Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rebuilding The Republican Party: Minority Outreach

Today we return to our Rebuilding the Republican Party series. One of the issues that has befuddled the Republican Party is minority outreach. There is no inherent reason that half of all minorities should not be Republicans -- most racism occurs on the left (as it has historically), Republican policies are not anti-minority, and Republicans can hardly be called unwelcoming to minorities. Yet, Republican outreach doesn’t work. Here’s why and how to fix it.

Why Republicans Fail At Minority Outreach

The Republicans make three critical mistakes when it comes to minority outreach. First, they do it rarely and cynically. Secondly, and more importantly, they stupidly buy into the idea of identity politics and they play right into Democratic hands -- this is critical. Third, they are cowards when it comes to issues of race.
Rare And Cynical Effort Cannot Win You Friends
Every election cycle, the Republicans wring their hands about minority outreach. They talk about it. They appoint committees. They look for black people they can do photo-ops with. Sometimes they even find a candidate who can speak pigeon Spanish. Then the election comes and the outreach ends. Oooh, those minorities must be lining up to vote for us now! See the problem?

People aren’t stupid, even if they speak another language. They know when you’re pandering to them and when you’re genuinely interested. Showing up in a minority neighborhood once every couple of years for a photo-op not only does not convey the message that we are interested in you, it probably offends because it comes across as cynical.

For any effort to be worthwhile, it must be genuine, it must be constant, and it must be sustained. Otherwise, it is counter-productive even to try. So what do the Republicans need to do?
Stop Buying Into Identity Politics
The primary reason Republican outreach fails is that the Republicans have bought into the Democratic idea of identity politics and they are playing on Democratic terrain.

The Democrats want everyone to see minorities as monolithic communities. They want blacks to see themselves as black first and everything else second, and to associate themselves with the “black community.” They want Hispanics to associate themselves with the Hispanic community. And so on. In this way, they can influence the people within these communities, through peer pressure applied by community leaders, by getting these people to see the world through the filter of those communities and the community grievances -- again defined by the community leaders.

The Republicans buy into this hook, line and sinker. When they think about minority outreach, their first thought is “how do we attract members of the ____ community.” They then look for ways to satisfy the grievances laid out by the community leaders. And in so doing, they not only miss the mark -- because they are being misled by the leaders, but they confirm the view that individual minorities are nothing more than members of their collective and that their leaders have accurately defined the desires of the community.

This is horribly destructive thinking by the Republicans. They need to stop seeing minorities as clones. They aren’t. Take Hispanics, for example. Republicans see Hispanics as “Hispanics.” They don’t realize that these people come from two dozen countries. They have a variety of religions, or flavors of religions. They speak in different languages and different dialects, and they came here for different reasons. And most importantly, they have different goals.

Think about it this way. If I asked you to come up with an outreach plan to reach Europeans, could you come up with one plan? And even if you broke it down to different plans for the English and the Germans and the French, could one plan really reach out to an entire country full of people? Could a “white outreach” reach white America? No, it can’t, because we are all different with different beliefs, backgrounds, stations in life, and goals. Yet somehow, when the issue switches to Asians or Hispanics, those differences vanish and people start seeing them as monolithic. That’s the result of falling for the identity politics propaganda of the left, and it needs to stop.

So what do the Republicans need to do? Start looking at the people as individuals. If you want to reach Hispanics, don’t aim for “Hispanics,” aim for individuals who might be receptive to what you have to offer. For example, Republicans should make a push for minority small business people, because our policies are vastly superior for small businesses. We should reach out to their churches, to their middle class workers, to their property owners, their farmers, their home owners, and show them why the Republican Party suits them. Only by winning over the real community leaders, by showing them respect as individual human beings -- not by buying into the idea that they are clones -- can we make significant inroads into these communities.

Again, I’m not saying race can or should be ignored, but it should be a secondary concern, incidental to the reasons the Party is using to reach out to these people.

Further, this effort needs to be undertaken by Republicans everywhere, not just by some committee run by the party. Every Republican officer holder should do the exact same outreach they already do in their white communities in their minority communities as well. This means helping minorities get small business loans and resolving problems with social security and passport issues and other deeds that elected representatives normally do as “constituent services.” It may also mean getting bilingual or trilingual or tailoring specific services. But that’s no different than representatives do right now for other ethnic communities, like German-Americans or Polish-Americans.

That is what Republicans need to do. Stop playing the game created by the left to force these people into these communities. Start treating these people like friends, neighbors and partners, and not as just statistics or “communities.”
Stop Being Cowards On Race: Fight Back On Racism Charges
Finally, Republicans need to stop being cowards on race. The Democrats yell racism and every Republican in the room ducks for cover. It is time for Republicans to call this bluff. Republicans are not the racist ones, the Democrats are. Consider:
• The Democratic Party gave the country slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, segregation, violent opposition to the Civil Rights movement and opposition to civil rights legislation.

• Liberal labor unions worked for years to keep minorities out.

• Liberals dominate the biggest cities, which happen to be the most segregated parts of the country. Despite all their talk, liberal whites simply will not live in minority neighborhoods and they will not send their children to schools with large numbers of minority kids.

• Liberal policies related to race are premised on the racist idea that minorities are inferior to whites. Consider affirmative action. Take away all the flowery language and affirmative action is based on the idea that equality of opportunity is not enough, the law must enforce equality of result. Said differently, affirmative action is premised on the idea that minorities need government help to compete with whites even if they get the same opportunity. That’s racist thinking.
And let me add two other thoughts to this. First, having lived in liberal and conservative locations, I can say without hesitation that liberals are far more likely to use racists words, make racists statements, and tell racists jokes. But when this is pointed out to them, to a one, they respond that their racism isn’t racism because they (liberals) aren’t racists. That's delusional and hypocritical, and is an argument they would never accept from a conservative.

Secondly, liberals claim to see racism everywhere around them. But as we’ve all seen, liberals clump together. They live in communities of other liberals (look at big cities for proof of this), they select liberal friends (maybe with a token conservative now and then), and they insulate themselves with liberal media, liberal entertainment, and liberal news sources. So where are they hearing all this racism? Either it’s in all their heads or they hear it from other liberals.

Republicans need to stop being afraid of the racist label. They need to learn to turn it back on the Democrats. They need to start using it themselves. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth about race. Until we begin speaking the truth, the Democrats will keep using their web of lies to keep minorities on the Democratic plantation.

The emperor has no clothes and it’s getting time that someone called him on it.


The party needs to get serious about attracting minorities. And that's not going to happen if our outreach continues to consist of token appointments and sending stiff, terrified white guys into minority communities for a yearly photo-op. It's time to break the lock of identity politics.


Tennessee Jed said...

A nice article, Andrew and I'm with you on the notion of no longer playing identity politics.One of the problems, of course, is we are talking about long term voting pattern cliche's. Republicans have struggled with blacks, in particular, since many do not see themselves as being trapped by a welfare system. Quite the contrary, many feel like they are owed up to and including reparations.

Theoretically, as more blacks become more independent financially, the more likely the conservative message is to resonate.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'm saying that we need to (1) stop feeding the myth that the Democrats create, (2) start speaking the truth, even if it upsets the Democrats and the race-husslers, and (3) start peeling off the people we should be reaching.

Right now we try to reach "blacks" as a group. But a street thug and a business man have nothing in common, so when we lump them together, we just turn off the businessman who we could win over, and who could then help us win others.

There are 40 years of damage that need to be undone and it will take time. But we're never going to get there is we keep doing the one broadbased appeal every election cycle.

Writer X said...

Andrew, I think what you're also saying is keep the message strong and consistent and people, regardless of color, will follow. Republicans can't attract voters when their backbone is like butter and their message is unclear.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Yes. I think that when we get into pandering, all we end up doing is playing into the hands of the left.

I think there are some Republican policies that could be sold a little better (particularly those related to immigration, which is for another day), but the idea that we should weaken our principles and go for pandering legislation because it will attact a particular "minority community" is exactly the worst thing we could do.

All that does is make us look like unprincipled, cynical panderers, and it confirms to the "target group" that they are a group rather than individuals.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I think you have the essence of what needs to be done. I agree on blacks, but even though I think you are on the right track, and I think it is a problem of perception that we would do well to work on, nevertheless I think we need to concentrate our efforts elsewhere. As you said, Hispanics and Asians come in many kinds. But most voting-age blacks don't even know where they come from, except "Africa" (even though 99% were born and raised in the United States, as were the five or six generations before them).

Your "one black voter at a time" is the only thing that will ultimately work, but I'm very pessismistic about how long that will take.

The radicals in the 60s decided that all blacks should speak Swahili, since they were too ignorant to know that was an east African dialect, which if spoken by blacks at all, was spoken by the tribes which were dealing in slaves taken from West Africa. The black population has had four centuries to lose their genuine individual African heritage, and over forty years of the welfare state to replace that identity with the Democratic party. They identify as two things--black, and Democrat. That nut will be a lot harder to crack.

The majority of blacks are a group easily pandered to. The "you owe us for slavery" mentality is omnipresent, even among the intellectual class. And liberal white teachers, professors and race-baiters have played to it so well in the last two decades that I don't see the major problem going away for another forty or fifty years. Better to concentrate our best efforts on every other ethnic group, and hope that our philosophy of equal treatment regardless of race sinks in in a few generations. For now, the blacks of voting age either don't believe it, or have chosen not to believe it, and I don't see any way to change it except to be brutally honest.

And remember, this comes from a dedicated civil rights worker who wanted nothing more than to eliminate color as a factor in voting. We did the right thing, but it has turned out very badly, not just for Republicans, but for black society specifically and American society at large.

Martin Luther King's dream has been turned into a nightmare. But when white Republicans try to cite it, they're immediately shouted down with cries of "racist." When a black Republican tries, he's called an Oreo or an Uncle Tom. That perception is not going away in the next two, four or six election cycles, and if we concentrate too much effort on it, we neglect those ethnic groups which would be happy to be welcomed into the Republican Party.

CrisD said...

There is definitely a racist conservative voice on Pat Buchanon's responses when he posts his articles on Human events. I am not the least bit afraid to talk about it. Anyone know what I am talking about?

LawHawkSF said...

CrisD: I stopped reading Buchanan a long time ago. So I'm not quite sure what specifics you're referring to. As long as Republicans pay any attention to Buchanan, the cries of racism can be justified. He can't get his ideas out of the fifties. He doesn't just oppose affirmative action (which most of us also oppose), but he hates both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And I'm not talking about the skewed implementation over the past forty years. I mean the acts themselves.

He is also anti-Semitic and refers to those who support Israel's attempts to survive and perpetuate democracy alternatively as the "Amen corner," or simply "The Jewish lobby."

LawHawkSF said...

CrisD: I left out my final line: Buchanan is not a conservative, he is a reactionary. He thinks anything that has happened since 1950 is a mistake, yet he wouldn't know Burke from Keynes. He thought William Buckley was a sappy dilettante liberal. If he chooses to call himself anything, it's "paleoconvervative" which misses the mark slightly. It should be jurassic conservative.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, There are racist conservatives, that's true. There are racist everythings. But I have to say that in all my travels, conservatives by and large are the least racist people I've met. In fact, most of them go out of their way to not be racist. Many of the liberals I've met are quite racist, though they think they're immune to the charge.

Also, I think the Republicans did a great job of tossing out the David Dukes and the such. The left never did. Instead, they just pointed a finger at us and pretended that we were really the racists.

I don't know specifically what you're referring to with Buchanan, but I stopped listening to him years ago because I thought he went around the bend into crazytown.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree that the wrong attitudes are much more entrenched in the black community than the others -- and I think that comes from them bearing the full force of liberalism and liberal thinking for 50 years.

That said, I think the formula is the same for all groups. You approach the people who "should be Republicans," and you try to bring them in for the reasons that they should be Republicans. And then keep expanding the list.

It will probably work at different speeds for different groups, but there is no silver bullet here. The left has been working on this for 50 years now, we have yet to even try to fight back. This would be our first counter-attack.

And frankly, I don't see any other method that will work. Clearly, the occasional appeal won't work.

Also, re the black community, I'm only talking here about community outreach to grow the party, not social policy that may be aimed at undoing the effects of liberalism. That's for another day.

98ZJUSMC said...

If I have read the comments correctly so far, you guys, at least to me, seem to be hitting all around the solution. Conservatives need more solidly conservative minorities in Congress. I know, I know....electability. Until we can move away from the libby label of "old racist white men", untrue that it is, very little will change quickly.

My .02. Too early in the morining to think and not enough coffee yet.

StanH said...

Ronald Reagan! Be a firm unabashed Conservative American, and anyone that has gumption, drive, love of freedom will follow, no matter race, religion, nationality, or sex. If the right even tacitly accepts the premise of the left, identity politics, or the Balkanization of this country, if you will …the game is lost. Which makes me believe if we can figure this out, why can’t they figure it out in Washington? I know how you hate conspiracies, so lets couch it as Machiavellian hyjinks, both parties love the power, and accept the basic premise of identity politics. Conservatism by it’s nature would shrink government, they really don’t want this in Washington, both sides …the power… they are quite happy to play both ends against the middle, or “divide and conquer.” I think the real challenge is “We the People,” need to find more freedom loving conservative Americans, and the rest will take care of itself.

AndrewPrice said...

98ZJUSMC, I think that finding conservative mintory candidates is part of this, but we need to find them somewhere -- and this plan lets us do that. Basically, this plan says, start looking for conservatives within the minority community rather than treating all minorities alike.

Once you find those people and show them that we don't bite, I would hope that they could become new community leaders and find more and more conservatives, and that should include running some of these people.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I agree about having a strong conservative message, but that doesn't mean you don't target your audience or that you don't find ways of appealing to the target audience. When Reagan spoke to small business groups, he didn't go talk about military pensions. Same thing here.

Also, keep in mind that we need to get undo years of leftist propaganda here, propaganda that we have implicitly played into for decades now. So we need to do more than just say "this is who we are" if we're going to attract these people. When other people are going around slandering you, you need to defend yourself -- you can't just say, "this is me," take it or leave it.

In terms of the conspiracy, there is no conspiracy here -- the Republican leadership is not trying to sabotage minority outreach. They just don't get it. The Republican failure is the result of the leadership being almost to a man old white dudes who have similar backgrounds and beliefs and who have never had to deal with other cultures or peoples.

They are equally awkward with blacks, Asians, Hispanics, women, the young, Muslims, etc. It's lack of experience and lack of perspective.

MegaTroll said...

I totally agree with this. I hope someone from the GOP is listening.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mega. I hope so. They need to start changing the way they do business if they want to grow as a party.

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