Jabriel Ballentine:Leaving the party, not the Party – Resignation letter to DC Republican Committee
I met Jabriel Ballentine last year at the Blogging While Brown Conference in Atlanta last summer and we’ve kept in touch since then. Jabriel introduced himself last year as a Black Republican living in D.C. So of course we’ve had some great conversations.
Jabriel reached out to me over the weekend alerting me to his decision to leave the DC Republican Committee. He shared with me his letter of resignation which I am posting in full. Jabriel has agreed to come on the Blog Talk program to talk more about his decision as well as the election of Michael Steele as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Jabriel Ballentine: Leaving the party, not the Party – An Open Letter to the DC Republican Committee
I had initially felt it better to simply leave quietly; however the party has asked me to make a statement, and I must oblige. I start by saying: “I am leaving the party, not the Party!” But, why am I resigning my membership?
The DC Republican Committee (DCRC) has proven itself not only ineffective but also apathetic to the needs of an inner-city, predominantly Black community. Through my own rebuffed efforts and from knowledge of similar expressions of others, these sentiments have been confirmed. The DCRC remains more of a “members-only” city club that seems to prefer its exclusivity to actual political organizing.
In his book, Party Government, E. E. Schattschneider defines a political party “in terms of its purpose and in terms of the methods used to attain its purpose.” He goes on to describe the primary purpose of a political party as the attainment of power, which is “control of the government.” Schattschneider says that the very life of a party is founded upon either the possession of power or the reasonable expectation that the efforts expended will be successful in the near future.
He says that one does not make something a party simply be calling it a party. The existence of a political party, ergo, is rooted in fact and not in nomenclature. The seminal question is thus: does an organization – in fact – have control of the government, or does it – in fact – have the ability to create popular belief that it will take control of the government in the near future.
Clearly, the DCGOP does not have control of the District Government. Moreover, we must be certain that there are few if any who would sincerely believe it possible for the DCGOP to attain control of the District Government in the near future. Dr. Schattschneider is the former President of the American Political Science Association and a Columbia University educated scholar. Unless we are willing to argue that his statements have no merit, we must agree that the DCGOP is not a political party.
So, I am leaving the party, but not the Party. I must be about the business of political organizing. And, that is something the DCRC seems – at present – unwilling to do. In the face of stinging National and local defeats, the DCGOP seems committed to a failed (so-called urban) agenda of platitudes that lack the ability to gain popular support.
Chairman Kabel says we need to renew our image. But, how do we renew that image by putting forward the same faces? How is it that in a city where the population is about 60% Black, the DCRC Leadership (Chair, Committeeman & Committeewoman) is 100% White?
The common method by which a party achieves its purpose is through popular support. How does the DCRC envision building support amongst Black people with an all-White and socially detached leadership? Do we really expect the people en masse to accept the hand-picked Blacks that will be sent to them in a feigned effort at “diversity?”
In the aftermath of the Obama Election, “change” is definitely the buzz word. And, obviously we need change. Yet, the DCRC rather take issue with me for embracing change than with itself for remaining obstinate. DC is Chocolate City – whether you like it or not. So, any party that intends to be viable must either embrace and address the issues of the majority or hope and wait for gentrification. It seems as if the DCRC is placing its chips on the latter.
There is no excuse for the failings of the DCRC. This city is run by Democrats…run into the ground by Democrats. And, the District is failing all of its residents, especially Black Washingtonians.
The District has one of the most corrupt governments in the Union. We have the worst schools. We are competitive for the worst crime rates and worst healthcare. The District has one of the highest rates of unemployment and (by far) the highest rate of chronic homelessness. No one with a pulse can deny that
“Change Must Come to DC!”
All of this lackluster governance in a Democrat-controlled City. Yet despite the malfeasance in government, the DCGOP remains powerless – unable to show any viability. Our Leadership touts “all the gains” made by the party while people are forced to live in filth. I cannot, in good conscience, remain part of a club that considers self-serving power of more value than the empowering principles of republicanism.
So, I am leaving the party, but not the Party. I am and will remain true to the principles of Frederick Douglass, Charles Sumner and others. And should the DCGOP come to remember those principles, commit to their application, and refrain from exclusivity I will eagerly work to be of use to the party. In the meantime, I must seek out and join with those who are serious about the work of political organizing and upliftment to more than just a chosen few.
As such, I am resigning my membership in the DC Republican Committee effective immediately.
Chair, DC Black Republican Council