Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Young Blacks & The Republican Party

by Richard Ivory

A few weeks back an assemblage of party activist around the nation gathered to remember the life of Jack Kemp, the former pro quarterback and politician. Jacks life work of seeking to reach out to empower urban and minority communities around the nation was truly remarkable for a politician, and even more so for a Republican. He was a strong advocate for empowering the poor and improving the inner city with common sense polices.

His campaign to make the GOP into a truly big tent party is a side of his story that few know. The Nation, a liberal magazine, had an article out a few weeks ago detailing Jack Kemp’s struggle to turn the GOP into what it called “a modern tribune of humane and enlightened conservative ideals”. This goal of Jack Kemp was based on the twenty-first-century version of the British Tory Party that evolved under the leadership of Benjamin Disraeli”. The article written by long time Kemp friend John Nichols is entitled Jack Kemp vs. the Party of No.

The GOP has over the years failed to take on Jack Kemp’s call to reach out, in a serious manner, to minority voters. This unwillingness to reach out to minority voters is evident in every major political demographic poll. Its failure to launch and create an urban common sense platform towards young black voters has been quite unfortunate. In the past, the GOP felt that older middle class blacks were their primary target. Statistics, however, demonstrate that it was their children- not their parents- that the GOP should have reached out to.

The failure to cultivate these younger voters has all but reversed any hopes of changing this course. Many see the party as stuck in the past and out- of- touch. Younger Voters have all but turned their backs on our party even though Younger Voters agree with us on many key issues.
According to
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, only 10.3 percent (learners included) of 18-25 year old blacks today actually identify with the Party. The numbers were once going in the GOP’s favor. Their latest study, however, is the first since 1984 in which younger African Americans were less Republican than older African Americans.

The study goes on to say that “this trend represents a potentially troubling datum for the GOP because for the last 20 years, the Republican Party’s best prospect for improving their African American support was through the younger cohort.” Further, the study went on to say that, the alienation of young African Americans from the GOP does not mean they oppose Republican principles. A sizable proportion of these young voters-between one third and one-half-are sympathetic to Republican Party issue positions.

As such, The Center’s 2002 national survey actually suggested that the GOP might expect to be more successful appealing to younger African Americans than older because according to studies “25 percent of this population are self-described conservatives, and 66.4 percent support school vouchers for public, private, or parochial schools. On the issue of Social Security which is a signature issue of the Democratic Party, 61.2 percent of young blacks believe they will get back less from Social Security than what they pay into Social Security, and a substantial 79.3 percent favor partial privatization of Social Security”.

On the values front, the study says, “a majority (52.9 percent) of these young African Americans attend church at least once a week. Moreover, that despite the compatibility between GOP issues, positions and the views of many young African Americans, “the overly conservative, Southern White nature of the National Republican Party keeps young blacks in the Democratic Column.”

The need and the time to change this tide in younger and minority voters are now. If the GOP ignores this opportunity it could potentially loose its hold on another generation of minority voters. We need to as a party do what one person suggested on an HHR online forum and begin to see outreach not as pandering but being responsible for taking action to grow our Party in communities where we are currently under-represented. Seeing it as a valid and necessary business module for reaching our overall goals of winning elections and being politically relevant.

Richard Ivory is the publisher of the centrist blog; he has worked for the Republican National Committee and was the college outreach director for the Republican Youth Majority.


Curious republican said...

I am curious. If we reach out to the young people, of any race, should we let go of the values we believe in, or should we try to teach our values and pass them on. For me, it does not matter if you are black or white, religious or not, the values are what we need in that party, or we will no longer have those values, and both parties will be the same. My friends, who happen to be black, are republican because of these values. Where will they and I go, to have advocates who believe like we do? I am asking this out of respect, and trying to find answers. Not as a cynic. I too would like the young, of all races to know that the republican party is for them. However, I would hate to see the liberal values become a part of it to have anyone come this way. I just see so much baggage that comes with the lack of learning values that will help them for a life time. This coming from a woman who lived too much, and learned from both blacks and whites that I deserve better. I am grateful for those who taught me that I deserve better. Look forward to your response.

Smile said...

Thank you, Mr. Ivory, for all your efforts.

The GOP needs to have a long term strategy that is consistent beyond votes, campaigns, and cycles. It must incorporate things that can be committed to and the commitment must be consistent. The consistency must be retained regardless of outcome. It should be viewed like a small plant that will be steadfastly tended by steps taken until mature. Consistent and committed may require not being overly complicated, erratically assuming one can be everything to all.

On this fine article, I wonder why the 'black' constituency has a problem with 'white' southerners now but didn't have that problem in times past. The so called southern strategy seems to reflect a morbid fixation on party rather then issues. It seems if one party suggests something, it is rejected. If the other incorporates the same thing, it is excepted.

The dilemma many may have is knowing that others may be requesting an answer but the answer will be rejected even when correct. What to do and how not to be confused by this and tending to unresponsiveness?

HipHopRepublians said...

I do not think the issue is values but presentation. I will give you an example lets take the issue of "states rights". To rural white conservatives this is a wonderful concept and in truth there is strong legal precedent for it and is often used by the left and right. However for blacks states rights is only viewed in the context of race, and segregation where politicians and the KKK used this argument to torture and terrorize blacks in the south. To many blacks this is what they see and hear when Republicans use this term, this is why perhaps personal empowerment or community empowerment initiatives are a better use of terms. We need to start understanding that words mean things to different people.

Erin Hazard said...

You may disagree but social issues have long been the divider between liberals and conservatives. In fact, my contention is that it's truly the social issues (i.e. abortion) that has divided this country and other issues related to party principles have followed suit (such as fiscal issues).

Terms are not sincere... methods to make people vote for your cause are not sincere. Telling people that because they cannot have healthcare because they do not have a job will make the Repubs a loser with this young, empathetic generation each time.

Swagger said...

You may be correct on a national scene but the statistics show that minorities are socially conservative. In fact, some of them are more socially conservative than white Evangelical Christians; however they are liberal on economic issues. In fact if you took race out of the factor and based the black vote within the Democrat party purely on religion it would be similar to the religious right on many of the key major social issues. The GOP social conservatives have little respect or relationships in urban areas to actually tap into this. Groups like the Christian Coalition get there support primarily in rural areas not urban and have pretty much ignored socially conservative minorities.

The only reason social conservatives won in California, around the issue of gay marriage was not the millions of money they spent but because of the large minority socially conservative minorities that turned out in mad for Obama. They said yes to Obama and no to gay marriage. Even with this, the evangelical base which is primarily white failed to see the significance in this. So technically, there could be an alliance there but I doubt it. Its odd because on every major issue they claim to hold dear to they could win just by reaching out to minorities in urban communities.

Count Busy said...

However for blacks states rights is only viewed in the context of race, and segregation where politicians and the KKK used this argument to torture and terrorize blacks in the south. To many blacks this is what they see and hear when Republicans use this term...We need to start understanding that words mean things to different people

To me this is crazy. Words have to have fixed meaning. This idea used by the left--from homosexual activists to race hustlers and more--is multiculty BS. Things needed to be said straight and plain, and if people twisted up with anger and hatred and with their minds and emotions stuck back in 1955 don't read them right, then it's a good bet that they going to reject all explanation, definition, and rewording that you come up with.

Give it to me striaght, man. I don't want to see some fool pandering politician on TV monday talking one way to whatever group, then have him come "down" to the hood and talking "down" to me.

People supposed to choose the politicians that match up with what they believe in, not by whether they speak in the same way or look the same. Period.

Melvin Count

Anonymous said...

I understand now, what you are saying about the term 'states rights' as negative terminology among African Americans. My frustration as a white conservative is that so much of the terminology is misconstrued with no way to find out why it may be offensive or upsetting that I find it hard to ask sincere questions without offending. I have had many friends who were of every ethnic background.

I honestly could care less what color a person is, how much they make or who they know. All I really care about is whether someone is a decent person.

As a conservative, I believe that less government and more personal freedom is the key to liberty, and in the end, freedom to make individual choices, good or bad, is the key to equality. I can't ever understand what it is like to be a person of color.

However, I do understand what it is like to be written off as a woman, and to have people I looked to write me off and tell me there was no hope and to give up because I would never amount to anything. I have made bad choices and had to dig myself out of the pit I created, sworn never to make such bad decisions, and landed in new and deeper pits shortly there after.

I love conseratism because it is a timeless promise that if I am willing to try harder, work harder and make better choices, I am not predestined to failure.

I love this blog, because it is the first place I have been able to get insight to why African Americans view things the way the do, and that there is someplace that race can be put aside somewhat, and honest open discussion can insue.

I really value what this site has to offer, and appreciate the matter of fact way you explain things that could be inflammatory, and instead, turn it into an opportunity to open and broaden understanding and communication.

Keep up the outstanding work you are doing.

meme said...

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." – Mark Twain.