Take Our Country Back from the Plantation: 2 Things Republicans Should Stop Saying Immediately

Good politics pertains as much to good policies as it does to good rhetoric. If Republicans learned nothing else from the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, we should have learned that image and rhetoric matters–perhaps more than anything else. Our mission, to increase the number of Republican voters, begins with a careful analysis of our public statements. To that end, we should avoid mindless cliches, and statements so inflammatory that they detract from their own message.

 

I’ve created a long list of things Republicans say (and shouldn’t), along with my rationales.

 

Here are the first two:

 

Take Our Country Back

 

Both Rand Paul and Rick Santorum launched their 2016 presidential bids with these words. Liberals, like ex-Attorney General  Eric Holder, erroneously claim that this phrase contains racial undertones–serves as a dog whistle, a microaggression–when juxtaposed with the presidency of the first non-white to hold the office. Like much of what the left says, this bears little resemblance to the truth. Lesley Clark scoured the annals to produce the ancient origin of this phrase, employed, first, in 2003 by presidential candidate, Howard Dean.

 

Even when employed by a Democrat, the phrase is silly, at best, and insulting at worst.

 

What does it mean to “take the country back?” America belongs to Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between–even the politically unaffiliated. Besides, if one party “has it,” does that party take it for exclusive use, like a petulant child?

 

For conservative Republicans, this phrase fails for another reason. “Take Our Country Back” can connote a chronological shift–a vow to take America back in time, to an era marked generally by better social morals, but also by egregious civil rights shortcomings. This undermines our assertion that conservatives believe in moving America to a brighter future, even as we do so via time-honored traditions and values.

 

Better phraseology exists (e.g.: “Win back the White House,” “Win back the Congress,” etc.).

 

Republicans should bury this hackneyed trope.

 

Democrat Plantation

 

This one is very problematic.

 

Herman Cain boasted, in 2012, of having “left the Democrat Plantation a long time ago,” echoing similar statements by former Florida Representative, Allen West. Louisiana State Senator Elmer Guillory likened the Democrat Party to a plantation. Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, said that liberals hate him because he dared to “come off the plantation.” The list of Republicans equating the Democrat Party to a plantation runs unfortunately long. What you may notice about these speakers is that they are all black–and all wrong.

 

As a black conservative, I empathize with the general frustration that they feel. To them–to us–black allegiance to a party that does little more than pay lip service to a desperately struggling people can be vexing. Just as Frederick Douglas, in his autobiography; decries slaves’ ready willingness to drink, fornicate, fight and waste their precious little money during Christmas celebrations, rather than conspire to break from the shackles of unjust servitude; conservatives (of all colors) detest seeing blacks living in deep privation in Democrat strongholds like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland.

 

Republicans, black Republicans in particular, should make the case that we are the party founded on love for black people. Instead, though, by invoking the Democrat Plantation rhetoric, we insult black Americans (calling them stupid), and our enslaved ancestors (downplaying slavery).

 

Chris Rob explains this nicely in a piece posted on the DailyKos:

 

“I’ve never really understood the argument. Black people trade their votes to Democrats for the ability to sit home and collect government checks or something like that, right? But you know that doesn’t sound like slavery at all, right? I mean, first, you argue that black people just want to be taken care of and do nothing all day, except cast a couple of votes when the time comes. And in exchange, we get free food, housing, and health care. That’s insulting enough. But then you suggest that such an arrangement would be akin to the slavery of our ancestors. As though American chattel slavery consisted of slaves lolling around all day watching t.v. and waiting for the next election. The first claim is infuriating, the second, unforgivable.”

 

 

I note that the greatest offenders of this rule are often, themselves, black. Imagining the firestorm that would engulf a white public figure for claiming that blacks voting Democrat do so out of a plantation mentality suffices to show the daftness of the phrase.

 
Republicans, don’t say it. Leave stupid sayings to the Democrats.

3 comments

  1. The “Take our country back” statement refers to taking the country back from those who do not respect and follow the Constitution. The country was founded as the Constitution being it’s founding document. Conservatives talk about his all the time so it’s not as though that is an unknown meaning. The Constitution belongs to every American. Those who would pollute and distort the Constitution have no right being in power, it’s the reason why the “Oath of Office” is about protecting the Constitution.

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  2. Mr. Hunter, your points are well taken especially, regarding the “take back our country” rhetoric, for all of the specific reasons you so accurately noted. I also appreciate your suggested phrases to replace this saying, although, I did not see such a suggestion for the latter democratic plantation reference. Nonetheless, I take some exception to your opposition of using the term “democrat plantation,” a comment often used by black republicans. Slavery references mean that one does not own him or herself. Plantations were places used for producing goods and services by free labor whereby, socio-economic conditions were developed to control the labor it needed for others to prosper.
    Slaves were essentially in a dependent situation that I’m certain no one would dispute. All the rules of a plantation environment were purposely designed to maintain dependency and to discourage free thinking and self sufficiency to the degree that would not encourage slaves to abandon plantation life. Therefore, I think the reference to “democrat plantation” is a good way to illustrate how the party has contributed to the deprivation of some blacks. Those democrats need a jolt to their thinking to begin questioning “why” black republicans refer to the democratic party in such terms.
    Further, I think Chris Rob was a bit off center in his explanation for why blacks may take offense to the term; effectively saying that blacks vote for democrats to receive free housing, food, healthcare, etc., However, he failed to understand the underlying meaning for wanting such things. That is, he neglected to mention that it is the dependency mindset that causes people to vote for “things” rather than for a platform that advocates to maintain a free society. I might add, the entitlement mindset is no longer a soapbox claim of the poor but has spread throughout all economic groups, regardless of race. Today, many people feel entitled to something. The point should be made that a dependency mindset is what cripples anyone who subscribes to it. I agree with the late James Brown from a sixties recording where he repeats: ” I don’t want nobody to give me nothing, open up the door, I’ll get it myself.”
    Of course there are exceptions, including the mentally handicapped, elderly without family, and children. Beyond that, the government has no right to impose upon our financial earnings other than for the military, roads and emergencies. This helps us all to keep more in our pockets especially those who need it the most. We, as individuals are responsible for taking care of one another. No one knew this more than free blacks after the Civil War who found a way to support one another. The democrats have contributed to the removal of self sufficiency concepts, and we must all find a way to get it back. Therefore, I support black republicans who evoke the democrat plantation card because black people need to wake up and ask themselves why?

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  3. I agree with you. Slogans like these two crumble in the light of clear thought. Who is the “we” of We Want to Take Our Country Back…white people, conservatives, The South, Klan members? It’s EVERYBODY’S country. So who ae “we” taking it back from? Instead, conservatives should want to change the direction of the country, offer better ideas for safeguarding America’s future and security, convince more to adopt the conservative message and mission, and show EVERYBODY that America’s leadership needs to change for the best interest of OUR nation. And turning to the second phrase: What Democrat has ever viewed themselves as Plantation Owners? Would anyone among today’s Millennials even KNOW what a plantation is, politically speaking? Hackneyed phrases like this demand some kind of an explanation at best, and at worst simply turn people off.

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