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November 22, 2008

Embracing the Black Vote

The GOP needs to listen to this lady:

According to one senior aide, McCain had been polling close to 20 percent of the black vote before the primaries ended. But then his "Forgotten America" tour, which started soon after, never seemed to go anywhere. I knew of only one high-level black adviser or spokesperson on his full-time paid campaign staff. The GOP convention was embarrassingly devoid of people of color -- among more than 2,000 delegates, only 36 were black.

The problem, former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele told the Washington Times last week, is that party officials "don't give a damn." To them, he said, "outreach means let's throw a cocktail party, find some black folks and Hispanics and women, wrap our arms around them -- 'See, look at us.' And then we go back to the same old, same old."

"The party has simply not understood the importance of having highly visible black Republican operatives, elected officials and political spokespersons working for it on an ongoing basis," adds an African American who worked for the Republican National Committee during the administration of the first President Bush. "It's not our message as much as it is our messengers that are killing us."

It didn't have to be this way. Only a few years ago, then-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman was aggressively reaching out to the black community. At the NAACP convention in 2005, he apologized for the party's past embrace of racial polarization to gain political advantage. "We were wrong," he said. But Mehlman's efforts, like those of George H.W. Bush and President Gerald R. Ford in the 1970s and, ironically, Lee Atwater in 1989, have never really been followed up on in a way that has successfully made inroads and attracted black voters to the GOP fold.

I'm a Republican because I believe in a republican form of government, in individual liberty, the rule of law and civic virtue. Though I was raised in a staunchly Democratic household in a heavily ethnic suburb in southern New Jersey, I realized in college that my personal values were closer to those of the GOP than the Democrats. I joined the Republican Party in 1988, attracted by George H.W. Bush's message of a "kinder, gentler" America and Jack Kemp's mantra of economic development and urban enterprise zones, which seemed a natural fit for the black community.

That drew in other African Americans as well. "What the GOP of the '80s and '90s stood for was growth, opportunity and prosperity," one black Republican businessman from Virginia told me. "This is what attracted me to the party." But more recently that message, he said, "has gotten swallowed up by a social conservative agenda that seems obsessed with religion, guns and abortion."

I can vouch that being a moderate black Republican isn't easy. My black GOP colleagues and I endure endless ridicule and questioning from other African Americans, including close friends and family members who wonder how we can belong to a political party that is so overwhelmingly white, male, Southern, conservative and seemingly closed to ethnic minorities.

...After losing our votes this time around, the question is whether the GOP will learn from its failings or continue to compound them. Rumor and e-mail has it that some black conservatives are angry with black Republicans such as Gen. Colin Powell who publicly backed Obama and have issued calls to "throw out" those who did so. But instead of doling out retribution, the party would be better off reflecting on its failings vis-a-vis African Americans, and on the transformation of Abraham Lincoln's Grand Old Party from one that freed the slaves, stood with the suffragists in the early 20th century and helped pass both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts when Southern Democrats would not yield to a party that now appeals to the old Confederacy and a few mountain states out West.

How can the GOP bring black voters back into the fold? Asked that question on National Public Radio in October, Steele, now a candidate for the RNC chairmanship, offered a simple formula:

"Talk to them. Actually engage the black community where they are. Stop thinking you're going to get by by having a handshake and a photo-op, and actually go and listen to black folks in the issues and the concerns they have and . . . make them important to the [party's] overall strategy."

Reeves, who's now national director of state and local development for the RNC, has a similar view. The party, he said, has to "identify, elevate and support blacks who currently work within the party at the local level long before Election Day. We must embrace the talent that the party has now, those who have earned their stripes."

This is exactly what I said the other day. And I'm not black.

It's so obvious. If I can see it, why can't they?

Posted by Cassandra at November 22, 2008 04:22 PM

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Comments

Great, Cass. Steele plagerized you, and now he is no better than Biden. Way to throw another black Republican under the bus!

Posted by: Hummer at November 22, 2008 11:27 PM

Not fer nothin', but how in the ever-lovin' blue-eyed world did you manage to leap to *that* conclusion, Hummer?

Posted by: BillT at November 23, 2008 01:33 AM

Here is a woman who should be asked to be another face of the Republican Party. Star Parker. I first became aquainted with her during the 2000 recount, when I still watched Chris Matthews. I could not believe the amount of sense that comes out of her mouth!

The thing I don't understand is why black Republicans like the author of the linked article feel put off by the anti-abortion focus in the Republican Party. Blacks make up something like 13% of the population in the US, but account for over 35% of the abortions in the country. Does no one ever tell them this? I told a black friend of mine this, and her jaw dropped. She didn't know that the original goal of the abortion movement was to rid the country of black people.

I didn't know that MLK was a Republican until about 2 months ago. I didn't know that Barry Goldwater marched with MLK, as did Mitt Romney's father, until very recently. Lately I have been reading books written by black authors who do not subscribe to the worldview of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. One, Bamboozled, written by Angela McGlowan, gives a very clear history of the racism in the Democratic party, and how it has traditionally been Republicans who have been the conduit for real improvements in the lives of black Americans, until the race hustlers such as Jackson and Sharpton co-opted that agenda and turned it into what it is today.

Bold people such as these must be encouraged to be more visible in the Republican Party, not just during election season, but all the time. I like the idea of Michael Steele leading the charge. He is actually the first candidate I ever donated to.

Posted by: MathMom at November 23, 2008 01:44 AM

Owe-kay, having just read some of Hummer's other comments, I see I need to belabor the obvious:

1. Cass wrote a post elucidating on the Republican Party's failure to involve black Republicans in The Process.

2. Steele's remarks confirmed what Cass wrote.

3. Cass concludes that her thoughts were validated by Steele's.

4. That's *it*. No contumely, no squawks that Steele plagiarized, no tossing Steele under the bus. The only place any of those occurred was in your imagination.

Ever considered a career in the rapidly-expanding field of writing fantasy for Tiger Beat?

Posted by: BillT at November 23, 2008 01:51 AM

> I first became aquainted with her during the 2000 recount, when I still watched Chris Matthews. I could not believe the amount of sense that comes out of her mouth!

Sorry, NO.

Star Parker invalidated herself from anything to do with "sense" by coming out in support of Obama.

So, "pull the other one"....

As far as the "black vote" went here, you're kidding, right?

I think that the GOP, once Obama became the obviously likely nominee, gave up completely on the black vote -- and went for the female vote, instead, figuring that there were a lot more fence sitters who were female than those who would NOT vote for a black solely because he was black -- which I'd suggest is a limited proportion of the black population.

And, on top of that, the female part of the population is much, much larger than the black proportion -- so if you're going to focus your appeal, females are a more effective use of limited resources.

.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at November 23, 2008 04:06 AM

It's OK - Hummer is just flicking crap at me (much as a certain Dark Lord has been known to do from time to time, to get a rise out of me) :p

Old friends do that... heh. He didn't mean it - he was just making fun of my 'I told you so' chest thumping :)

Which, on balance, is better - and safer - than making fun of my chest.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 23, 2008 08:47 AM

Oh, and good points, MathMom. There was a great article by David Horowitz (who I realize can be a bit of a zealot, but he has a point at times) about talking to black college students about how they've been brainwashed about their own history. He's had students come up to him after one of his talks and say "Wow. In all my years of school, why haven't I heard any of this? I'm shocked."

And they should be.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 23, 2008 08:50 AM

It's OK

*sigh*

A perfectly good Galahad gesture -- tubed.

I need an updated Who's Who at Casa Cassie spreadsheet...

Posted by: Oreck the Li'l Dirt Devil at November 23, 2008 09:22 AM

chivalry isn't dead..:)

Posted by: Carrie at November 23, 2008 09:41 AM

...it's just a tad behind the power curve.

Posted by: BillT at November 23, 2008 10:35 AM

I think working harder to promote African-Americans within the Republican Party is an excellent idea. Certainly Republicans should be inclusive, welcoming anyone of any color or ethnic group or sex who wants to be a Republican and giving everyone in the Party a chance to pay as big a role as they want and are capable of.

But that will not necessarily translate into significant levels of support for the Republican Party by African-Americans. What happens if it turns out that the majority of African-Americans want policies from the Federal government that run contrary to Republican principles (or what Republican principles are supposed to be)?

I ask this because near the beginning of her article Sophia Nelson says:

We'll have to decide whether we want to be the party that believes in smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation

But near the end of her article she says:

[The Republican Party] should recruit blacks in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic and in urban districts, offering a Marshall Plan of sorts to rebuild our cities, encourage entrepreneurship and small business start-ups and promote lower taxes for job creation.

A "Marshall Plan ... to rebuild our cities" sounds to me like anything but "small government". In fact, it sounds a lot like what the Great Society was supposed to be. I'm not convinced there's any reason to believe another similar effort will yield any better results.

As for OBH's point about the GOP giving up on the African-American vote in this election, I think it's well taken. Nelson says:

According to one senior aide, McCain had been polling close to 20 percent of the black vote before the primaries ended. But then his "Forgotten America" tour, which started soon after, never seemed to go anywhere.

She seems to be implying that the Republican slippage among African-Americans was due to his failed tour; I think a more plausible explanation is that once Obama was the Democratic nominee virtually all African-Americans were going to vote for him. (I don't fault African-Americans for this. If Hillary Clinton had been the Democratic nominee I might well have voted for her because she was female. It would have been tough but I might have done it.) This doesn't mean African-Americans have been enthusiastic Republicans in other elections recently but the 2008 election is sui generis in this regard.

At any rate as OBH points out, women are a larger group than African-Americans. So are Hispanics though not by a large margin - yet (12.5% Hispanic to 12.3% Black in 2000). Asians are still a small slice (3.5%) but reportedly they’re growing. I think the Republican Party would benefit from outreach to all these groups - women, African-Americans, Hispanic, Asian - politically, image-wise, and in terms of new blood and new ideas. However, if what most members of those groups want from their government contradicts what Republicans are supposed to stand for, that will either put a top end on how much support the Party can realistically expect from any of these “minorities” or require the Republican Party to change their principles to swing these groups to majority (or even significantly) Republican.

(Please note I'm not saying all Blacks or Hispanics or women vote as a bloc. Obviously they don't but they do seem to have policy preferences as groups, preferences they are causing them to vote Democrat. Also, I do not think a policy preference for Democrats on the part of women, Blacks, or Hispanics means they are somehow "bad" people. They just see the world differently than I do which leads back to what I think was Cassandra's original point: conservatives need to reach out to African-Americans (and Hispanics and women) to make them feel welcome and to explain why conservative principles are better for everybody not just for old white guys.)

Posted by: Elise at November 23, 2008 03:14 PM

...conservative principles are better for everybody not just for old white guys.

*sigh*

Thanks just *loads*, Sly. Now you've got Elise doing it, too...

Posted by: BillT at November 23, 2008 04:18 PM

I shall forever be grateful for Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend. If it weren't for that wet-noodled-hack, Michael "The-Puppy-Hating" Steele, would still be wallowing in the backwaters of Upper Marlboro.

GO MIKE GO!

Posted by: Boquisucio at November 23, 2008 05:49 PM

Obloodyhell -

Star Parker wrote this on November 3, the day before Election Day. So...if she endorsed Obama, it must have been after press time on Monday.

Did you read something I have not been able to find?

Posted by: MathMom at November 23, 2008 08:16 PM

"Thanks just *loads*, Sly."

Velcome.
It was the least I could do. And never let it be said that I didn't do the least I could do.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at November 23, 2008 08:52 PM

Just bein' All That You Can Be...

Posted by: BillT at November 24, 2008 12:07 AM

I wouldn't say that.

Posted by: DL Sly at November 24, 2008 12:33 PM

DL Sly: An Army of Fun

Posted by: BillT at November 24, 2008 01:33 PM

*sigh*

Army?
And I thought you liked me....

Posted by: DL Sly at November 24, 2008 06:57 PM

Huh? I *do*.

Despite your unnatural proclivities for Third World blades over a good ol' Made-In-The-USofA Bowie...

Posted by: BillT at November 25, 2008 03:11 AM

Each blade has a purpose:

I use my kukri for whackin' weeds, snakes and whatever else I come upon while workin' around the house.
My bone-handled Bowie with brass *finger guards* stays within reach from the driver's seat -- for self-defense.
The boot knife in my mocassin is a Gerber, and my pocket knife is a brand-spanking new (compliments of MH for my birthday) Ozark Trails.

American enough for ya, TJ?
Sheesh!
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at November 25, 2008 09:37 PM

I make that 75% American.

At least you're not using a panga on the weeds.

Posted by: BillT at November 26, 2008 12:56 AM

Nah, the balance and heft of the kukri *works* just fine for me. You can keep the panga for the sugar cane -- I'd probably end up breaking the tip anyway.
Wouldn't be the first. Nor the last.

0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at November 26, 2008 03:01 AM

"The party has simply not understood the importance of having highly visible black Republican operatives, elected officials and political spokespersons working for it on an ongoing basis," adds an African American who worked for the Republican National Committee during the administration of the first President Bush. "It's not our message as much as it is our messengers that are killing us."

I'm perfectly fine with the old school method of killing messengers.

Just ask BIll.

"Talk to them. Actually engage the black community where they are. Stop thinking you're going to get by by having a handshake and a photo-op, and actually go and listen to black folks in the issues and the concerns they have and . . . make them important to the [party's] overall strategy."

Means bypass the MSM and the NAACP top rigs and go for the bottom folks.

And, on top of that, the female part of the population is much, much larger than the black proportion -- so if you're going to focus your appeal, females are a more effective use of limited resources.

Best strategy is to combine black with female.

than making fun of my chest.

*Thump*

My bone-handled Bowie with brass *finger guards* stays within reach from the driver's seat -- for self-defense.

You aren't trying to use "self-defense" as an euphemism for "killing people", now are ya?

Bill, she needs the special blade of a kukri since it helps translate more weight unto the blade part for hacking things apart. This is very important to Sly, Bill. You need to be more sensitive in such things.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 28, 2008 09:26 AM

Yeah
*sniff*
You need to be more sensitive, Bill.
*sniff sniff*


*sniff*

Hey, does anyone else smell gears burning?

Huh.......
Must be the Princess trying to judge yet another caption contest.
0>;~}


0>:~|


0>;~\


Nahhhh.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at December 1, 2008 12:02 AM

It's nice that you caught that comment of mine, Sly. VC had filtered it for moderation and then it just went away. So the small gears burning must be Cass flittering around knocking things back into shape, which I am eternally grateful for.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 2, 2008 04:21 PM

You need to be more sensitive, Bill.

And you need to be *less* sensitive.

Stop giggling when I'm using the spatula on the vanilla icing -- there *were* glaciers in the Alps in Hannibal's day, ya know...

Posted by: BillT at December 2, 2008 04:36 PM

Hannibal's elephants broke those glaciers up, though. All he had to do was say one word.

SpaarrrTTTAAAAAAAAA


Posted by: Ymarsakar at December 2, 2008 04:54 PM

FWIW, Ymar,that last comment of mine got caught in the spam filter, too. I think it has to do with the relative age of the post.

Posted by: DL Sly at December 2, 2008 05:36 PM

Nah -- more like the relative age of the -- uhhhhh -- humor content of the comment.

Posted by: BillT at December 2, 2008 06:20 PM

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