'Party Of Lincoln' Off Base On 'Confederacy Month'

Postcard honoring president Abraham Lincoln i i

hide captionShown is an 1800s commemorative postcard honoring President Lincoln for emancipating slaves. Deana Bass, as a proud Republican, says Gov. McDonnell of Virginia's proclamation to mark April as 'Confederate History Month' pushes blacks further away from the Republican party. The GOP needs to do more than flaunt President Lincoln's Republican affiliation.

Kean Collection/Getty Images
Postcard honoring president Abraham Lincoln

Shown is an 1800s commemorative postcard honoring President Lincoln for emancipating slaves. Deana Bass, as a proud Republican, says Gov. McDonnell of Virginia's proclamation to mark April as 'Confederate History Month' pushes blacks further away from the Republican party. The GOP needs to do more than flaunt President Lincoln's Republican affiliation.

Kean Collection/Getty Images

Deana Bass is managing partner of CS Corporate, a public affairs firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Del. Her occasional blog can be found here.

When I heard that my governor, Republican Bob McDonnell of Virginia, declared April to be Confederate History month in the state I — like many black Republicans — rolled my eyes, cringed and thought, "Here we go again!"

As a black American Republican raised in the heart of Dixie and now living just miles from the first black president of the United States of America, I have grown accustomed to the confusion from blacks and whites when they learn that I'm a card-carrying member of the GOP.

confederate civil war reenactment soldiers i i

hide captionConfederate soldiers line up for battlefield review at the First Manassas Civil War Reenactment in Leesburg, VA.

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
confederate civil war reenactment soldiers

Confederate soldiers line up for battlefield review at the First Manassas Civil War Reenactment in Leesburg, VA.

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

I served as Director of African American Coalitions under RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. I was there when he apologized for the Southern strategy. I worked as a flack for the House Republican Conference and stood on the national mall handing out water to visitors for 36 hours when Reagan died.

On most days, I'm proud to be associated with the conservative movement and have no problem with the Republican label. I'm proud to champion issues like school choice, tax relief, defense of the unborn and defense of marriage.

But on days like this — when my Republican governor issues a proclamation that in essence celebrates the Confederacy — I not only find myself out of place at the party, I also find myself violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment against speaking ill of the party.

Deana Bass

hide captionDeana Bass is managing partner of CS Corporate, a public affairs firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and Wilmington, Del. Her occasional blog can be found here.

Courtesy of Deanna Bass

As the kerfuffle around the proclamation mounts, Republicans are coming to the governor's defense. Their argument: Democrats fear celebrating the Confederacy because of their checkered past during the Civil War. Lincoln, after all, was a Republican. If I had a dollar for every time any Republican talked about the GOP being the party of Lincoln and the party that freed the slaves, I could retire on a beach in the Pacific. Really? Unless Mr. Lincoln can create jobs that will help black America pay the mortgage today, we're not so interested in what Republicans did 150 years ago!

The other argument for the proclamation is that it will ensure that this "defining chapter in Virginia's history should not be forgotten." Again, really? Virginia's history is richly studied in our schools. Furthermore, in most Virginia cities, you can't throw a stone without hitting a statue or plaque commemorating a confederate soldier. We'll hardly forget our role in the War Against Northern Aggression.

Ultimately, this proclamation falls short in two critical areas. It's not practical and it's not politically savvy. In practical terms, there is no reason for the proclamation because every day, Virginians see testaments to our state's history. From a political point of view, when the game is 50-plus-1 and when every vote counts, a Republican administration celebrating the Confederacy is just one more reason for black Americans to ignore the party of Lincoln.

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