Republicans Blow Another Opportunity to Reach Black America
Republicans have long attributed their electoral position in Black America to an unfortunate confluence of misunderstandings, liberal media bias, and Black civil rights leaders that “control” the thought processes of Black voters and instruct them to be supplicants to the Democratic Party. If only Republicans could speak directly to Black voters without the media filter, they contend, Black voters would see that the GOP has a platform that speaks to Black empowerment. Indeed, the argument goes, once Black voters hear the Republicans speak to them unfiltered, then it is only a matter of time before the GOP begins to win substantial Black support. There’s only one problem with that argument as it relates to the 2008 Republican presidential nomination fight: Republican candidates are willfully missing an unfiltered, unedited opportunity to speak directly to African Americans. Their snubbing of minority groups is more evidence that it is not serious about winning Black and Brown votes.
The Public Broadcasting Service announced on February 8, 2007 that it would broadcast two live presidential candidate forums to be moderated by Tavis Smiley, the host of a talk show on the network. According to the February announcement, the forums were conceived in the wake of the release of Smiley’s book the Covenant with Black America, which speaks to ten of the most significant issues facing Black America. Upon the book’s publication, the national committees of both major parties pledged that their respective presidential candidates would address the issues raised in the book.
While every Democratic presidential candidate found their way to D.C. for the June forum, it appears that the Republican candidates can’t get their GPS to direct them to Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland for the GOP candidate’s forum scheduled for September 27. It appears that none of the “top tier” candidates will participate. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and former Senator Fred Thompson have already declined invitations while Senator John McCain is still unconfirmed.
There is an awful lot of time between early February and late September, so it’s implausible that the Republican candidates were booked when the forum was announced. The GOP absences from a forum that targets voters they claim to covet can only be seen as proof that their talk and deeds on winning Black votes are moving in opposite directions.
Sadly, this is standard operating procedure for the Republicans and outreach to minority constituencies. Most major GOP candidates have declined invitations to address the NAACP and the Urban League, as well as appear at a forum televised by Univision. Univision cancelled it’s forum because of the abysmal Republican response (only Senator John McCain accepted the invitation) This strategy is insane when you consider that many of the issues that are raised at these events would also be raised in “majority” settings as well. It’s also arrogant, as it suggests that some voters are unworthy of addressing.
Yes, the Republicans are in trouble with Black Americans and struggling with Hispanic Americans. However, thumbing your nose so publicly at these constituencies is politically stupid and represents yet another in the long list of examples that show the GOP is not serious about winning minority voters. Demographic trends suggest that position will hurt the party in the long run.
Michael K. Fauntroy is an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University and author of the recently published book Republicans and the Black Vote. He blogs at www.MichaelFauntroy.com.
I don’t think you get it…Republicans don’t WANT to attract black voters - they want to attract white voters. That has been true since 1964 when Barry Goldwater captured the Republican nomination by embracing the policies of George Wallace. You are right that the change in generations and shifting demographics now weaken that strategy, but they are extending it to encompass the new “other” people of color - Arabs (Islamic terrorists) and immigrants (just the Latino ones, though).
Thank you for your comments Michael. Jesse should be ashamed of himself. I think most African Americans like him and Sharpton are just plan jealous of a dynamic young man like Sen. Obama getting all of the respect and adulation that he is getting from America in general.
You are right Sen. Obama has to be for all of America.
Why did Jesse not call out the presumed nominee, Hilliary Clinton, on the carpet for not speaking up or supporting the Jena 6? After all, most of the African American want to give her their vote because they might get Bill Back.
I say they both have had their time in the Whitehouse it is time for new blood. She is not Bill and that will be 28 years by the time it is over of having the Presidency in the hands of just 2 families. I think this country can do better than that. It is time for a real change and leave the past in the past. Obama ‘08!
I am so embarrassed and disgusted by this I don’t know what to do. This blantant snubbing of the black and brown people of America is just too much. How on earth can you tell me that just because I am black and have an interest in black issues that I automatically will vote Dem so there is no need to talk to me? This was such an incredibly missed opportunity to reach the people who you think are not interested in you to tell the what you are about and give them the benefit of the doubt. But this? At least have the courage to say the real reason why. Scheduling conflict, my beautiful black behind.
To claim that Repubicans claimed that they could attract the black vote is a crude strawman argument. Even Karl Rove did not believe that Republicans would never be able to attract black. However, Repubicans did falsely believe that they could attract Hispanic voters. However, the reaction to the immigration amnesty proposals.
The real question that blacks should be asking is what place they will have in the Democratic Party after the Repubican party collapses. Demographic trends make the Republican party long term prospect viritually zero. Thus, the current Repubican party voters will eventually have to cross over and start voting in the Democratic Primary (look at the two election loses for former Congresswoman McKinney as an example).
When elite whites in the Democratic Party no longer need black votes to maintain power, what will become of the black vote.
Prof. Fauntroy: I believe your analysis of Republican outreach efforts to black and brown voters is off base historically when you examine how the Democrat Party has never fulfill any of the promises it’s made to Black voters over the past 40 years.
One benefit’ African-Americans have derived from our affilation with the Democrat Party is a ‘Civil Rights Commission’ and ‘Voting Rights Commission’ that serve only the enforce the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution.
Other ‘benefits’ we have from being wedded to this political party are political appointments, affirmitive action placement in elite universities and government employment, AFDC payments, Section 8 housing, and a myriad of government sponsored ‘entitlements’ that might as well be called ‘reparations for slavery and Jim Crow.’
Prof. Fauntroy, Republican outreach to African-Americans is rooted in conservative Republican principles of a limited government and responsible fiscal policy, rather than the liberal Democrat approach of massive government programs to buy off political constiuencies paid for by confiscatory tax policy.
Prof. Fauntroy, like the pro-life vote, Republicans are winning black and brown voters one community at a time, one voter at a time. The more aware all Americans become of the real history of the Democrat Party towards minority voters, the more people become educated as to how futile it is to place your trust in government alone, the more the base of the Democrat Party will begin to erode.
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