If you don’t know the name Elbert Guillory, you should. He’s a senator in the Louisiana state legislature and the only African-American Republican in Louisiana since Reconstruction. He’s always been a conservative, and tried being a Democrat for a while but felt abandoned over the party’s casual attitude toward African-Americans. With the African-American community voting 93% for Obama in the last election, being a Republican isn’t an easy thing for Elbert Guillory. He’s recently taken to social media to explain himself in a well-made and moving video. It’s worth watching because his sense of conviction is refreshing and his country-lawyer mannerisms seem at odds with modern political packaging. This isn’t a guy who’s going to deliver a speech in front of a White House façade fashioned by Brittany Spears’ set designer. Is Senator Guillory headed to Washington?
Stranger things have happened. Guillory’s only been in elected politics since 2007. President Obama had been in elected politics for about twice as long, but he was also fairly young when he ran for national office. Guillory is almost 70, and his wisdom and experience count for something. Like Obama, Guillory is a lawyer. He earned a JD from Rutgers. Guillory also has a strong record of community involvement, serving on the board of several Catholic organizations. Democrats always hate to lose a good community organizer.
What distinguishes Guillory from President Obama is his authenticity. I don’t mean that he’s perfect. Louisiana politics is second only to Illinois for nastiness, and there have been allegations about past impropriety – person and political – that would be sure to resurface if Guillory ever ran for national office. But Guillory, unlike the President, has street cred. He is old enough to have lived through legal discrimination, socially institutionalized racism, and the impact of liberal welfare policies on the black community. He’s experienced the Democratic dream-state firsthand and realized the makings of a national nightmare. You only have to look at statistics regarding the increasing homicide and incarceration rate among black males, and the birth rate among single black women to realize that liberal policies of the past 50 years have made things worse, not better. Obama came of age after these policies were the norm and was shielded from most of the fallout due to his family situation and travels.
Guillory lays out an effective and compelling case why the Republican Party may be a better home for African-American voters. I’ve always thought so as well, and thought the party should do more to reach out as an alternative to the party of welfare, low expectations, and soft bigotry. Maybe Guillory will be that voice.
Will we see a Guillory vs. Hillary race in 2016? Probably not. But a black guy named Elbert would make a wonderful spokesperson for the RNC at time when the party is trying to reinvent itself and African-American voters are still hoping for change.