June 24, 2013

Tips to Win the Black Vote#2: Stop GOP Brand Corrosion From Stupid Racially Tone Deaf Messaging Errors

On June 20th, RNC Chairman Priebus called for the resignation of Jim Allen, the GOP county chairman in Montgomery IL.  This was in response to his comments directed at Erika Harold, a fellow republican, who is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Rodney Davis.  Here's what he said:

Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Sh*tcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.
The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.
 Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.
 The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it.
 Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them.

The RNC would likely have let the matter fade into obscurity but for a group of black conservatives, led by the intrepid Lenny McCallister, who mounted a quick twitter campaign to demand accountability. The republican party can't tolerate hostile rhetoric that is offensive to African Americans if it wants it to get the time of day with black voters. Unfortunately for the republican party, the reasons behind this recurring hostile rhetoric is a deeper problem for the party than simply egregious messaging mistakes.

The fundamental reason we see this again and again is because the party does not believe it needs black voters to win national elections and it conducts its political practice and messaging accordingly, to its detriment.  That's the decision the party has to make, whether or not it wants to bring this voter constituency into the party.  They have not done that yet, and frankly, might never do it.  While they dither, the electorate is turning browner by the year. White voters are becoming a smaller share of the electorate and it is not politically tenable going forward to rely on white voters alone to win national elections while blissfully alienating black voters like some organizational doppelganger of Paul Deen.  But until they grapple with this basic issue, these hostile rhetoric eruptions will continue to corrode the GOP brand.  So what's RNC Chairman Reince Preibus to do?

Look to Lincoln.  Lincoln was very clear about the fact that he took action to end slavery to save the Union, NOT because he felt slavery to be a moral abomination that must be ended. Lincoln certainly felt that the practice of slavery was wrong and ought not to be practiced in the United States.  But Lincoln however found himself confronting a dire situation. The issue of slavery, with all its economic and social contradictions, absurdities and moral atrocities, was ripping the country apart. He determined that if he was to save the Union slavery would have to be ended. He did not adopt this course out of great compassion for the plight of blacks in slavery. He was quite clear on this point, as he explained to Horace Greely Aug. 22, 1862, with the Emancipation Proclamation freshly drafted in his desk:

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union

I think Chairman Preibus is likely of the same mind regarding blacks as a political constituency and is clearly confronted with a mirror of Lincoln's challenge in saving the party from demographic marginalization, even oblivion.  In a rapidly browning electorate, in a country where the majority of children under 5 are non white, the writing on the wall is clear.  To remain a viable party, the GOP must engage these minority communities.  The pragmatic course Chairman Reibus should set is to make it forcefully clear to formal party leadership from top to bottom that this type of hostile rhetoric is corrosive to the GOP brand and won't be tolerated.  It hurts the party in minority communities and it hurts it among young white voters.  His action in the case of Jim Allen is the blueprint for this brand protection strategy.  People in party leadership who use this kind of rhetoric should be dealt with quickly and with prejudice to send the message that the party will not tolerate this kind of brand degradation.  Going further (will require some real cahones) RNC leadership should push back on opinion leaders such as Rush, Coulter, Hannity and the rest of that crowd who traffic in this rhetoric for profit and fame to further marginalize it.

Until such time as the party decides it does (or does not) need black voters as a political constituency to win, taking aggressive steps to protect the GOP brand from unforced errors like the comments of Jim Allen is the smartest strategy Chairman Reibus can undertake. 

P.S.  Rodney is not a bad looking guy, but I'm betting he can't take Harold in the swimsuit segment, and what do you bet every male voter in his district wishes that were part of the primary contest right now?

P.S.S.  Chairman Reibus, this tip series will really help you out if you heed my advice.  If you should do so and reap those benefits, a little credit will be much appreciated. 
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