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Teacher of the year Nate Bowling explains ‘schism’ between GOP and African Americans

Nathan Gibbs-Bowling, a teacher at Lincoln High School, who was named Washington State Teacher of the Year speaks to students at the school in Tacoma, Wash. (David Montesino/The News Tribune via AP)
LISTEN: Teacher of the year Nate Bowling explains ‘schism’ between GOP and African Americans

Tacoma teacher Nate Bowling has a lot of titles: teacher of the year; podcaster; African American; and at times, Republican.

“I don’t describe myself as a Republican today, but if I look back historically to the figures that I revere the most, they have been Lincoln and Earl Warren,” Bowling told the Todd Herman Show. “Honestly, due to polarization and a whole bunch of reasons, that party doesn’t exist anymore. At one point, I was vice president of my college Republicans, then somewhere between 9/11 and the war in Iraq, I was not sure if I belonged on this island either.”

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Speaking on a Conservative talk show, it was hard to avoid the divide between Republicans and African Americans. Or to put it more frankly, as Herman stated: “Why do Republicans suck at talking with African Americans?” The answer is simple for Bowling.

“The answer is they benefit from getting the vote of people who are low-income voters who aren’t fond of African Americans,” Bowling said. “Basically, the Republican Party had a decision to make after the signing of the Civil Rights Act. They basically said, ‘We can win the south and take the south from the Democratic Party, but that is going to take us becoming the party of racial resentment.’”

“So what you have is these Dixiecrat voters who were the Wallace voters, who become Reagan Democrats, who then become Republicans, who are now the base of the Trump coalition,” Bowling explained. “Throughout American history, the Republican Party had its base in the Northeast. As its base moved to the south, its racial politics have changed.”

Nate Bowling: The schism between Republicans and African Americans

The AP Government & Politics and AP Human Geography teacher notes that this history has created a schism between African Americans and Republicans.

“There is one kind of aspect that runs through Conservativism, which is a skepticism of the federal government and an embrace of local control and states’ rights,” Bowling said. “But for African Americans, historically, states’ rights have been states’ rights to segregate and discriminate. That’s one of the schisms that I think is hard to square.”

“If you say to an African American person, ‘I want states’ rights and local control,’ that is coded language that sets off a very big alert in our heads about what states’ rights and local control looked like in the past,” he said.

Despite holding some opinions as a Conservative, Bowling said that he doesn’t teach as a Conservative. The goal is to create educated thinkers.

“I don’t care if my students are Conservatives, but I want them to be a David Brooks Conservative who can articulate their beliefs, or if one day they can write like George Will that would be great,” he said. “What I don’t want them being are these belligerent, mean people – I might get in trouble with the Breitbart commenters, but that’s not what I want for my students. I don’t care what my students believe, I care that they think.”

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