Content of Their Character: A Republican Q & A on the Topic of Race

In the conference room of a suburban coffee shop, I recently met with five fellow conservatives - two college students, their professor, a state senator, and a Polynesian businesswoman. We discussed the intersection of race and politics. The students attend Concordia College, a private Lutheran institution. Each works in an urban environment dealing directly with at-risk populations. They sought perspective from established minority voices within the Republican Party. In this instance, I was to be one such voice. The Polynesian businesswoman was to be another. The following are their questions and our answers, paraphrased.

How would you describe this moment in race relations? What is happening in our country, and what do you perceive as the problem?

That's a broad question. The chief problem is that people have retreated into social enclaves and refuse to understand, or even acknowledge, alternative perspectives. Republicans, in particular Caucasian Republicans, have a preferred sense of what the problems in minority communities are and how to fix them. There's little interest in listening to what the people in those communities have to say for themselves, letting them define their own problems, and then crafting solutions based on conservative principles. It's easier to simplify the issue and attribute difficulties to weak families, poor work ethic, or an otherwise subpar culture.

Why do policies intended to help minorities and those in need seem to be so ineffective? (This question was accompanied by an anecdote from the professor about his work with the homeless, noting that policy-makers never talk to the homeless to discover what they actually need.)

That's because policies presented to help the homeless are not actually about helping the homeless. They're about making suburban voters and urban hipsters feel good about themselves for supporting policies intended to help the homeless. The Left elevates intention above outcome. They sell and evaluate their policies based on intention. Outcome is beside the point.

Consider MNSure [our state health insurance exchange] and Obamacare as examples. These programs have performed 180 degrees opposite of what each advertised. Insurance is more expensive. Care is more scarce. People have lost their coverage or lost their preferred doctor. It's been a disaster by every metric. But it's intended to help people. So that makes it okay.

Another issue which bears this out is gun control. A while back, The New York Times published a front-page editorial for the first time in decades. It called for draconian regulation of firearms, including the confiscation of certain weapons. In the piece, the editorial board acknowledged that similar policies in other countries had no effect on gun violence. Yet they advocated for the United States to adopt the policies anyway because "at least they're trying." They literally said that the intention was more important than the outcome. That's where we're at as a culture.