Kathy Barnette: Why is the media trying to whitewash my campaign?

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the “whiteout” that is being performed on my campaign.

In recent days and weeks, there has been a series of articles released by otherwise intelligent media outlets that have neglected to mention my name as a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania. Whether their neglect has been one of an intentional omission or simply fortuitous, the results are the same – they are erecting a Great White Wall around the Republican primary candidates that is blacking out the only Black Republican candidate in this race. I don’t know exactly why it keeps happening, but it is 100% unacceptable and must stop now.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect those media outlets that lean left to ignore me. After all, I’m the Democrats’ worst nightmare. I check off too many of their own boxes, but I’m not a Democrat. I’m a conservative Republican. The worst thing they can allow other Black folks (and the nation, for that matter) to know is that you can be Black and NOT be a Democrat. You can be Black and think for yourself. You can be a Black person who loves their country, wants to see everyone do well, and refuses to live a life of victimhood. The last thing these Democrat-leaning media outlets want is for other Black people to know that, in America, if you work hard, keep your nose clean, and follow some basic rules of the road, you can carve out a life for yourself that is not dependent upon the government and their handouts.

Almost every article I’ve read discussing Republican candidates starts and finishes with how rich the person is and how much of their own money they will contribute to this race. Conversely, I have never read an article that even mentions the Democrat candidates’ personal wealth.  I’ve never read an article that measures a Democrat candidate’s viability based on how rich they are, how much of their own money they will donate to their campaign, and I’ve never seen one article overlooking the only Black Democrat in the race.

It is my hope that Republican leaders will not be beguiled by this sleight of hand.  Whether we want to admit it or not, Republicans are often portrayed in the culture as old, rich, white men and their sisters who are completely out of touch with the struggles of most Americans. I am here to show that this portrayal is not true. Nevertheless, we must begin to acknowledge the power of this false portrayal of the Republican Party because Democrats and many in the media were able to convince a whole lot of Americans to vote against their own best interest in the 2020 General Election and to vote for Biden instead.

The media appears to be desperately looking for a particular “type” of person to lead this race and to coalesce the Republican Party. A “type” that makes sense to them. A “type” that perhaps looks more like an old, rich, White man or his sister. Any other “type” of candidate appears to cause them an unusual degree of dissonance in how they think about what a Republican candidate should look like, act like, where they come from, and, more specifically, how rich they are. Many of our so-called thought leaders are walking around with a three-ring binder that has one sheet of paper in it. On one side of the paper, it reads, “This is how it has always been.” On the other side, it says, “…and this is how it will always be.” It’s time to throw away that sheet of paper.

There is nothing natural about the times we are living in. We are, in many respects, in unchartered waters. I can’t remember another time when we had so many rogue and weak “leaders” running our country – from both sides of the aisle. Soft men [and women] make for hard times, and we’re certainly living in hard times. I don’t believe the American people will continue to put up with the same-old, same-old “type” of anything for much longer. I’ve found this to be particularly true in the case of my campaign.

I grew up below the bottom rung of the economic ladder. I grew up extremely impoverished. I grew up in a home with no insulation, no running water, an outhouse in the back, and a well on the side of the house. I remember my dear sweet grandmother, Grandma Hattie, asking me to help her in the garden. I thought she just wanted to spend quality time with me, but when I grew up, I realized that, in part, that garden was a part of our survival. If we wanted beans, or greens, or potatoes we had to go grow them. I did not learn about poverty from a book. I didn’t read a spreadsheet and memorize some numbers to spew out at people.

I know exactly what it feels like to sit in a dark room because my single-parent mother could not pay for both the rent and the light bill. I know exactly what it feels like to stand in front of an empty refrigerator and wonder where my next meal was going to come from. More importantly, however, I know what I did to make sure my own children would grow up not knowing the feelings of hunger or the feelings of having inadequate winter clothes. I charted a new course for my life. This lived experience that I bring to the campaign trail doesn’t allow me to be crippled by the very real feelings of being marginalized, sized up, and discarded as “not viable.” I learned how to see my own worth and I realized early on that in America, I get to define who I am.

So, who am I? I am the first person in my family to finish college. I am a veteran who spent ten years in the U.S. military where I was accepted into Officer Candidacy School. I am someone who spent several years in the financial industry, analyzing hundreds of companies. I am a woman who worked in the comptroller’s department of a large company. I was an adjunct professor of Corporate Finance. I am a news contributor. I am an author. I was a homeschool mama. And now, I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate. All of this, and so much more, only happens in America.  My campaign is not simply an assumption of what one may think about me.  I know who I am.  I am the American Dream.

Putting aside those left-leaning media outlets that I expect to want to ignore my candidacy, I am so thankful to the Republican electorate. Republican “voters” are the best.  Like our country, they are not perfect, but no one is running a close second.  They have embraced my campaign. Admittedly, when I walk into a room full of Republicans, I am usually the only Black person in the room.  I am embraced.  I am encouraged.  They have come alongside my campaign with their words of inspiration, their time, and their money.  They are not blind, so of course, they see the color of skin. But more importantly, they see a sister in the fight for our beloved Republic. I am a private citizen who looked around and said, “We can do better.”  With a passionate team of people, I set out to make my belief known, and even though some “journalists” refuse to acknowledge it, the Republican electorate has acknowledged my belief and my campaign, time and time again.

So, do Republican voters have a say in who their Republican candidate will be? Or, not?

Because of Republican voters, I am the only candidate who has consistently ranked second in almost every Franklin & Marshall poll that has been put out. In many of those same polls, when you remove the margin of error, I was ranked neck-and-neck with the Trump-endorsed candidate. There are those who are actively attempting to diminish this triumph. I have not had the privilege of riding other people’s coattails or their private helicopters. As a private citizen, I raised my hand, stepped forward, and the electorate is acknowledging it.

Because of Republican voters, I out-fundraised both of my more well-connected primary opponents when I first jumped into this race, which is no small feat considering I didn’t inherit a call list of wealthy donors. They both came to the starting line with me with a much larger platform than my own and I outworked them both. Almost every dollar I’ve raised is from relationships I had to go out and build with real people.  I had to convince each and every donor that this campaign is a good investment. And I did and continue to do just that person by person.

Because of Republican voters, I am the only candidate who is holding packed-out Town Hall meetings across the Commonwealth. Furthermore, I’m the only candidate who has allowed the public to attend these Town Halls so they can ask me any question they want on the very real kitchen-table topics every American family is discussing right now. I am the only candidate who went out and spent about three months with those in our agriculture industry. I would think the Republican Party would understand the strength of determination in my campaign.

So here I am, raising money, connecting with people, and moving people into my corner. I’m hands-down out-working my primary opponents. So, why am I being ignored? What is so different about my campaign that makes people covering it choose to dismiss it out of the gate?

Being White, old, rich and a man are not the only pre-requisites of a Republican candidate. Not anymore. My campaign proves that – and my campaign is the only campaign in this race that truly makes any sense. I am proud of my team and of what we’ve accomplished and what we continue to accomplish each and every day, despite the media’s attempt to silence us. We’re just like our country – young, strong, and scrappy. And this scrappy candidate could no longer stand by and allow “journalists” who should know better to continue to ignore a movement that’s happening in our campaign and in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s time we tear down the Great White Wall they’ve built around this primary race.

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Kathy Barnette

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