’s not the only person to have mentioned this.

As Jonathan Kim wrote in an Oct. 24 piece for The Huffington Post, “influential black people like Pharrell, Raven Symone, and Donald Glover (in what’s called the “New Black” movement) have declared that racism against blacks is no longer relevant.” While the film critic isn’t sympathetic, he understood “how a lot of young people may honestly feel that racism is a relic of the past that America just needs to get over, especially since so many of their pop culture heroes, and even the nation’s first family, are black.”

What does all this mean? Mrs. Love and Mr. Scott, along with other newly minted Republicans, such as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is Jewish, and 18-year-old Saira Blair, elected to West Virginia’s House of Delegates, are helping adjust and correct perceptions about race, religion and gender. It’s difficult to keep labeling the GOP as a group of angry white males when the political tent is clearly getting bigger.

The Republicans’ political future looks very bright with these new caucus faces. The times they are a-changin’, indeed.

Michael Taube is a contributor to The Washington Times.

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