No Republican leaders will attend the 50th anniversary events this weekend in Selma, Alabama, according to Politico. The events commemorate the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery and the signing of the Voting Rights Act.
Although several rank-and-file conservatives have urged their leaders to attend, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not attend the three-day event in Selma. This inaction is sure to accentuate the divide between minorities and the leaders of the “old, white guy” party.
“It is very disappointing that not a single Republican leader sees the value in participating in this 50th commemoration of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. I had hoped that some of the leadership would attend, but apparently none of them will,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina.
“The Republicans always talk about trying to change their brand and be more appealing to minority folks and be in touch with the interests of African-Americans,” continued Butterfield. “This is very disappointing.”
The Republicans are always talking about changing their image and closing the gap between themselves and American minorities, yet they either do the exact opposite or nothing at all. In Scalise’s case, this was a prime opportunity to attempt quashing his reputation created by past associations with pro-white hate groups.
It is refreshing that some GOP members will attend, but their presence would be more meaningful if they were joined by the GOP leadership. Some in Congress question the GOP leaders’ commitment to unity altogether.
“Not only do they have an opportunity to participate in something that is historic in this country, but certainly they’ve lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care,” said former Congressional Black Congress Chair Marsha Fudge (D-OH). “Their loss.”
The Republicans have a rocky relationship with minorities. The GOP passes voter suppression laws, gerrymander districts, and they dismantled the Voting Rights Act. Their absence in Selma only proves that Republican leaders don’t care about minorities.