Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Few Random Thoughts on the RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity” Document

The Republican National Committee released its long term assessment report yesterday. Called Growth and Opportunity,” the document is intended to spell out the current state of the GOP (not good) and ideas on how it can improve. I haven’t read the whole report, but from what I’ve seen in the news I wanted to share these thoughts:
  • This report along with a some speeches by GOP leaders is in some aspects a breath of fresh air. There is an honesty in the report that I haven’t seen in a while among Republicans; a willingness to admit that the current incarnation of the party is scaring whole sectors of American society away.
  • The first step is to admit you have a problem and this report does that.I’m happy for the focus on minority outreach. It would have been nice to have done this prior to getting their butts whooped in November, but it’s at least happening. However, what remains to be seen is how this moves from talk to work. I also haven’t heard of seen any policy ideas other than immigration that will attract minorities.
  • It’s good to extend a hand of friendship, but people vote on what a political party will do for them, not on how nice people are. As Ben Domenech notes, the party needs to set aside things like the debt and tax reform and highlight conservative solutions to problems that Americans face and in this case what persons of color face.
  • Instead of talking about repealing Obamacare, there should be a focus on either reforming it to make it better or offer an alternative program like Health Care Savings Accounts. Will people like these ideas? I don’t know. But you have to offer ideas to fit what problems persons of color face, not what the GOP thinks is important.
  • I’m glad for the focus on social media. The problem here is they will have to link using new media with a credible message.
  • There wasn’t much about same-sex marriage or outreach to gays, but I never expected anything. That said, Republican candidates and local parties, especially those in blue states, should try to reach out to the gay community and even show up at a gay pride festival. Here in Minneapolis the city party has participated in Pride for years.
  • While the report was incredibly positive on reaching minorities, there will be a lot of pushback from the base and the conservative media. The National Review scoffed the attempt to meet with groups like the NAACP and La Raza, saying these minority advocacy groups oppose much of the GOP agenda. Their answer? Destroy them:
  • Finally, despite what National Review says, you have to support immigration reform. Opposing reform offends all Hispanics, even those who are native born Americans and it offends their friends. It doesn’t matter if we don’t get a ton of Latino votes. It doesn’t matter if you think they will just vote for liberals anyway. Opposing immigration reform will send the message that the GOP is against Latinos and that will prevent many folks from throwing the lever to the GOP.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus has promised to establish dialogues with groups such as LULAC, La Raza, and the NAACP, which strikes us as unhelpful and willfully blind to the fact that such groups are ideologically opposed to Republican principles. A truly conservative minority-outreach strategy would severely weaken these groups by challenging their claims to represent their respective ethnicities.

And they wonder why people call the GOP racist.

I’m not fan of the NAACP, but if the Republican party wants to be seen as legit in the eyes of persons of color, then the GOP needs to engage these groups. If you go around them, if you work to weaken groups like the NAACP, then don’t expect to get votes from persons of color. For better or worse, groups like La Raza are seen as the legitimate representatives for various ethnic groups. You gotta play with what you have, unless of course, you don’t give a rip about minorities.

There’s probably more that I could write, but this is what I got for now. After a good start, I’m interested to see how this report could change the GOP.
About the Author: Dennis Sanders is a pastor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has worked on centrist Republican issues for years, including stints as President of the Minnesota chapter of Log Cabin Republicans (a gay/lesbian advocacy group) and Republicans for Environmental Protection. He is the Publisher of the centrist Republican blog Big Tent Revue .

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