February 20, 2009

Steele's Hip Hop Recruitment Plan is.... Ludicris

Michael Steele plans a full on PR blitz to capture the minds and hearts of America's hip hop generation. He tells the Washington Times:

"We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross-section," he explained. "We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

This is ridiculous. A middle aged, balding black republican takes over the RNC and all of a sudden its about hip hop? Thats job #1 now, capture the "hip hop" generation of latinos and blacks? Tell me he's kidding. Please, somebody tell me that he is just joking.

Shay, of Booker Rising, a favorite daily read, has this response:

Wrong move to target one of the most leftist, victimologist-prone groups within Black America. First things first. Mr. Steele should focus on the self-identified black conservatives (31.3% of Black America, compared to 43.6% who identify as liberal and 24.4% who identify as moderate) who now mostly vote Democratic. Or his fellow Catholics: among black Americans, black Catholics are significantly likelier to be Republicans than any other religious group. Or blacks who own stocks. These folks are more persuadable to his message. They tend to not hang out at gatherings that promote cultural crudeness.

Shay's points are pretty solid and I certainly buy the argument that if Steele believes the PR approach is whats lacking, he ought to solidify the GOP's weak market position with that portion of the black electorate already disposed towards them. The GOP has a very small beachhead with blacks, and there is some merit to the idea that they need to battle further up the beach from there, though it is metaphorically as difficult and deadly as storming the beaches at Normandy.

But I would argue the fail here is more fundamental.  GOP strategic thinking about blacks and latinos as electoral constituencies, particularly blacks, from the base seemingly right up to its leader, the Man of Steele, assumes that blacks are too stupid to act in their own self interest. GOP thinking takes the position that blacks have been brainwashed and turned into political zombies in thrall to the Democrats. Outreach to them therefore must be crafted like cult deprogramming, to break them out of their trance.

Steele's approach assumes that the issue is not the GOP's principles, but its marketing of the message thats the problem. Blacks and Latinos are not with the party because apparently, we are just too stupid to understand the superiority of GOP thinking explained in plain english. But have no fear, the key to activating the higher brain centers of all us dumb, unsophisticated minorities is the high technology of hip hop. If we rap it, they will come.