'Fo Shizzle!' GOP Goes Hip-Hop
The Scene: A fictitious meeting in the new era of the GOP's ever-expanding "big tent."
I had the pleasure of sitting down to dinner with two members of my county Republican Party steering committee this week to discuss the GOP's options as we move into the 2010 election cycle. I was joined by Dr. Eric von Dersgarten (of the Rhine Valley Dersgartens, of course) and Cecilia Montgomery. Eric has been a tireless champion of small government conservatism ever since his emigration from Germany and something of a kingmaker in state politics. Cecilia is an old friend whom I first met through my wife. She's not only president of the local chapter of the D.A.R. but also earned Ranger status for her bundling efforts on behalf of President Bush in 2004.
Ms. Montgomery chose the venue for our meeting and I have to say it was one of the most unusual ever, nicely setting the tone for what was to come. It was located in the downtown area of the city, seldom frequented by yours truly, and called "Check Yo Nine." I assumed it was some sort of Asian eatery, but nothing of the kind was in evidence as I entered. The establishment was, however, one of the most ethnically and racially diverse establishments I'd visited in many years and the local patrons took a great deal of interest in our arrival.
At Eric's urging we were all seated promptly, while Cecilia had taken the liberty of ordering drinks for us in advance. It was a delightfully bold, yet somewhat tart concoction called Camo 5X and came in a shockingly large serving size which looked to be approximately forty ounces. Dr. Dersgarten was well ahead of me in the curiosity department and pressed Cecilia for an explanation as to what we were doing there.
In response, she handed us both printouts of recent statements by RNC Chair Michael Steele regarding a new direction for the party. Cecilia excitedly informed us that this new outreach program to expand the Republican base and appeal to the youth vote would focus on applying the party's traditional message to "urban -- suburban hip-hop settings." Eric seemed a bit confused, so I rushed in to rescue him from the conversational lull.
"So, this ... " I said, vaguely waving a hand toward the confines of the club, "is our new target demographic, then?"
"Exactly!" she replied. "There is a whole new generation of untapped voters here, and our job is going to be finding areas of common appeal where young and, dare I say, more hip constituents can embrace the core values of conservatism and work this sense of next generation energy into their own Republican activist agenda."
I noted that Ms. Montgomery employed the word "hip" in much the same way she might say cancer. I was also quickly finding that my beverage -- which I later discovered to be something classified as "malt liquor" -- was rapidly going straight to my head, but I pressed on gamely.
"So where, precisely, do you see the overlap? I'm not trying to toss cold water on a promising plan here, but what specifically is the message that we're taking forward in common?"
Cecilia was spared responding as Fate seemingly stepped in to provide a real time answer to my query. A group of what appeared to be street minstrels had been setting up their musical equipment on a sort of ad hoc stage in the corner of the club and chose this moment to begin warming up for their performance. One young man was making odd, rhythmic noises with nothing more than his mouth and a microphone, while a second gentleman strove, seemingly in vain, to find the proper track on an ancient vinyl record set up on a turntable, doubtless resulting in terrible scratches on the surface. The last member of the trio -- an obese young man with poorly fitted clothing -- broke into a recitation of some type of free-form poetry.
I spit verses, perfect for burnin' your back curvature
Certain it converted good person into a murderer
Live in Hell's Kitchen and crappin' on the furniture
Sermons that I spit are forbidden, where's the interpreter?
Tell society, I attacked ‘em, yo
Like a sabretooth, breakin loose, like hot in many
My buck-fifty's worth every penny
As they played, we had finished our drinks and Eric flagged down the waitress to fetch us another round. For the moment, all thoughts of food were forgotten and we sipped our 5X while considering the singer's lyrical message.
Dr. Dersgarten was the first to break the silence. "Precisely, Dog. That's what I'm talking ‘bout, yo."
Ms. Montgomery and I stared at him a moment before responding like conjoined twins. "What?"
"Oh, sorry," he stuttered. "Just something I overheard near the lavatory.
"No, no," I interrupted. "I think I see where you're going with this. The message might need a bit of fine tuning and focus group testing, but there's definitely something to work with here. He's talking about sermons -- always a big seller with our base. And the need for an interpreter? It's a classic metaphor for the communications gap between traditional party leadership and the youth vote! We might be able to work with this."
"Damn straight," Cecilia responded. "With the right staff writers we could even develop some of this poetry into targeted advertising in the urban precincts. And with the help of some of these young men, well ... damn!"
Much of the rest of the evening was, I'm sorry to report, a bit of a blur, but we began purchasing drinks for a couple of the performers and floating some suggestions. Video footage which was later uploaded to the internet by one of the locals showed Ms. Montgomery up on stage with the performers. She seemed to have found a theme which resonated.
Ain't gonna keep eating deficit crap from those Dems,
Lockin' da pubbies up in minority pens
We jumpin' straight up on those electoral passes, now
Watch out or we bustin' a cap in some donkey asses
I'll be filing an updated report to the state committee later this month, but clearly there is an opportunity here as envisioned by the new national chairman. In terms of a donor base, many of these voters will likely fall into the smaller, single contribution category, but a surprising number of them have their own video and audio equipment which could be leveraged for current internet technology and grassroots efforts.
In the words of our new regional communications director, Ginormous T-Real, "We be taking these commie mother [expletive deleted] to da streets home style, Dog."
All I can add to that is, Fo Shizzle ma nizzle, my conservative friends. Fo Shizzle indeed.