Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Race, Rhetoric, and the Republican Way"

"A baby is an alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other."

-Ronald Reagan

By Andrew Simon

Minorities are consistently polled as being *more* conservative, *more religious*, and more consistently right wing than any other segment of the American landscape. So why aren't we winning? Two words: Rush Limbaugh.

I sit down with a group of hard working, middle class African Americans to watch Mr. Limbaugh on CPAC. The response, to a man, was one of bewilderment, disbelief, and astonishment. What appeared to them as the apparent de facto head of the Republican Party using single mothers as punchlines. The loud, proud declaration that there is no "Spanish vote" or "minority vote" that needs to be approached, engaged, or even considered; that the keys aren't stronger, sound policies, they're angrier, less inclusive sound bytes.

"There is no compromise between good and evil."

The last time I checked, the struggling single mothers I see doorknocking aren't evil, and they aren't "too stupid" to get the message either. She is not, as was suggested in the speech, the sort of liberals "we won't ever win over anyways." She is simply the symbol of millions of potential Republican voters, overwhelmingly socially conservative, but, understandably, slightly more concerned about her child turning up dead than turning out gay.

The fact is, Rush is utterly off the mark in his rallying cry of "to hell with dialogue." If our attempt to reach out to urban communities, instead of coming up with new, constructive policies that empower Americans to empower themselves in real, measurable, and substantive results, is to simply try to find the first candidates we can track down with a skin tone a few shades darker than Arnold after a day at the tanning booth, and get them to parrot Rush and Palin slogans in the inner cities... we really might as well stop pretending and just plain send white candidates to campaign in *actual* blackface.

It's easy to be loud and angry and shake your saber against "the enemy." There's no real responsibility attached to it--and lets not kid ourselves, it's quite an entertaining, team building exercise. The problem is, though, it doesn't help the team get any bigger. And it's not because we're not being loud enough for under-represented communities (or, post Rush, should that be "communities"?) to's because we've fallen in love with our own voices so much that we've stopped listening to what the communities are actually saying.

It doesn't require "abandoning our values," either. It's simply a matter of fact that in numerous Republican states, strong local initiatives to support these groups already exists, providing assistance with re-education, retraining, and outreach. But instead of annunciating these success stories and showcasing Republican solutions to be clear, effective alternatives, they are drowned out and ignored in a sea of loud yelping voices and general disinterest.

As only one example of innumerable potential inroads, I personally spearheaded an initiate that brought children from poor communities together and provided free tutoring, mentoring, and fine & performing arts lessons. It proved that real change was possible, one "community" at a time, without big government or ANY government. It opened segments of communities that wouldn't have normally given us the time of day to realize that when we talk about extending "a hand up instead of a hand out" we don't just really mean extending the finger. All it took was a few volunteers and some elbow grease to open up scores of new potential prospects into our ranks....imagine if we took on efforts like that nation wide, and publicized them effectively? If low income parents could thank the grassroots efforts of a Republican Urban Agenda for improving the lives and the educations of themselves and their children? We'd be living in a different political universe, my friends.

But, as long as all we *really* need to focus on is "staying on message" and as long as the people in the party who strive to move forward with new ideas and new efforts to broaden the base are decried as sellouts or... worse yet..."In-tel-ec-tu-als" (complete with eye rolling), any such hopes are nothing but pipe dreams.

Fixing those pipes will take more than being the party of Joe the Plummer. Steele recognizes this. Rush doesn't. It's easy to be loud when you don't have to be accountable for concrete results. It's harder to take the slings and arrows that come with tough decisions and real work. So for those content to shake their rattle at "the enemy," be my guest. I'll be busy supporting Steele and building the bridges that'll take us somewhere bigger and brighter in 2012.

~Andrew Simmons is a young black conservative from Canada who is a graduate of the University of Calgary, Alta where he was the President of the University’s Campus Conservatives He is both a free lance writer and political commentator on Canadian and American politics. Email:


Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that there is no real place for non-whites in this party. I'm fairly new to politics and have never voted (I'm 26); I just don't have any faith at all in our political system. That said, my views pretty much all fall on the conservative side; but some of the things I've seen from Republicans is down right scary.

I'm thinking about taking the plunge in 2010 and voting, but my candidate I think would be a conservative Independent or maybe a Libertarian. Still researching, but at this point I can't stand under a Republican flag (and definitely not a Liberal one).

Las Vegas, NV

Anonymous said...


Thank you for speaking the truth about Rush Lumbaugh. There are many Republicans who fear saying anything about this man. The truth is that over time Rush and his supporters will be the death of the Republican Party. The demographics show that if the Party does not change its anti immigrant rehtoric it a few years the GOP wil be dead.

Stacey Morgan

Anonymous said...

I really appreciated the perspectives laid out in this article. I think that Rush has some very good points to make, but I see him as old school in his approach. We can be determined, aggressive, smart, but with Rush it often includes, angry. I've supported Steele for a long time and I still approve of his strategy to revive the party.

Anonymous said...

The views of conservatism are bigger than Rush Limbaugh, I am sure that there is a market for an entertainer or voice in the Urban/minority community that can be just as engaging to minorities as Rush is to white male voters... right? By the way, ALL conservatives should be angry right now, shouldn't they?

rmrd said...

.............ALL conservatives should be angry right now, shouldn't they?

ALL Americans should be angry, especially Liberals and Independents. Rush Limbaugh was an admitted water carrier for GW Bush and the Bush administration. Rush should be angry at himself.

Bush put incompetents like Brownie and Gonzales in charge of important government agencies. Madoff had nothing to fear from a laissez-faire Bush SEC under Christopher Cox.

There is very little to trust a GOP that was fiddling while Rome was burning

Anonymous said...

To bad Mike (the token negro)Steele has already rendered himself irrelevant by bending over for Rush. I don't know too many people, especially Black and Hispanic males, willing to follow the lead of such a wimp.


Anonymous said...

Andrew, I think you need to speak louder. The Republican party has left me and one of the reaons is Rush Limbaugh. I think the Democratic party has been poor on Civil Rights before 1960 as just being racist and now by having low expectations for the poor and minorities. But, having racist, drug addicted, many wives Rush and his Theocratic brethren running the party is a joke. Andrew, please stand up in be a real voice for Republicans and the true ideals of free market economics, defense and the right for every individual to make their way. Racism can not be legislated like the Democrats want it needs to be educated.

Ralph said...

Such short memories--or maybe most of you weren't born yet: the root of everything you are talking about is Richard Nixon's "southern strategy." In the 1960s when the Democrats topok the moral high ground and championed civil rights, the Nixon team saw a gold mine in the south: capitalize on the anger and resentment of poor southern whites towards the coming black tide. Nixon won, and the Republican party--the party of Lincoln, the Great Emancipator--has never been the same. There was a time in my 63-year-old memory that Democrats and Republicans were barely distinguishable on social issues. Betty Ford was a proud feminist. She was for the ERA. But Nixon's southern strategy was the death knell for socially progressive Republicans. After Carter, the Reagan team capitalized and expanded on the theme, and you end up with what you have now. Limbaugh simply reinforces blacks' well-founded mistrust of the party.

rmrd said...

03.05.09 -- 12:43PM // link | RECOMMEND RECOMMEND (14)
BMW/Steele Harmonic Convergence!

Oh, this is getting good. A RNC national michaelsteele-blog.jpgcommitteeperson is calling on Michael Steele to step down. But it's better than that.

It's a black supporter of the crypto-segregationist RNC candidate Katon Dawson. But wait, it's better than that too.

Remember BMW Direct? The GOP direct mail firm that raises tons of money for hopeless candidates but ends up getting little or none of it to candidates in question? Well, the committeeperson is one of those candidates, Ada Fisher of North Carolina.

--Josh Marshall

Santiago said...

The southern strategy may have even started earlier with Barry Goldwater, but I'm not sure if this is what he was aiming for. The southern strategy has blown up in the face of the Republican party through mistrust, but the other side of this is that the Democratic party's ideology has hurt minorities and the poor just as much since then. The Democratic party continually has low expectations for minorities and the poor. I remember growing up and seeing "liberal" elitists come in to a neighborhood and just feeling sorry for people and wanted to be the great white saviors. They wanted to look from afar to see what their help could do. The problem is that their "help" was always doing for and teaching how. That's where the Republican party can try to turn the balance. But the issue is, just as the Democratic party will never admit to failed policies the Republican party will not admit to the fact that they are a haven for racists.

Anonymous said...

Josh Marshall you are obvioulsy not a Republican because we knew this aabout the BMW issue a year ago..old news unless your a leftist nut job. And Kate Dawson..who???

rmrd said...

...we knew this AABOUT the BMW issue a year ago..old news unless YOUR a leftist nut job

Ah, that Glenn Beck level Conservative intellect. The BMW statement began with "remember", to remind people of a past event. Everyone else knew that.

The use of "leftist nut job" proves you have no point just anger. Why didn't you use your real name Rush?

"Kate Dawson". Don't worry about Dawson, the rest of the country knows about the Whites only country club candidate for RNC chair. Dawson was running against the guy who sent out the "Magic Negro" CD and Steele.

Dr Fisher was on the Rachel Maddow show yesterday, throwing Michael Steele under the bus.

The current image of the GOP consists of a neutered African-American RNC chair and an African-American RNC member who loves a White guy who belonged to a country club that Dr Fisher could not join.

The GOP got 4% of the African-American voe for President. Republicans are trying to beat that record by going for 1-2%.

Anonymous said...

Great article

Peace said...

I have to agree with Rush L. on this one. Steele needs to anticipate what liberals will ask when he goes on these shows. He is no longer a talking pundit. Michael Steele allowed Hugley to say the GOP CPAC meeting looked like Nazi Germany. When the liberals atatacked Steel back in 2006 and release his credit report, Rush L. was one of the few that stood up for him. Liberals still call Steele "house Negro" just ecause he is not a democrat. There is nothign worng in criticizing Rush but you have to set the rrecrod straight when go on TV and they deliberate twist the words of Rush. Steel needs to focus on genertaing money for the GOP and rebuilding the grassroots. If Obama policies suceed it means more:

Abortion funding
Nationalization of private companies
More taxes
Demise of the middle class
Less regulation of borders
Defense Cuts
Destruction of human embryos for Stem Cell research
Death to capitalism
Bigger government
Socialised medicaine
Devaluation of the US$
Less School chocie for minority students

Every republican going on TV or a talk show must know they will be asked if they agree Obama poilcies should fail. But the question is not whether we want Obama to dail. We want Obama policies to fail if he is implementing a far left liberal agenda rooted in socialism. COnservatives want America to suceed not liberalism. If Presdient Obama really wanted America to get out fo this economic slump he would not be bailing out AIG and other multi million corporations. He would not be spending money trying to get his social agenda in place. Obama is doign the samethign BUsh did during his last year in office.

Anonymous said...

"We have a lot of confidence in Steele as a Republican Conference."

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)

The Washington Post: GOP Lawmakers Rally Around Steele

By Ben Pershing

After several days of distracting and incessant coverage of his tiff with radio host Rush Limbaugh, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has clearly decided to start pushing back. He told The Washington Post that he is "in the business of ticking people off" and reiterated that he considers himself the de facto leader of the GOP. And, as The Fix reported this morning, Steele is looking to put his money where his mouth is, sending $1 million apiece to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Now, some Republican lawmakers are returning the favor, rallying around their party chairman and seeking to put the storyline of Steele's shaky start behind them.

This morning, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) put out a gushing statement in response to the $1 million donation, saying, "Each of us in House Republican leadership appreciate Chairman Steele's early contribution to our effort to fight our way back to the majority. But even more than this generous donation, we appreciate his total commitment to winning the special election in New York's 20th Congressional District. He is deeply committed to rebuilding the Party in blue states, and he's putting action behind his words."

An NRCC aide said that the statement was deliberately crafted to signal that Republican leaders support Steele, and to highlight that he "has done a ton" of work in the race to fill recently-appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D) House seat.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) echoed that pro-Steele sentiment, and dismissed the idea that the party might be regretting its choice of chairman. "I think this dissension has largely been made up by the media," he said. "I think we have a lot of confidence in Steele as a Republican Conference."

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) had a similar take on the Steele-in-trouble storyline: "It's overblown."

Whatever their views of Steele, Republicans are united in their desire to stop talking about Steele, stop talking about Limbaugh and start talking about issues that actually help the party rather than hurt it. In an op-ed in the Post today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wrote that the focus on Limbaugh, said to be driven by Democrats, was a "diversionary tactic" meant to draw attention away from issues like President Obama's budget and the economic stimulus package.

(For their part, Democrats don't appear to be giving up on pushing the anti-Limbaugh theme. Earlier this afternoon, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director J.B. Poersch sent out a fundraising email titled "Kowtow," alleging, "When Rush says jump, congressional Republicans say how high?" And the Democratic National Committee is asking for cash to pay for an anti-Limbaugh billboard in his hometown of West Palm Beach, Fla.)

The GOP's support of Steele does have its limits. While Republican lawmakers are happy to say they support him, they don't necessarily subscribe to his contention that he should be considered the current leader of the party or, as Steele put it, "at the end of the day, all roads are going to lead to this desk."

Nunes, the California lawmaker, disagrees. "We won't know who our leader is until we have a presidential nominee" in 2012, he said.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap, Ralph.....I didn't know Nixon was the one responsible for that particular bad stereotype of Republicans.
I really like Michael Steele and also think Andrew's post is dead on.
What I hate thinking about is the extreme right wing Republicans who will probably dig their heels in saying they don't want to change that way.
It'll be like Steele said, (paraphrasing) "Join us, or get run over"....or I'm thinking "left behind".

SB Smith