by Jeff Swanson
It’s pretty clear from the post election Conservative fits that the Republican Party is going to fail at capturing minority votes. Just downright fail. As much as I hope against hope the party will alert itself to the growing minority population, we are destined to be old white guys.
I’m not even that old. Middle aged perhaps.
Since the election, I’ve seen much talk about the need to get minority voters to the Republican Party. You’d think, reading my words, that I was the head of the ostrich stuck in the proverbial sand. You’d be wrong.
Sure, I’ve seen rightward posts such as Byron York at the Washington Examiner, “Republicans faced two big problems. The first is that a lot of black voters turned out. The second is that a lot of white voters didn’t.”
To be clear, Byron is one of my favorite writers (and guest on Bill Bennett’s radio show). This is by no means a denigration of Byron. Still he misses the point altogether.
You might even see this discussion at NRO by John Fund, “Now that Florida has been called for Barack Obama by the slimmest of margins, Republicans have to confront the fact that they lost the Sunshine State because of weakness in a key demographic they used to own: Cuban Americans.”
All of this seems fairly logical. I agree with the logic and find nothing inaccurate in either writer’s assessment of the facts. At all.
Still, they completely miss the point. So as to stop being coy, what’s the point?
Minority groups are not statistics. They are not a demographic. They are people.
As noted by Crystal Wright at Conservative Black Chick, “Romney and the RNC spent millions of dollars in advertising to Hispanics, yet he failed to chip away at that voting bloc because people can tell when you don’t really care about their vote.”
This is, no pun intended, a clear crystallization of problem; people can tell when you care about them.
Further stated by Crystal, “A year ago, the RNC hired me to create a black outreach website to attract more blacks to the Republican Party. After near completion of the site in the late spring of 2012, Romney and the RNC killed the project, explaining they didn’t want to launch the site without putting outreach activities behind it. I agreed and recommended a slate of outreach activities such as town hall meetings at historically black colleges and universities in swing states such as Virginia and North Carolina. The RNC’s refused to fund any black outreach activities.”
This, I think, explains much. Why would a minority electorate vote for a party that won’t even try?
If you recall the Republican convention, it was minorities en regalia. It was the Republican party putting on a show. It was, for all intents and purposes, lip service. It was not a very effective display of an inclusive party. It was a front.
While this may ring of cynicism, is this wrong?
The key is to not lose a recent election and go running for the first minority group for solace. To affirm that as Republicans, we are not that bad. We’re not. Still, it appears we’re not that great either.
The one note song of Republicans remains true, we are the party of opportunity. It matters little about your race or enthnicity. It matter what you do. It’s a great message.
If you bother communicating directly to the source.
More pointedly, delivering this message for one very simple reason; it’s the right thing to do. That’s it.
If Republicans look to minorities to win an election, it will never happen. The Democrats have been doing this for decades and have the skill down to a science. Republicans shouldn’t even care if minority outreach affects the party in 2016.
Asking minorities to come to the party is like asking someone to join a family. Do you warm someone to the idea of joining a family by pointing out what a convenient demographic they are? No and that’s laughable.
This seems to be the message of the naval gazing right wing pundits.
You have someone join the family because you enjoy their company. They join the family because they want to be around you.
Would you join a family because you are a handy demographic? Never.
Noted by Condoleezza Rice, “clearly we are losing important segments of that electorate and what we have to do is to appeal to those people not as identity groups but understanding that if you can get the identity issue out of the way then you can appeal on the broader issues that all Americans share a concern for.”
Key within her statement is to stop thinking in terms of identity groups. Sure, we’ve long said this needs to be done. And realistically, to begin outreach, you must reach out to, well, an identity group.
The greater point remains to actually start outreach but to also consider the motive. Are Republicans trying to beef up election numbers? If so, good luck.
To welcome minorities to the party, it has to be more than a numbers game. It has to be the right thing to do. It has to be for reasons of valuing the input and experiences brought to the table.
Simply put, it is about respect.
The Republican Party has done a woefully poor job at this. No wonder minorities don’t much trust Republicans, there is little reason to.