Felice Pete, president of the Wake County Republican Women, told local residents that she’s long taken heat for being black and Republican. She “came out” as a Republican when she was an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill, a school known for being both progressive and liberal.
“It was very difficult being conservative and black and not falling in line with the liberal standard on a college campus. It was extremely hard and extremely lonely,” related Pete. “…I was an outcast.”
Pete, a Raleigh nurse anesthetist, spoke to a crowd of about 50 on Feb. 28 on the West Campus of Forsyth Technical Community College. She was the guest speaker at the regular monthly gathering of Forsyth County Republican Women.
Pete told her fellow Republicans to hold fast to the values and ideals that she says make the party great. Despite the flack she’s received over the years, Pete, the mother of an 18-month-old son, said she has never wavered in her political beliefs.
“I am a ‘little r’ Republican, because it is the noun republicanism, because I do it everyday. It is my lifestyle – it’s not just the party,” she remarked. “I’m like this everyday; I’ve always got a Constitution and a Bible verse.”
Pete, who calls herself a born-again Christian, took aim at President Obama’s religious beliefs, calling him “a guy who kind of has no religion, likes to kill babies and really is not for women at all.”
She said the black community has suffered under his administration, citing disproportionately high unemployment rates and what she says has been a lack of support for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“Not only has he said things are well, he’s gotten rid of his jobs council, but yet he cares about black people – that’s what Democrats say,” she told the group. “…That’s what Democrats have done for many years is taken advantage of black people’s votes on the notion of civil rights.”
White House officials say the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which was never envisioned solely as a driver for urban or minority job growth, was only chartered for two years and that the president chose not to renew the charter in order to focus on new job creation avenues in his second term.
Pete called the progressive agenda “lip service” that actually makes it more difficult for the poor and disenfranchised to find their way out of their current situations. Democrats, she added, choose their position on issues based upon what they believe will help build their support base. She criticized the president for his stances on raising minimum wage, which she said would be a “job killer,” and immigration.
“If they thought it was a bunch of Canadians … coming down to escape socialism and vote for freedom, do you think they wouldn’t seal those borders up? It’s all about securing that voting bloc,” she said, inferring that Democrats are pushing for immigration reform to win Hispanic votes.
Pete, who is in her third term as president of the Wake County GOP, urged her fellow party members to bone up on the major issues and where the party stands on them, so they can defend the conservative platform when it is threatened.
“As Republicans, you have to articulate Republicanism, because it will stand on it’s own merit,” she declared. “…You’ve got to know more than ever. Don’t let them (liberals) back you down. Republicanism is great.”
Local Republican women in attendance shot down the notion that there is a “war on women” being waged by the Republican Party. The term was coined during the ’12 election season when failed GOP Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made controversial comments about rape and Rush Limbaugh and others of the right lashed out at contraceptive advocate Sandra Fluke.
JoAnn Dunn, Forsyth County Republican Women’s vice president of public relations, dismissed the so-called war, calling it a misrepresentation of what many women value.
“I guess we don’t feel that abortion and contraception is the only thing that interests women; mainly when they talk about a war on women, that’s what they’re talking about,” said Dunn, a Louisville, Ken. native who has called Winston-Salem home for many years. “We think right now that women are more concerned about proper education for our children and the national debt that’s going to shackle us all.”
Dunn, a former educator, said the Republican party has been stereotyped as a group of “rich people who don’t care about the poor.” She said conservatives simply believe in self-reliance.
“I would love to see a country where people are encouraged to be self-reliant,” remarked the grandmother of 10. “…We’re just getting a welfare mentality, even young people.”
Forsyth County Republican Women President Lori Clark said the group continues to seek ways to relay the conservative message to a broader audience. She admits the group has work to do in that regard.
“It’s not about being purple, black or white. It’s about this country and what we were founded on,” declared the mother of one, who made an unsuccessful bid for the Board of Education in 2010. “That’s what we are all about.”
For more information about the Forsyth County Republican Women, visit forsythrepublicanwomen.org or call 336-972-2074.