Political party affiliation



How did you determine your political party affiliation? Were you “born into it?”  Did you want to support a particular presidential candidate in a primary election?  Did something happen —-historically or otherwise—- which “encouraged” your decision?

According to a 2014 analysis done by the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of registered voters call themselves Independents.  Reasons cited for this include desires to vote for issues rather than political parties, failure of political parties to align with one’s full set of beliefs, desires to determine one’s vote without the instruction of a political party, an inability to feel “welcomed” in either the Republican or Democratic Parties, and one’s frustration with the “political blame game.”

Meet Condoleezza Rice, Ph.D.  Rice served as the 66th United States Secretary of State in the administration of President George W. Bush. This history maker was the first female African-American Secretary of State, the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor —-a role she fulfilled during President Bush’s first term—and the youngest person, as well as, the first woman and first black to be named provost of Stanford University.

Among a long list of accomplishments, Rice is currently the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution; and a professor of political science at Stanford University.

Although a Republican today, Rice was first a Democrat.  Having been born in 1954 in Birmingham, Ala., at a time when the South was notoriously and racially segregated, Rice is no stranger to the complexities of race relations in America.  Note, one of her kindergarten classmates was among the four girls killed in the 1963 bombing of a Baptist church by white supremacists.

In 1975, Rice worked as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the State Department during the Administration of President James Earl (“Jimmy”) Carter, Jr.  She was a Democrat then, but in 1982 Rice changed her political party affiliation to Republican.  She has given two main reasons for during so.

One reason, Rice disapproval of President Carter’s response to the 1979 Soviet Union’s invasion to Afghanistan. Rice cited the other reason at the 2000 National Republican Convention.  There she said, “The first Republican that I knew was my father John Rice and he is still the Republican that I admire most. My father joined our Party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did.”

How many choose their political party affiliation for personal reasons?

During a press conference on the Nov. 5, 2008, then-Secretary of State Rice looked proud while stating, “President-elect Obama was inspirational and I’m certain that he will continue to be. The Department of State will do everything that it can and I will personally do everything that I can to make sure this is a smooth transition…One of the great things about representing this country is that it continues to surprise; It continues to renew itself; It continues to beat all odds and expectations. You just know that Americans are not going to be satisfied until they really do form that perfect union and while the perfect union may not ever be in sight, we just keep working at it and trying. And I just want to close on a more personal note.  As an African-American I am especially proud because this is a country that has overcome a long journey in terms of overcoming {inaudible} and making race not the factor in our lives. That work is not done but yesterday was obviously an extraordinary step forward and I wanted to have an opportunity to say that to you…”

Rice consciously decided her political party affiliation. How could she have known that her decision would position her to offer Mr. Barack Obama a friendly face and assist with making his presidential transition a smooth one?  How could anyone?

Keisha Bell is an Attorney, author and public servant.

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