Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=102759
Story Retrieval Date: 5/23/2013 6:20:40 AM CST
The Rev. Raymond Dix Jr. at his home in Merrillville, Ind. Dix is the only member of his family who supports Sen. John McCain for president.
Pastor stands alone in support of Republican Party
Being an African-American and not supporting Barack Obama for president could not feel lonelier for the Rev. Raymond Dix Jr.
His parents and two brothers are all Democrats and excited that an African-American could become president.
“I’m alone and it’s been tough,” said Dix, who has been a pastor for 20 years in Gary. “We owe to the people who secured our right to vote more than simply voting for a candidate based on his skin color.”
Dix, who said he keeps his political views out of his sermons at Berean Fellowship Baptist Church, used to vote Democratic until the 2000 presidential election. Dix said he was troubled by Democratic policies he believed were not in the best interests of African-Americans.
“[Democrats] have gotten our vote for so long, and I determined that black people were not getting the bang for their buck,” Dix said. “The Democratic Party has perpetuated this ‘I’m a victim’ mentality, and that’s especially harmful to African-Americans.”
Dix is pro-life and a proponent of extensive school choice, issues he said better align him with the Republican Party. He has written opinion columns for the Post-Tribune in Gary for the past four months.
Dix’s father, Raymond Sr., is an Obama supporter and has read all of his son’s often-conservative columns.
“Let’s just say he hasn’t convinced any of the family to switch,” said the senior Dix, a retired steel worker. “My son is stubborn and I don’t know where he got that from. We’re not just voting on the pride factor, but that [Obama’s] qualified, intelligent and a viable candidate.”
The father and son admit to many arguments over the phone about Obama and the election. When the extended family gets together, including Raymond Sr.’s eight grandchildren, the odds do not improve for his son.
“Everybody shouts him down,” his father laughed. “The Obama programs will impact the black community. The Republicans haven’t helped us.”
The Rev. Dix said he has tried to make issues his primary concern in the election. He said too many African-Americans are voting for Obama based on emotion, a choice that will contribute to a victim-like mentality.
A professor of African-American studies and history said he did not want to respond directly to Dix’s contentions, but did say that the Obama campaign has been about empowerment, not victimization.
“There is an assumption that black people don’t approach their vote logically and that’s problematic,” said Clarence Lang, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“The answers lie in the policies at this moment in history. [African-American] interests are better, not best, served with the Democratic Party.”
Raymond Davis has been a member of Berean Fellowship for 12 years. He said he is encouraged that Dix continues to speak out despite overwhelming black support for Obama.
“People have to understand that just because [Dix] won’t vote for Obama doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate and admire the things Obama has accomplished,” said Davis, a recruiter for Purdue University-Calumet’s Upward Bound program. “We have to look at this election outside of its nostalgic value.”
Dix’s father said he does not expect his son to change his views any time soon.
There might be one condition.
“If Obama does well after four years,” he laughed, “it’ll be time for him to reconsider.”