Not a single invited member of the Republican leadership accepted an invitation to attend the official March on Washington anniversary event yesterday.
This is practically all that needs to be said. That fact alone is sufficient to show an appalling lack of leadership, respect, common sense, common purpose, values and priorities within the highest reaches of the party.
Everyone had a “good reason,” of course—Boehner, Canter, McConnell, McCain, Romney, both Bushes, But the excuses don’t matter. A responsible, intelligent, public minded, fair and statesmanlike political organization would have made certain that a representative delegation attended, and prominently so. How or why no major Republican figures were present is irrelevant. If the commemoration of the March on Washington, Dr. King’s iconic and transformative speech, and the cultural transformation of America that they helped achieve are as important to the party as they must be--because of the GOP’s origins, because of what it represents, and because, dammit, Republicans are Americans, then attendance was mandatory. They manage to make it to the State of the Union and Presidential inaugurations, because they recognize it as important to do so. They should be able to recognize that showing solidarity with the Democrats, African-Americans and the public on the core principle of equal rights for all is even more important.
Fox and conservative commentators are focusing on the fact that Tim Scott, the South Carolina Republican who is the only African-American in the U.S. Senate, was not invited to the event. Yes, that was either an outrageous snub or a terrible oversight, but that doesn’t matter either: he should have come on his own, and the conservative media is missing the real scandal. For the party they support just disgraced itself, insulting minorities, the memory of a great American, our founding values and their own legacy in the process. This not only showed narrowness, pettiness, and stupidity; it showed incompetence and a deficit of patriotism as well.