A few weeks ago, I had never heard of Elbert Guillory. Today, in some circles, he is a national celebrity. Guillory is a Louisiana state senator who has served there since winning a special election in 2009. Previously, Guillory spent two years in the state’s House of Representatives. Some say that Guillory’s most notable action since becoming a state lawmaker occurred a few weeks ago — when Guillory announced he was switching parties, from Democrat to Republican.
When he switched parties, Guillory garnered mounds of national media attention, even appearing on Fox News’ Hannity. Guillory has also become a YouTube sensation after releasing this video that explains why he chose to switch parties. So far, it’s had over 700,000 views and has been played on the popular Rush Limbaugh Program. To conclude the video, Guillory asks folks in the “American community” to “join with me in abandoning the government plantation and the party of disappointment.” Strong words that no doubt startled many in the political class who subscribe to the notion that skin color should determine a person’s political ideology. After sitting down with Senator Guillory for an interview on Friday, I think it’s safe to say he strongly disagrees with that notion.
Senator Guillory, who was in town over the weekend to participate in the Republican Party of Arkansas’s summer meeting, told me he became a Republican at this time because of values:
At this time — the reason and the timing are very similar. During the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about this on issues of guns, of family, of big government spending. On all of those values issues, the national Democrat Party and the Louisiana Democrat Party have been moving so far to the left and so fast that I was not comfortable anymore. Finally, the head of the state Democrat Party made some comments saying that only people who are racists would oppose Obamacare and the only reason they would oppose Obamacare is because the President is African-American.
That was such an obscene statement. My mom saw it — she’s 103 years old — mom called me (lifelong Democrat) and said “Elbert, I know you’re not a part of this. You just cannot be a part of this. That would reflect terribly upon our family.” A couple of hours later, I made the change. I was ready to do it, I was planning to do it. She just gave me that last little push.
Hoping to learn more about Senator Guillory’s philosophy regarding the role of government in our lives, I asked him if he’s always held conservative beliefs or if he has recently undergone an ideological conversion. Emphatically, he told me he has always been a conservative, “I would say from two or three years old. I come from a conservative family. We have always been a values family.”
Now that Senator Guillory is a member of the GOP, I asked him how he thinks the Republican Party can reach minorities. Does he subscribe to the prevailing “wisdom” that Republicans need to moderate and water-down their beliefs to “stay relevant?”
That’s horse hockey. The black community is very conservative. The values that you and I were just talking about are the values espoused and embraced in all the black churches in my district on every sunday morning. That’s what the preachers preach about, that’s what the folks feel. We don’t have to change. But we have to get our message out so that the minority community will understand who we are. We’ve let the Democrats redefine us and paint us as the part of rich, elite, white men who hate everything — including progress and minority folks. We just have to let folks know that’s ridiculous.
To clarify — as if “horse hockey” wasn’t clear enough — I asked again if he outright rejects the idea that the Republican Party needs to change its principles in order to reach minorities:
I absolutely reject that. I just got here — don’t change! I came!
Lastly, I asked Sen. Guillory if he believes President Obama has been good or bad for the black community:
I think that he has been terrible for America and he has been even worse than terrible for the black community. By using his skin color, he has helped to keep our community in his hip pocket, in the hip pocket of his party.
Citing immigration “reform” as a recent example, Guillory said Obama has divided America. Conversely, he believes the Republican Party should be a party of opportunity, saying he’s willing to pitch in and help take that message to the minority community. He believes the message will be very well received because “the majority of minorities and African-Americans are conservative.”