January 14, 2009

If only the GOP would reach out to minorities…

Although it is not my practice to recycle my newspaper material for this website (any more than it is to brag about my offspring), I am making this exception because of the illustrative value of the person depicted. It is impossible for me to find anyone who exemplifies more perfectly the semi-comatose state of Republican political intelligence than the outgoing Lancaster County Republican chairman. He is the embodiment of everything Sam Francis intended to convey when he described the GOP as ?the stupid party.? Dave Dumeyer would have to be invented as an ?ideal type? if he didn?t already exist. He and his ilk explain why we on the real right have come to look upon his party with unconcealed disgust.

According to Lancaster newspapers, Dave Dumeyer will be resigning his post as county Republican chairman on January 18, after six and a half years of dedicated service. In meeting with committee members this month, Dumeyer recalled his contributions in trying to ?help promote values, provide good government, and do good things for the community.? His only regret, looking back at his career in county government, is that he and his party had failed ?to find ways to reach out to the minority community.?

Most of this valedictory is standard stuff, and particularly the by now ritualistic GOP salute to ?values.? I suppose that term has something to do with nuclear families and attending church, but is usually vague enough so as not to offend liberal Democrats, who may someday vote Republican, perhaps by accident. Every time I see this term, I am reminded of President Clinton?s wily trick, when he appropriated that term to apply to his own national health care program, with the then magical prefix ?family.?

Particularly troubling is Mr. Dunnmeyer?s lament about his party?s not ?reaching out to minorities.? What can be inferred from his complaint is one of two things. A- Republicans here and elsewhere have not informed minorities about their existence and what they stand for as a party, because of some enormous communications gap. Perhaps every time the GOP sends out PR brochures, the distributors fail to reach the homes of blacks, Latinos, etc. But that doesn?t seem to be the case. Clearly minorities know about the GOP but choose overwhelmingly to vote against it. Indeed blacks refused to vote for a black candidate in the last gubernatorial race because he carried a Republican label?and perhaps because he sounded more like a traditional Republican than Mr. Dumeyer.

Although I gave my vote to this candidate, blacks and Latinos both voted against him in a convincing manner. Moreover, despite the strenuous efforts of President Bush and Senator McCain to appeal to Latinos, most notably on the question of illegal immigrants, and despite their all-to-obvious overtures to blacks, the Hispanic vote went to President-elect Obama by 67 to 30 percent and the black vote by 96 to 3 per cent. Equally dramatic, McCain lost over 80 per cent of the Jewish vote, despite the GOP?s fervent support of Israel and Obama?s onetime link to pro-Palestinian causes.

What one is forced to conclude is that minorities certainly know about the GOP but reject this party as being out of sync with their interests. Although Republicans often move as far to the left as do the Democrats on all kinds of issues, they also appeal (and often with shameless hypocrisy) to their constituents as a small-government party. When it does not get in the way of other things, they also passionately embrace traditional Judeo-Christian concerns. Clearly minorities don?t approve of what Republicans claim or at least are thought to stand for; and so they vote in most cases for the Democrats.

Dumeyer, who knows this unless he?s living on the Moon, is therefore proposing possibility B, namely that the GOP move to outdo the Democrats in those programs that the Democrats have strongly promoted to gain minority support, namely racial quotas, set asides, more profuse apologies about America?s past racist sins, and an even more generous amnesty program for illegal immigrants than the Democrats have come up with. Although Dumeyer may not intend to implement this entire package, undoubtedly he has been thinking about some of its items when he talks about ?outreach.?

The problem here is that most of these outreach ideas offend the GOP?s core constituency, which is white Christian and mostly male. In the recent presidential race, McCain won 55 to 43 per cent of the white vote. (The other two percent went mostly to dissenting parties of the Right.) How does Dumeyer intend to get these voters back? In each successive presidential race since the Reagan years, a decreasing percentage of the popular vote is going Republican, although Republican core constituents have not changed much in their core beliefs.

It is foolish for the GOP to chase after the liberal media and the left wing of the Democratic Party on minority issues when its own base continues to shrink. In fact there is no reason to believe that whatever Republicans lose in the trade-off, they would make up by attracting large minority constituencies. Such a strategy may leave them exactly where McCain got stuck in his disastrous presidential bid, somewhere between two stools and without the hope of being able to occupy one or the other.

Americans, we are told, are clustered around a moving center (albeit one that the media has generally managed to push leftward). While going after this center makes some sense, both national parties have constituencies they depend on to win elections. The GOP cannot seduce the other side?s foot soldiers without forfeiting its own. And it may lose its own troops without pulling in the other camp.

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