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Feehery: GOP should pursue an urban agenda

Feehery: GOP should pursue an urban agenda
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I drove past a gas station in Anacostia, a neighborhood on the southeast side of Washington, D.C., over the weekend and noticed the extremely high price of a gallon of gas. That got me thinking about how Republicans can make a play for Black voters.

Gas prices are high across the country because that’s part of President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE’s plan to save the planet. But they are really high in Washington because of taxes and regulations imposed by the overwhelmingly left-wing D.C. City Council.

This is the same D.C. City Council that puts a tax on plastic bags, makes soft drinks more expensive with higher taxes and has banned plastic straws, making small restaurants scramble to find higher-priced alternatives.

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This is also the same D.C. City Council that has kept public schools shut for the bulk of the last year, destroying the futures of thousands of African-American schoolchildren.

I hate to break it to you, but left-wingers don’t have the best interests of working-class African Americans in mind as they pursue their neo-Marxist ideas.

This was hammered home for me several years ago when I served on the jury of a murder trial in Washington, D.C. We had a racially diverse jury pool, but I think I was the only Republican of the bunch. We convicted one of the two defendants, but the other one escaped punishment because a white progressive male just wouldn’t vote to convict. He was the only holdout.

Like the woke radicals who burn store fronts and then buy expensive mansions, the progressive left talks a good game about helping Black people, but when it comes right down to it, their policies are bad for the urban community.

I think the time is ripe for Republicans to invest resources into urban America to pry working-class Black voters away from the white liberal elite who talk so loudly about racial justice but whose policies make life more difficult for minorities in general, and African Americans specifically.

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Most Republicans were moved by the compelling narrative put forth by Kimberly Klacik, who ran unsuccessfully against Kweisi Mfume for a congressional seat in Baltimore in the last election. Klacik may not have won the election, but she definitely was a fundraising star, raising more than $8 million from small-dollar donations from around the country.

Klacik challenged the entrenched liberal elite in Baltimore to provide a better quality of life for their constituents.

Republicans need to jump on that bandwagon.

Black working-class voters share the same aspirations as working-class voters all over the country. They want to send their kids to good schools. They want to live in a nice neighborhood. They want their families to be safe and healthy.

How can Republicans make the case to these voters?

First, be for safe streets and for criminal justice reform. The war on drugs is over. We need to move on as a country. Get nonviolent offenders out of jail and into a job. And create partnerships with the police and with the community to stop crime by targeting those at-risk youngsters who commit the bulk of them.

Second, repeal all the dumb policies that make life unnecessarily expensive in urban America. There is no reason taxes, especially consumption taxes, should be so high. Repeal the regulations that make it difficult to open small businesses and big-box stores in Black neighborhoods. Focus hard on making life easier and cheaper to live.

Third, transform education to make it fit the 21st century. Clearly, the old model of public schools has failed the inner city. We need a new model that teaches children life skills to thrive in modern society. Sure, school choice is part of that transformation, but we need to do more than simply destroy the corrupt teacher unions. We need to build something completely new to give kids the ability to become life-long learners.

Finally, we need to protect and nurture the best of the Black neighborhood experience. Help Black Americans to revitalize their communities, not so they can sell their houses and move to the suburbs, but rather so they can have a vested interest in staying in their neighborhoods and making them thrive. Take steps to make housing more affordable but not cheaper. Build more ballfields and places to play football or pursue careers in the arts.

It might be counterintuitive in the Black Live Matter era, but I think Republicans can make a play for the Black vote. They have no choice but to try.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: The right choice to lead the Conference Feehery: Biden seems intent on repeating the same mistakes of Jimmy Carter Feehery: Corporate America hurts itself when it stops participating in the political system MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).