by John Hawkins | May 5, 2010 6:38 am
The Republican Party has a huge problem that few people are addressing. Simply put, Republicans do very poorly with minorities. As a general rule, we get about 1/10 of the black vote, 1/3 of the Hispanic vote, and about 1/4 of the Jewish vote. If this seems like a huge problem today, wait until 2050 when whites are a minority in the United States. If voting patterns don’t change, that will mean that the radical liberalism that’s destroying the country today will become the norm forevermore.
So, why are minorities voting Democratic in such numbers? Some of it is issue oriented. Liberals, whatever their race may be, aren’t going to vote for Republicans. Also, people who are lower on the socio-economic scale naturally tend to favor the party that wants to ladle out more taxpayer-funded dole. Given that blacks and Hispanics as a group have fallen behind other Americans economically, that means the Democrats are going to have particularly fertile ground for their message.
However, that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Ever since Reagan, people have been looking at the Christianity and social conservatism of Latinos and saying, “Hispanics are Republican; they just don’t know it yet.” The biggest issue for Jews tends to be the survival of Israel and unquestionably, Republicans are much better on that issue than Democrats. Then there are black Americans. Even setting aside the historical alliance between Republicans and black Americans, most black Americans go to church, they’re opposed to gay marriage, they’re pro-life, they’re anti-illegal immigration, they’re pro-school choice — and these are not inconsequential issues.
So, why is the GOP doing so poorly? Well, Republicans believe it should be all about the issues and we approach it that way. Meanwhile, Democrats believe it should be all about culture. They tell every one of those minority groups that Republicans hate them — and it works, despite the fact that it’s not true. They also tell minorities that their ethnic identity is tied up in voting for the Democratic Party. A good example of this is Jesse Jackson saying, “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.” Then there’s the NAACP. La Raza. CAIR. MALDEF. The Congressional Black Caucus — on and on and on. All these prominent groups implicitly or explicitly try to tie the cultural identity of minorities to the Democratic Party even as they demonize Republicans as “the other.” Republicans are not simply treated as political opponents; they’re treated as racial enemies.
As a general rule, Republicans have a strong negative reaction to these groups not only because they feel unfairly demonized, but because they feel that these groups separate us by race when we should strive to be colorblind. It’s fine to feel that way; I do myself, but as Republicans we have to ask ourselves a basic question: Is our approach working? The honest answer is “No.” Another question: Are we seeing any evidence that the tide is about to turn? Is La Raza about to collapse? Are most black Americans calling for a color-blind world where it matters, say when it comes to Affirmative Action programs? No. It’s just not happening.
So, if our approach isn’t working and isn’t going to work, isn’t it time to change it? Saul Alinsky would certainly say so. In his book Rules for Radicals he said, “one communicates within the experience of his audience — and gives full respect to the other’s values.” Isn’t it time we took his advice? The Republican message has failed to reach minorities for decades, while the Democrats have found a message that works extremely well. Shouldn’t we be copying their approach instead of doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result?
Many Republicans blanch at this suggestion even though they’ve already partially bought into it. How many Republicans accept Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “leaders” of the black community? How many Republicans treat CAIR as a legitimate representative for Muslims? How many Republicans are honest enough to admit that they get a little extra-excited about Marco Rubio because he’s Hispanic, Sarah Palin because she’s a woman, and Michael Steele as RNC Chairman because he’s black? That doesn’t mean it’s all about race or sex, but whether we like it or not, we’re playing the same game; we’re just doing it halfheartedly.
Since that’s the case, we’ve got to make a choice. Do we start really doing what it takes to get minorities into the Republican Party or do we cede them forever to the Democrats? Do we want people like Jesse Jackson to be treated as a “black leader” or do we want him to be the leader of “liberal black Americans?” Do we want Al Sharpton being treated as the arbiter of what’s offensive to black America or do we want a conservative black man having a public voice on those issues, too? Do we want groups like La Raza to be treated as representatives of the Hispanic community or do we want to have a group of Hispanic conservatives that’s just as well known calling out Democrats for racism against Latinos?
Making cultural changes takes time. It’s also not cheap. For example, in the black and Hispanic communities, we’d need to fund something akin to a conservative NAACP that could hand out scholarships, help improve neighborhoods — and stand up for Christian issues, better schools and cleaning up neighborhoods. At first, because there are a lot of people who are benefiting from the current system, these people would initially be trashed. Black conservatives would be called Oreos. Hispanic conservatives would be called Coconuts. But, over time, as they spread their message and make a positive difference, people would start to come around. Once you disprove the Left’s lies and make it more culturally respectable to be a Republican, suddenly tens of millions of black and Hispanic Americans would start to look at the Republican Party with fresh eyes. That would be revolutionary because the moment the Democratic Party couldn’t pull in 70 million minority votes by falsely convincing minorities that “Republicans hate you,” it would forevermore change this country for the better.
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