Wake Forest College Republicans hosted former Louisiana senator and congressional candidate Elbert Guillory on Feb. 12.
Guillory has drawn interest across the country due to his multiple changes in party affiliation. According to The Daily Advertiser, a Louisiana newspaper, Guillory was a registered Republican prior to 2007.
In 2007, he switched to the Democratic Party when he first ran for the state House. Then in 2013, he returned to the Republican Party.
In 2013, he released a video explaining his choice to switch affiliations. In the video, he said that he believes the Republican Party is better for blacks.
“The left is only concerned with one thing: control,” Guillory said.
“Programs such as welfare, food stamps; these programs aren’t designed to lift black Americans out of poverty. They were always intended as a mechanism for politicians to control the black community.”
When he met with students on campus, rather than giving a lecture, he encouraged a more open discussion. He began by introducing himself, and talking about the events in his life that shaped his career and beliefs as a politician.
Guillory was arrested at a public library when he was 15 years old for sitting in the library after the librarian refused to let him check out a book. He has said in a previous interview with the National Review that this was a driving force in his life.
Another shaping event in his political career happened to him at the age of 17. Guillory was the Editor-in-chief of his school’s newspaper, but a year later, he was expelled from his school at gunpoint because his articles focused on the issues of civil rights.
“The United States is not perfect, but it’s come a long way in my lifetime,” Guillory said.
Although Guillory thinks the country has come a long way in his lifetime, he still believes it faces important challenges ahead.
When asked of the biggest single issue facing the U.S. today, he responded national funding — in particular, the national debt.
“It will affect every decision Americans make over the next decade,” Guillory said.
“There is no money for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Students asked Guillory what the government can do to control the deficit and cut back on programming. He said that it must put a ceiling on debt and should cut back on “just about everything.” He said that the government should cut back on social security, because it is unstable and unsustainable.
Another main issue that he addressed was education. Guillory said that the education system in the U.S. has deteriorated over the past several decades.
He compared current standardiszed test scores to those from his childhood — amid the civil rights movement — and claimed that they are worse now than when “separate but equal” was still legal in schools. Guillory said that education is an area where the U.S. must improve to compete globally.
“We cannot compete on an international basis, and we can’t grow anything, like the economy, with an illiterate country,” Gillory said.
Later on, when asked how the government can strengthen schools, he said that they should take disruptive children out of the classroom so others can learn.
“The federal government said that the bad kid has to stay in the classroom,” Guillory said. “They should put that kid in a better environment.”
However, he also said that the federal government should leave guidelines on education to states.
“I don’t believe that federal interruption in education has been successful,” Guillory said.
Several students from the College Republicans found the discussion valuable.
“Senator Guillory spoke extensively on the ways in which the left has created a culture of dependence that is harmful to American welfare as a whole,” said Joe Macy, president of College Republicans.
“We hope his message will reach across several generations to renew core values to ensure a better future.”
Another student shared Macy’s enthusiasm for the event.
“For me, it’s nice to see a good turnout, because a young crowd isn’t [usually interested] in politics,” said graduate student Eric Henderson.