John Avlon: When Did the GOP Get So White?
Former Republican Senator Edward Brooke, the first popularly elected African American in the Senate, says:
“When I first went to the Senate there was one woman there, Margaret Chase Smith, who was a Republican. Of course, I was the only African-American. But there were a couple of Jewish senators—Jacob Javits [a Republican from New York] and Abe Ribicoff [a Democrat] from Connecticut. We had some diversity—racial diversity and [gender] diversity—but it was very small, of course. But we also had a degree of diversity as far as political ideology. We had a group of moderate senators who met for lunch once a week and we had a block of eight that usually voted together on these issues.”
Mitt Romney—whose father, George, was an advocate for a more inclusive Republican Party when he was governor of Michigan—might be in a strong position to address these hard truths and make amends. But that will require the political courage to admit his party’s failings on this front, recognizing the lost legacy of diversity is a rational reaction to specific policies the GOP embraced in the not-so-distant past.