WASHINGTON — Though Colin Powell has admitted that he voted for Barack Obama in two consecutive elections, he is also quick to point out that he voted for Republicans in seven consecutive Presidential elections before that.
So why has Powell, who still identifies himself as a Republican, turned away from the party that made him secretary of state? He told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that it has everything to do with a “dark vein of intolerance” that he believes has developed within the GOP.
“In recent years, there has been a significant shift to the right for the Republicans,” Powell said. “And we have seen what that shift has produced: Two losing presidential campaigns.”
Powell said that shift has led the Republican party to ignore the cries of minorities and those who may be struggling financially. That trend, Powell continued, could prove to be detrimental to the party if the current shift the U.S.’s demographics continues.
“When we see that in one more generation, the minorities of America – African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans – are going to become the majority, you can’t go around saying we don’t want to have a solid immigration policy, we’re going to dismiss the 47 percent, we are going to make it hard for these minorities to vote,” Powell said.
“If the Republican party does not change with this country’s demographic, they’re going to be in trouble.”
Powell did not completely lambaste the party with which he still identifies. In fact, he praised the bygone eras of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Cap Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, Dick Lugar and John Tower specifically.
“I grew up with (those men),” Powell said. “I’m still a Republican, but I think the Republican party is having an identity problem.”
Powell went so far as to say that the Republican party may have a problem with racism.
“There is a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” Powell said. “They still sort of look down on the minority.”
As evidence for this claim, Powell referenced comments from former Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. Also a former GOP governor of Alaska, Palin Palin used the term “shuck and jive” to describe Obama’s response to the Benghazi attack.
“That’s a racial-era, slave term,” Powell said.
Powell also referenced comments from John Sununu, a former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff under former President George H.W. Bush. Sununu said Obama lost the first Presidential debate in Denver because he was “lazy.”
“That may not mean anything to most Americans,” Powell said of the word choice. “But to those of us who are African Americans, the second word (in that saying) is shiftless and then there’s a third word.”
That third word, which completes a phrase often used during Jim Crowe-era, is a racial epithet used to describe African Americans.
The birthing debate was also mention by Powell as evidence of intolerance.
“Why do senior Republican party leaders even tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?” Powell asked.
After all of his questioning and critiques, Powell offered what he believes to be a potential solution that could aid his party as it prepares for the Presidential election in 2016.
“The (Republican) party has gathered unto itself a reputation that it is the party of the rich; it is the party of lower taxes,” Powell said. “But there are a lot of people who are lower down the food chain who are also paying lots of taxes relative to their income. And they need help.
“There are a lot of things that the people in this latter demographic want, and the Republican party can’t afford to ignore them anymore.”