Have you ever seen anyone set fire to $10 million, neither have I but if you follow the Republican National Committee over the next couple of months you will see it’s chairman, a gentleman named Reince Priebus do the equivalent of that.
In a press conference this past Monday, Priebus announced a proposal to commit that ten million dollar amount to improving Republican outreach towards minority communities. This was one of several “not so new” ideas thought up by his committee which was included in the “Growth and Opportunity Project”, a 100 page report that summarized the GOP’s massive failure in the Presidential and Congressional elections of 2012.
Priebus went into detail in terms of laying out what he thought were the Republican missteps. “When Republicans lost in November, it was a wake-up call. And in response I initiated the most public and most comprehensive post-election review in the history of any national party, as it makes clear, there’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement.”
This was on the heels of Preibus venturing to Brooklyn’s Christian Cultural Center a week earlier to try to began the process of extending a hand to Black America, giving a speech to twenty or so Black Conservatives. Nothing says outreach like preaching your far right message to the choir.
The problem for Republicans is that Priebus’ statement and his little road trip are definite proof of the hermetically sealed bubble that most people on the right side of the political aisle live in. They are under the illusion that their policies are not the problem it’s their communication skills.
The African-American community, as I have said on numerous occasions is not a monolithic group of people. We all have different ideas on certain issues, different interests, different tastes, except for when it comes to politics and our individual votes.
Ever since 1964, when Republicans decided to nominate the ultimate anti-Civil Rights candidate Barry Goldwater, the black vote has swung heavily, and I do mean heavily towards Democrats. Clearly the GOP didn’t learn it’s lesson because four years later their nominee Richard Nixon and two of his henchmen Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips gave us the “Southern Strategy”, a blatantly racist but successful attempt to pit white working class voters against people of color, despite the fact that both groups found themselves in pretty much the same income earning bracket.
There have been calls by people inside the GOP to reach out to African-Americans in the past, people like the late former Congressman Jack Kemp and Priebus’ predecessor at the RNC, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele come to mind. Just as soon as one of those voices makes themselves heard however they are shouted down by the clowns in conservative media or the far right elected officials in the party.
Republican policies are at the heart of their inability to attract black voters. Last June a Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 63% of African-Americans supported the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act, yet Mitt Romney made it a point in his speech to the NAACP last year to slam the President Obama’s signature piece of legislation. Paul Ryan, Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate and Chairman of the House Budget Committee called for the repeal of the ACA in the recent version of his draconian budget.
It has been the shedding of public sector jobs that have hurt African-Americans the most when it comes to the economic downturn and slow recovery, black people who use to be cops, firefighters, bus drivers and construction workers now find themselves still looking for work. Those same individuals also see the Republican party pushing devastating austerity measures and calling for absolutely no infrastructure spending that would employ them once again.
There is a running theme in GOP that if you are black and think that there is a role for Government in everyday life and that it is not a dirty word, then you are dependent, you want freebies, or as Bill O’Reilly puts it “free stuff.” What’s even more insulting is that the “dependent” charge is rarely if ever hurled at white liberals who also believe in a role for Government, or Tea Party Conservatives who walk around with protest signs saying “Keep your Government hands off my Medicaid.”
If Reince Priebus and the GOP are not willing to change the exclusive and outdated policies that they are championing, aren’t willing to offer black people more than just a smile and a softer tone of voice than future elections are going to look a lot like the one in 2012.
So come on Reince, how about distributing that $10 million to food banks, homeless shelters, and centers that help battered women and children. You would get a much better return on your investment.
Then again you are a Republican.