Republicans in Wisconsin Seek to Reclaim Title as Civil Rights Party
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.)