Saturday, December 05, 2009

Urban Republican Candidates: Will a “GOP Purity Resolution” Kill Them?

new-york-city-skyline2 Richard Ivory:

Recently a group of RNC members began a move to force the RNC to endorse what can only be construed as a set of
official litmus test. According to the New York Times, the resolution will punish any "Republican candidate who broke with the party on three or more of these issues- in votes cast, public statements made or answering a questionnaire. They would be penalized by being denied party funds or the party endorsement".

According to
Frum-Forum, "The GOP purity test resolution has obtained the necessary co-sponsors to bypass the RNC's resolutions committee and bring the proposal forward for an eventual vote".

Here is the resolution's list:
(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership

It is my sincere belief that if the Republican Party is genuinely serious about an urban Republican emergence, it must reject such a move. The test, if implemented, would deny much-needed funds to candidates campaigning in inner-city areas. Urban Republican candidates do not generally face the same problems as rural or suburban candidates and thus need more flexibility in shaping their message. Often times, their constituents are low-income and receive government benefits.

Any inner-city Republican candidate running on a platform that says "I want your vote because I want smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill" will loose. Again, this language may play rather nicely in many areas around the nation, but not in major urban settings. The better argument for urban Republican candidates is an emphasis on personal and community empowerment, and a focus on efficient and, where possible, limited government. The public policy agenda should be one centered on finding metrics to determine if services are empowering recipients or hindering them. The overall goal, over time, by introducing metrics of accountability is to have an informed and empowered voter. This, however, as any person living in an urban setting realizes takes time. Any litmus tests that forces a candidate to choose between getting funds and the overall tailoring of his message is undemocratic and a chilling violation of free speech and is a sure bet to loosing.

Case in point: Joseph Cao, the current U.S. Representative from Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District. Perhaps, he more than any other Republican candidate knows the complications inner-city Republican candidates can face when walking a fine line between party loyalty and practical politics. These past few weeks have been a doozie for Congressman Cao.

Cao's troubles started a few weeks back when he voted for the Health Bill, making him the only Republican to do so. Since then, some conservatives within the party have been calling him everything from a traitor to a wolf in sheep's clothing. Only a few months back, Cao was being praised as proof that the Party was competitive in urban areas. Nevertheless, alas, who has time to recall long-ago memories of a competitive party when you are "hunting rhinos"? Of course, it's easy to point fingers and call names, but when your district is 70 percent African -American you must do what your constituents mandate.

It is easy to be for smaller government when your entire voter base agrees with you. What if, however, you represent Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District? Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District is an area affected by Hurricane Katrina. It is, consequently, a place of poverty and of lost dreams where only a few years ago the streets were covered by a flood. The area to date has only one hospital for all its residents. It is easy to say "I don't want the governments help" when your house is up. What if, however, a flood of water destroys your house? How many conservatives States each year ask the government for help when hurricane season approaches?

Congressman Cao's District, more than any other, needs help! This is why, no doubt, he supported The Healthcare Bill. While the new congressional representative may have had problems with the bill, he was dealing with his political reality. Not to mention that he's up for reelection next year. While many may not agree with Joseph Cao, we can all certainly agree that he is dealing with a set of cards which many Republicans have never had to play.

Recently, Cao's spokesperson, named Princella Smith, put it this way while defending Cao from attacks: "He thinks for himself and works on behalf of his district. That doesn't mean that he's not a Republican. It means he's doing his job. One vote is not going to change that. That's why the GOP leaders respect him. Consequently, if there is any Republican - any official - who can win LA-02 in 2010, it is Joseph Cao."

Any policy requiring urban candidates to follow a litmus test before they can receive funding will undermine all sincere efforts to promote a civil Republican message in inner-city and urban areas. After looking over the list I'm not sure Lincoln himself would be eligible for funding and that's scary folks!

So, lets just take a look at what may happen if an inner-city canddiate ran on these issues:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill
In rehtoric and theory there is nothing wrong with this except that to run on this as a campaign slogan in order to get funds is nutty. Most voters (and that's what you need to win) would see that as opposing money to help them. Any Republican running against a Democrat is going to loose if they follow this.

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care

Again if Cao had opposed Obama's healthcare plan he would have lost hands down!

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation

Okay sounds great but that's probably not going to be a campaign slogan folks will pay attention to in most urban areas.

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check

Okay, again sounds great except that Unions run most urban areas and to deliberately p
provoke them means millions of dollars being run against you. And I seriously
doubt the RNC will make up the difference!

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants

Okay, sounds great of all your neighbors are legal and citizens but what if there thousands that aren't but there "voting children" are?

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges

Hey, I am the biggest Neo Conservative there is but I would never run a pro war message while running for office in Harlem.

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat

Again, as most urban city dwellers will tell you there is an anti war thread running through the head of most inner-city voters, especially with minority women who see there sons being blown to pieces and there teh ones who vote in larger numbers..in other words not an effective campaign strategy.

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act

So, by the time youre campiagn introduces itself to the public you will be blasted for being a hatemonger and a homophobe by the end of the week. After this the powerful urban GLBT community will pour millions of ads againts you just to make you suffer. By the end your opponent will look like teh moderate and you the extremist. And voting patterns show that voters will always choose moderatoon over extremism. Again, running on this just to get a few bucks from the RNC is laughable and you will loose.

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion.

Okay, so now you have offended teh GLBT community you can move on now to have women and pro-choice groups and voters attacking you. I mean you can't make this up!

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

Sounds great on a farm in North Dakota but try to run that through Detroit or Harlem and see how far you get.

So given this why would any one want to have a litmus test and why now after so many years? Politico the online political magazine provides a possible answer.
According to Politico:

"The primary goal of the purity resolution is to belittle and hamstring RNC Chairman Michael Steele. The resolution is made of key lieutenants behind the failed reelection campaign of Karl Rove's RNC chairman, Mike Duncan. Steele ran as the outsider to reshape the national GOP purpose and opposed the get-along Republicans who squandered a dozen years of GOP "control."

RNC Chairman Duncan's reelection bid was particularly hurt by President George W. Bush's staggering embrace of subsidizing the U.S. banking and auto industries in the waning days of his administration. Under Bush, government did not diminish. The RNC suffered massive alienation and loss of support from the grass roots, until Steele won an upset victory against Duncan in February. Steele went to work.

The back story is that the purity author, while undoubtedly a good lawyer, was also a close supporter of the defeated Duncan administration. He must have been good - for years, he billed and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from the RNC, doing its legal work. In fact, he received more revenue from the RNC than all other 163 members combined. His firm's contract with the RNC was cut off after Steele's election. Losing a valuable client is always tough. But mixing one's politics with personal business interests always raised a conflict problem.

Steele is having a blowout year. The grass roots responded with record-breaking donations, even overwhelming the Obama Democratic National Committee machine. The RNC is now out of debt with millions more for next year's political wars. The gubernatorial victories by Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia have cemented Steele's reputation. He personally directed the largest RNC funding to any state election in its history. He staked his reputation on those states, risking his chairmanship for underdog Christie and McDonnell.

In other words, this is pay back and the folks behind the resolution are the same ones who probably think Steele himself couldn't pass the test. They probably hate Steele's guts and decided to concoct tactics to cripple him given his recent success in winning elections and fundraising. Any person who lives in an urban area knows that a campaign like this is a recipe for disaster. It doesn't take a genius to see that such a direction in the longer-term will undermine the Party's chances of winning elections and remaining politically relevant. This purge would also push out moderates, and even Conservatives like Huckabee & Ron Paul. Such a litmus test like the one being proposed will accomplish only one thing cementing the party's image as a rural and mostly Southern Party.

But hey, maybe that's just what the sponsors wanted.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Ivory is the Publisher and Founder, of Hip-HopRepublican.com, a blog that delves into urban issues from a centrist perspective. Mr. Ivory is a political consultant who has worked on over a dozen political campaigns around the country. He has worked for both the Republican National Committee and was the College outreach director for Republican Youth Majority. He is the founder of The John Langston Forum and is at present the College outreach director for
Republicans for Black Empowerment.


HHR Note: HHR Blog is asking fellow urban Republicans to promote as a rational alternative The DC Republican Committee (DCRC) suggestions. This vibrant urban Republican agenda can be found on the website of
The DC Republican Committee (DCRC) which created a document entitled "A Republican Urban Agenda". Many urban Republicans and Hip-Hop Republicans can support this document. We believe that this document can be a start in implementing an effective strategy that Republicans can use nationwide. If the Republican Party is going to take its fight to urban American, it must be prepared and it must be in sync with the people it seeks to empower.

2 comments:

Count Busy said...

Very disappointing post. Reject common sense, morality and principles to get elected? Why not just go ahead and become a Democrat? Damn!

Greg said...

The reason for the "rhino hunting" is that the Rino's had led the GOP to follow the same road as the Democrat Left. In a word Socialism. This desire to spend every dime plus 2 more on social programs has severly damaged our economy. Note a story today that Moody's considers our AAA bond rating in trouble.

The economic downturn has impacted the Black Community far more than an other. Social programs have convinced a sizeable portion of the African-American community that they will be taken care of by the goverment. This is essentially political slavery conducted by the Democratic party.

Unfortunetly it has worked. The focus of Hip-Hop Republicans should be educating their fellow African-Americans that depending on the government to give you "Obama Stash" is a road to economic slavery and the gov't could care less about them.

Deficit spending and higher tax rates will continue to keep the economy is a low growth status and the under-educated, under-skilled, Black Community will suffer the greatest unless they begin to work together to end drop out rates, black on black violence, and this insane social idea that being successful is acting like "whitey".