How can the GOP woo minority voters when it insults them?
Originally published in The Guardian December 3, 2013
They still don’t get it. Over a year after Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election because he failed to win minority votes, the Republican National Committee is still acting dumber than ever. How can the Republican National Committee woo black voters when they insult them? In celebration of the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in segregated Montgomery, Alabama, the RNC tweeted:
Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.
First off, racism isn’t dead. Not even close. Maybe the RNC is living under a rock and should read about recent incidents where Macy’s and Barneys appeared to accuse customers of being thieves, just because they were shopping while black.
Second, perhaps the RNC needs to understand the difference between racism and segregation, the latter being what Rosa Parks helped end. Moreover, she certainly didn’t do it alone. She, along with hundreds of other “freedom riders” and Civil Rights activists like Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers, helped end segregation – not racism – in this country.
This tweet, in all its ignorance, reveals that the RNC thinks so little of blacks that it won’t even bother to learn an accurate history of the Civil Rights movement. I bet you would never see the RNC make such a mistake about President Lincoln and Civil War history.
Moments later, the RNC clumsily issued a correction tweet, but the point is they didn’t care enough to get it right the first time.
Previous tweet should have read, “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.”
In March 2013, after months of navel gazing and party consternation over its lack of appeal to minorities – who will outnumber whites by 2050 – the RNC issued it’s Growth & Opportunity Project report (pdf), promising to increase minority voter engagement and narrow its voter deficit. The report found, to no black Republican’s surprise, that “minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them”. I wonder why? Telling black voters racism is dead may have something to do with it.
The Growth & Opportunity Project declared:
Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us.
Yet nine months later and counting, one would never know that the RNC is engaging in any kind of “new outreach”. In fact, save for the few token “hires of color” at the RNC, it looks like it’s the same old narrow minded, out of touch, stuffy old white man’s party it’s been for the past 30-plus years.
RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, has made some appearances in predominately black communities like Harlem and Detroit, but that’s not going to win over black votes. Blacks want to see themselves reflected in the face of the party, but the only the face that keeps popping up is consistently white.
The Michigan GOP is opening up an African American Engagement Office in Detroit, and invited Senator Rand Paul to headline this week’s event. That’s an admirable step. I’m a huge fan of Paul because he is taking the conservative message to minority communities and doing in earnest what the RNC won’t. But in a city like Detroit where 97% of blacks voted for President Barack Obama, the party would have been smart to invite some prominent black Republicans like Allen West, Senator Tim Scott or Congressional candidate Mia Love to join Senator Paul. That would make sense.
Better yet, perhaps if the RNC and its state chapters would include blacks and other minorities in the conversation from the start, it wouldn’t need all this phony and superficial outreach in the first place.