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Republicans in Wisconsin Seek to Reclaim Title as Civil Rights Party

A golden opportunity awaits the GOP. (For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

by
Avner Zarmi

Bio

June 18, 2014 - 10:53 am

An urban legend put out by the liberal press says that in the late 1960s the Republican Party embarked on a so-called “southern strategy” and exchanged a century-old core constituency of the party, African-Americans, for the support of what was once the Democratic “Solid South.” The only problem, as with most urban legends, is that it is simply not true.

Even if the above narrative is not in fact true,  some 85-90% of the black vote today routinely goes to the Democrats, despite the fact that famous African-American personages from Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King were members of the Republican Party. However, Wisconsin — the state in which the Republican Party was founded — may be about to hand the Democrats a shock which will herald the historic constituency’s return.

Under the leadership of current RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican Party of Wisconsin in 2010 achieved a major upset. In a state that had last voted for a Republican presidential candidate in 1988, in which all state-wide offices (including both Senate seats) save one (attorney general) were held by Democrats, who also controlled both houses of the state legislature and five of the eight congressional districts, the situation was almost totally reversed in November of 2010: Republicans took control of both houses of the legislature, five of the eight congressional seats, and all but three state-wide offices (secretary of state, director of public instruction, and one of the Senate seats).

The narrow victories revealed that Wisconsin was a deeply divided state, nearly 50-50 on both sides. Though the enraged Left tried to mount a recall campaign against the governor, lieutenant governor, and key state Senate seats the following year, they failed in nearly all their goals, and Scott Walker became the first governor in American history to survive a recall vote and be elected twice to the same term (the second time by a higher percentage than the first).

In an effort to dull the knife edge and broaden the party’s appeal, a strategy has been launched to engage the minority communities in Wisconsin and, in the case of African-Americans particularly, to try to regain what was once a core Republican constituency by countering Democratic activism in the community. At first blush, one would think this would not be hard. Most members of the African-American community are concentrated in the major urban centers such as Milwaukee, the state’s largest city. All have long been bastions of Democratic political power. However, under this political monopoly, blacks have fared very poorly: Poverty is rampant, the unemployment and crime rates rate are sky-high, and the public school system is a disgrace. After fifty years of the War on Poverty initiated by the Johnson administration, poverty is clearly winning.

The party therefore appointed a full-time outreach professional in Milwaukee to engage the local African-American community, and since January a group of pastors and small businessmen — not always distinct categories, since many black congregations are themselves too poor and struggling to support their pastors — have been meeting regularly, both amongst themselves and with various representatives of the state and local Republican parties, in an effort to gain information and strategize about how to reach out to their flocks and the community at large. This includes a Republican presence at the “Juneteenth Day” celebration — a locally significant celebration which marks the day on which the news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached all parts of the Confederacy during the Civil War — at which mounds of literature and hundreds of CDs with information on significant events and personages in black history are given away. Also, pastor have been passing out conservative voting guides that provide accurate information on how various office-holders have voted on issues of critical importance to the generally socially conservative members of these congregations, as well as shocking figures like the fact that, according to the most recent data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate amongst people aged 18-64 is now 30.5% higher than it was when President Johnson launched his famous “War on Poverty” 50 years ago. People in the African-American community, disillusioned and discouraged by the flow of events and obvious shortcomings of the Leftist policies being promulgated by the party which has been running the cities in which most of them live, are looking for something else.

It is a golden opportunity for the Republican Party. There may be some surprises indeed in November.

(For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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The Republican Party should be giving one message, and one message only; the same one as the Tea Party, in fact.

That message can be boiled down to: "Yes, YOU can! Our only job is to keep busybodies and professional con artists out of YOUR way!"
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
By "busybodies and professional con artists" you mean politicians, right?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
A friend, who retired this year after 40+ years teaching urban public school, told me that the influx of foreigners (illegals) is hurting poor black children in her public school system.

One of the ways the superintendent is handling the illegals who cannot speak English, all ages, K to high school , is by placing them in Learning Disability programs. This way the low functioning does not hurt on state test scores.

Premature babies are at high risk of dyslexia or other learning difficultues - which can be overcome with the right instruction and small classes. If a public school has a good learning disability program, particularly for K to Grade 3, children catch up and and keep up.

To give these slots to children of illegal adults who invaded the country - and deprive poor black children who were born premature and now have learning difficulties - well you decide - is this fair?


17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
My observation has been that school officials would like all children to be classified disabled because it means more money for the school.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"a strategy has been launched to engage the minority communities" Dugh! I've been saying this for years. Even sent letters to the GOP. Finally someone gets it; you can't increase the number of voters by advertising to the same number of voters. You have to increase the base and the best way to do it is to publish facts to the ignorant. The best way is to compare with the perceived enemy; say George Bush was considered a bad President because of his spending however, O'Bamma has increased spending X times over or unemployed numbers have increased, or the number of soldiers dead has increased, cost of living has increased etc...

I can't believe that out of all the lawyers in the GOP none of them know how to argue.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
More generally- the largest untapped 'demographic' is the 40% of Americans who do not vote. I do think 'publishing facts' may be a tad too cerebral. If every conservative took it upon himself to overcome what is often a quite frivolous reluctance and get one of the 40% to the polls I suspect it is possible that Democrats would never win another election.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do tell. For all that I can tell over the years, Republicans simply do not bother to make a proper conservative pitch to the black community...unless it's rare, occasional outings to grovel and pander and pat them on the head.

Sending out speakers (including well-known black conservatives) to engage them on their own turf, making a point of bypassing the "leadership" to address audiences directly, and designing and distributing materials written for them--respecting them as sentient beings capable of abstract reasoning--and, above all, selling straightforward conservative principles would, combined with patience and persistence, almost certainly work wonders over the long run.

Furthermore, there are particular issues that would really give the dems fits if addressed specifically to them. I know that school choice is a biggie with black parents. Also illegal aliens. And a no-holds-barred reiteration of how the dems take them for granted and exploit them.

My personal theory is that our enemies are right. Too many of the consultants, staffers and GOP foot soldiers and organizers are indeed of the gentry class and have no idea of how talk to people outside of their mileu.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
To whom do Republicans "make a proper conservative pitch"?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have wondered for decades why African-Americans continue to vote for Democrats in such large numbers when the economic results for the black population in general continue to be so awful. Black neighborhoods in cities around the country have streets and storm sewers falling apart, crime rates high and employment rates low. They need to look and realize that Democratic policies are making things worse.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
'Mingo says there is something else, “There is a thing about loyalty. You with me or you ain’t. If you with me I’m getting ready to knock dude up side head lets go. It’s not where you can say I’m not going to. You’re either with me or you’re not.”'
http://pjmedia.com/blog/pc-reporting/2/
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reince Priebus is turning out to be a pretty good GOP leader.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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