PJ Media

It's Time: GOP Needs to Radically Change Tactics with Minorities

Republicans do poorly with minority voters.

As a general rule, the Republican Party gets about one-tenth of the black vote, one-third of the Hispanic vote, and one-fourth of the Jewish vote. If this seems like a huge problem today, demographic patterns point to the radical liberalism destroying the country today becoming the norm forevermore.

Why do minorities vote Democratic in such numbers? Part of the cause is issue-oriented. Liberals, whatever their race may be, aren’t going to vote for Republicans. People who are lower on the socioeconomic scale naturally tend to favor the party enlarging the taxpayer-funded dole. Given that blacks and Hispanics, taken as a group, have fallen behind other Americans economically, the Democrats have particularly fertile ground for their message there.

However, that doesn’t come close to telling the whole story. Ever since Reagan, people have been looking at the Christianity and social conservatism of Latinos and saying: Hispanics are Republican; they just don’t know it yet.”

The biggest issue for Jews tends to be the survival of Israel, and Republicans are unquestionably much better on that issue than Democrats.

Then there are black Americans. Even setting aside the historical alliance between Republicans and black Americans, most black Americans go to church, oppose gay marriage, are pro-life, are anti-illegal immigration, and are pro-school choice. These are not inconsequential issues.

So why is the GOP doing so poorly?

Republicans believe it should be all about the issues, while Democrats push culture. They tell minority groups that Republicans hate them, and it works — despite the fact that it’s entirely false. They also tell minorities that their ethnic identity is tied up in voting for the Democratic Party.

A good example of this is Jesse Jackson saying: “You can’t vote against health care and call yourself a black man.” Then there’s the NAACP, La Raza, CAIR, MALDEF, the Congressional Black Caucus … on and on and on. All these prominent groups implicitly or explicitly try to tie the cultural identity of minorities to the Democratic Party, even as they demonize Republicans as “the other.” Republicans are not merely treated as political opponents — they’re framed as racial enemies.

As a general rule, Republicans have a strong negative reaction to these organizations not only because they unfairly demonize, but because they divide by race when we should strive to be colorblind. It’s fine to feel that way — I do myself — but is the approach working?

No. Are we seeing any evidence that the tide is turning? Is La Raza about to collapse? Are most black Americans calling for a colorblind world where it matters, like with affirmative action programs?

So if the approach isn’t working and isn’t going to work, isn’t it time to change it?

Saul Alinsky would certainly say so: “One communicates within the experience of his audience — and gives full respect to the other’s values.” Isn’t it time Republicans took his advice? The Republican message has failed to reach minorities for decades, while the Democrats have found a message that works extremely well. Shouldn’t we be copying their approach instead of doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result?

Many Republicans blanch at this suggestion, even though they’ve already bought into it. How many Republicans accept Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as “leaders” of the black community? How many Republicans treat CAIR as a legitimate representative of Muslims? How many Republicans are honest enough to admit that they get a little extra-excited about Marco Rubio because he’s Hispanic, Sarah Palin because she’s a woman, and Michael Steele because he’s black?

That doesn’t mean it’s all about race or sex, but Republicans have been playing the same game, if halfheartedly.

Republicans have to make a choice. Do what it takes to pull minorities into the party, or cede them forever to the Democrats.

Do we want people like Jesse Jackson to be treated as a “black leader,” or do we want him to be the leader of “liberal black Americans”? Do we want Al Sharpton being treated as the arbiter of what’s offensive to black America, or do we want a conservative black man having a public voice on those issues, too? Do we want groups like La Raza to be treated as representatives of the Hispanic community, or do we want to have a powerful group of Hispanic conservatives calling out Democrats for racism?

Making cultural changes takes time. It’s also not cheap. For example, in the black and Hispanic communities, we’d need to fund something akin to a conservative NAACP that could hand out scholarships, help improve neighborhoods — and stand up for Christian values, better schools, and personal liberty.

At first, because a lot of people benefit from the current system, these people would be reviled and slurred. Black conservatives would be called Oreos. Hispanic conservatives would be called Coconuts. But over time, as they spread their message and make a positive difference, people would start to come around. Disprove the left’s lies and make it culturally respectable to be a Republican, and suddenly tens of millions of black and Hispanic Americans would see the Republican Party with fresh eyes. That would be revolutionary.

Imagine the moment the Democratic Party can’t pull 70 million minority votes with: “Republicans hate you! Your race determines your thoughts!” It would forevermore change this country for the better.