Does the GOP Have Any Real Shot At Attracting Black Voters?

Long before the Obama Kool-Aid was mixed and dispensed in massive quantities, African Americans were already heavily under the influence of the Democratic Party, and there may be little Republicans can do about it now.

A young novelist who contributes to Ebony/Jet magazine wrote an article in June about how the GOP can right itself, become more diverse, and be the strong opposition that's needed to keep the Democrat-dominated government in check. G'Ra Asim presented in stark terms what Republicans are doing wrong in the quest to woo young and minority voters:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and RNC Chairman Michael Steele are not going to connect with Millennials on the strength of melanin alone. ... [U]ndue emphasis on conservatives of color without a substantive reevaluation of the Republican platform is more likely to strike us as patronizing than pleasing.

Exchange race for technology and we still aren't going for the bait and switch; Newt Gingrich's ideas don't become fresh and vibrant just because they're on Twitter rather than Meet The Press.

In short, recruiting candidates of color isn't going to alter the GOP's image as white, male, and southern. And having the party embrace the technology and information revolution by using electronic media and social networks isn't going to take the "Old" out of the Grand Old Party.

What the party must do instead, says Asim, is show how Americans of all ethnic backgrounds and cultures can benefit from free market economics and a commitment to personal responsibility, both of which are seen as strong tenets of Republican Party values. Perhaps an even greater challenge for the GOP is Asim's call for the right to have a "fresher, more cutting-edge" take on positions already espoused by Democrats, essentially presenting the opposition as "on the right track" but stuck in yesteryear.

The latter suggestion sounds a lot like the call of moderate Republicans to be more like Democrats, which many conservatives say simply doesn't win elections for the GOP. But if all GOP efforts were concentrated entirely on Asim's first idea, the influence of the Democratic Party on black voters would still be overpowering. Democrats have simply done too exceptional a job convincing African Americans that they're victims who need to rely on the saving graces of government. As a consequence, blacks tend to vote for the party that attempts to rescue them from the plight in which institutionalized racism is said to have left them.

Until the 1930s, the rescuing party was the Republican Party, because it was the party of Lincoln and emancipation from slavery. But with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and Eleanor Roosevelt personally championing the cause of equality for African Americans, blacks switched to the Democratic Party. In Running on Race, author Jeremy Mayer explains that by 1960, the black vote was back up for grabs, with both John Kennedy and Richard Nixon promising to improve the lives of African Americans. But the black vote went to Kennedy in 1960, and passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965 solidified the Democrats' lock on that demographic. By the time Lyndon Johnson won passage of all the Great Society legislation, the Democrats were firmly the new rescuers of African Americans.