Why the GOP should select J.C. Watts as its next Chairman

Jason Blair is a contributor for The Brenner Brief.

Jason Blair is a contributor for The Brenner Brief. Twitter:    @jasonblair79

Few things irritate me more than the left playing racial politics. I’m embarrassed for my country when I hear Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton pandering to black audiences by speaking with a different inflection than they would use elsewhere. It’s even more puzzling to me that minorities do not appear to be equally offended by these acts.

With this in mind, news stories have started circulating suggesting the Republican Party is tossing around the idea of former Black Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts possibly chairing the Republican Party.

While we can’t discount Watts’ conservatism, one cannot be blamed for questioning the motives of the RNC. After all, Congressman Watts has been out of public office for nearly a decade. Is this the right’s version of racial pandering?

Photo from bio of then-Congressman J. C. Watts...

Photo from bio of then-Congressman J. C. Watts, 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This cynicism presents a real risk to the GOP. People may come to a quick conclusion that Republicans are simply doing this as a cheap and easy way to attract minority votes – that they are not really serious about engaging the black community. After all, this would not be the first time the RNC has had an African-American Chairman, and the immediate reaction from the left to the appointment of Tim Scott to Sen. Demint’s newly vacated seat was that Republicans selected Scott as a “token.”

The Republican Party correctly believes they need to do more to reach out to minorities. The continuing shift minority voters made toward the left in the 2012 presidential election magnifies this need. Choosing Watts to assist the right with reversing the trend may initially appear shallow. It isn’t; moreover, it would be a great move for several reasons.

First, Watts showed great foresight in predicting the racial issues facing the Republican Party today. In 2006 he went on record criticizing the GOP for not doing enough to reach out to the Black community.

Additionally, Watts’ methodology for attracting minorities to the right would be to enlighten, not insult. Since 2008, Watts has been tirelessly working to get his Black Television News Channel (BTNC) on the air. In his own words, “There’s a whole lot more to the African-American community than entertainment and sports.”

Most importantly, Watts is looking at the long-term. He understands what is really needed and will not repeat the insulting, short-term, failed tactics of the past, as evidenced in his quote from Politico:

These old, tired, pathetic models of saying, ‘Okay, in the black [community], when there’s a presidential election, we will form an African-American Coalition for Romney or McCain,’ I’ll never do that again. That is a joke, that is so tired … It’s window dressing to say, ‘African-Americans for Romney’ or ‘African-American Coalition’ or ‘African-American Advisory Council.’ That’s insulting to the people that they ask to do it when you don’t put a permanent infrastructure in place to give it credibility.

This is who the Republican Party needs. He’s not a mascot, he’s the real deal. He truly cares about minority issues, fully understands the harm liberalism has done to the minorities, and can be trusted to make substantive changes to attract voters – not the cheap pandering we continue to see from the left.


  1. Happy Holidays Sara, the article you posted is a pretty good article concerning the issue of race for the GOP however, as the article points the republican party would not listen to Watts perhaps this is because of his race which demonstrates the parties long history of its inability to connect with ethnic groups. Interestingly enough I asserted the same sentiment in a book I wrote about leadership and I’ve lectured on it at colleges as well. In 2005 when I began talking about this many laughed and honestly, I understand why — they simply did not have the data In fact I’ve said that Busch II may be the last white male president for the 20 to 25 years. I know that may be scary for some however, It’s just not in the demographic cards and the parties inability to develop a unified message that reaches the masses or the people you NEED TO ATTRACT.

    Now the problem is pretty deep — it will take the GOP about 10 more years to attract the trust of ethnic groups because this is a relational issue steeped in history and you can’t unpack this in four years — you must take your time, be patient and develop creditable messaging and a sense of real relationship and connection. What this means is the GOP needs time and consistency in its messaging. Watts is only a start — I like him and he has creditability along culture lines and I think these are the kind of people the party needs to look for — persons with cross cultural creditable appeal.

    That will mean the face or faces of the party must take on drastic change – women and ethnic minorities must be visible, viable and most importantly audible — they need to be heard. If the party is willing to let go of its tight grip on historic leadership and allow emerging leaders to take their place in history then the party will become extremely attractive to people who are looking for leadership. One common question asked by GOP is; “why do ethnic groups vote Democratic when the Democrats have done little for them?” Answer; its not a case of national hypnosis, its an issue of ethnically diverse messaging wrapped in perceived relationships that Americans feel are creditable. The Democrats have a better relationship with Americans than the GOP. Relationships begin with people, effective messaging and returns on the relationship. Since the Democrats have under-performed on the delivery of the relationship I think its created an open door for republics to — intrigue, inspire and involve a whole new demographic.

    If the party can capture their attention with the right persons, message and motive its significance to the American people will be recaptured.

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