"I am fond of saying that many times Republicans try to do the right thing, but do it the wrong way. Branch Rickey, former president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, scoured the Negro Leagues in 1943 to find the best and brightest baseball players who he could sign to integrate baseball. He wasn’t just looking for raw talent; he was also looking for the “right” person(s).
Jackie Robinson was not the only good ball player in the league back then; for sure he was definitely one of the elite. But he also had the other skillsets that would allow him to endure the racist taunts he was about to encounter as the first Black to play professional baseball with white folks. Rickey chose Robinson not only because of his skill, but also because of his personality which would allow him to keep his composure under the strain of hostility he was about to face. Rickey constantly validated Robinson specifically and constantly discussed publically the need for diversity within baseball and ultimately America.
Where are the Branch Rickey’s of the Republican Party today? There are none. The last one was former N.F.L. quarterback and former congressman Jack Kemp who died in 2009.
I was plucked out of obscurity by the Bush family in St. Louis when I was fresh out of college from Oral Roberts University. They had no prior relationship with me, but they, like Rickey, scoured Missouri politics to find the best person(s) with the right political background; but also with the right temperament to proudly represent the Bush family’s name as the then vice president was about to launch his presidential campaign in 1988. According to them, “they had been following my career and noticing my work in the Republican Party in Missouri.”
My work got me noticed, but my relationships got me opportunity. I didn’t have to run to be a delegate to our party’s national convention, I was told I would be a delegate; and thus it was so. My point is very simple, I grew up in a Republican Party when relationships mattered and the party took care of their own. This is no longer the case. Republicans today spend more time rewarding their enemies versus rewarding their friends. "
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