Republicans need to follow the example of Martin Luther King Jr. and return to their basic principles if they plan to win big in this year’s midterm elections, says Lt. Col Allen West, a retired Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who is challenging Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in Florida’s 22nd congressional district.
West used King’s birthday as an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the slain civil rights leader’s belief in the importance of character and to critique the mentality that many black leaders have instilled.
“I think we need to be very careful about losing the sense of individualism, and when you look at this collective progressive mentality that has turned the black community into victims and dependent upon the government,” West, who himself is black, told Newsmax TV’s Kathleen Wolter and Ashley Martella.
See Video: Allen West says the GOP should follow the example set by Martin Luther King Jr.
West says many black clergy hold conservative values such as the need for self-reliance and personal responsibility, and believe in traditional family values even if they don’t self-identify as conservatives.
“It is just a matter of us connecting and getting them to contrast between liberal principles of victimization and conservative principles of empowerment,” he said.
Republicans, he says, can reclaim the trust that many blacks, including Martin Luther King Jr., gave them by emphasizing the heritage of defending their rights going back to that party’s 1854 foundation and not by trying to be all things to all people.
The GOP pioneered civil rights for blacks through the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. constitution.
“The first congressmen of this country that were black congressmen were congressmen of the Republican Party,” West said. “Then you contrast that with the segregation laws, the Jim Crow laws and the founding of the Ku Klux Klan, which was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.”
He said it took Republicans such as late Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act in spite of Southern Democrats such as Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.V., who tried killing it.
“Go back to what you stand for, and the community will come back to you,” West said. “What we need to establish in our culture is a sense of individual responsibility and move away from victimization.”
West also said the GOP leadership needs to move away from “leadership by entitlement” and find people who will defend limited government, the free market and other traditional values.
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