RNC Strangely Launches Black Outreach Effort In Detroit
Matt | On 18, Nov 2013
“Are my eyes deceiving me with a practical joke?”
That was the first thought that came to mind when I heard about the Republican National Committee’s latest “outreach” plan.
The RNC recently announced a plan to increase their inroads into the African-American community. Ground zero of this effort is The Motor City of Detroit, Michigan.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus traveled to Detroit to meet with business and community leaders about expanding their efforts with black voters. Priebus appointed Wayne Bradley, a radio show host, as the director of African-American Engagement for the state of Michigan.
Let me try to say something nice. I should applaud the RNC for its efforts because they have to start somewhere. Only six percent of black voters cast a ballot for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Black people historically supported the Democratic party — and probably even more in the past few years. The numbers at the national level show that Republicans have a strong disconnect and mistrust with black voters.
The RNC’s black outreach has become problematic for me because it’s all smoke and mirrors. As a black voter, I feel Republican leadership is completely disingenuous about wanting my vote. Their words say one thing, but their actions are totally from another planet.
The following are a few of the recent reasons why I feel Republicans have failed to connect with black voters:
1. Black unemployment: This is the silent killer that no one seems to discuss in the Republican Party. Black unemployment has been nearly twice that of whites for much of the Obama presidency. Not only has the GOP not led on black joblessness, but they have failed much of the country on the same issues. Fights over Obamacare, entitlements, the debt ceiling, immigration, and other issues have taken the ball off of what Americans care about the most — jobs! Without work, African-Americans cannot take care of their families. If Republicans aren’t plugged into kitchen table issues, they will continue to lose black voters at nearly every other turn.
2. Government shutdown: Black voters, like much of the nation, hated the government shutdown. For some, it supported the long-held notion among African-Americans that Republicans want to block much of President Obama’s agenda simply because he is black. The shutdown antics were yet another example to add to a long list of times when Republicans were unwilling to compromise with the president.
3. Members increasingly alienate perfectly good voters from their side: Remember the North Carolina GOP official who referred to “lazy blacks” in his interview on The Daily Show? Or, how about Rick Santorum’s “Blahhh people” comment on the campaign trail in 2012? Well, those examples, though extreme, are remembered by black people. They are dragged back into the spotlight just at the convenient times when Republicans think people have forgotten .. like now.
4. No expanded Medicaid in 25 states: Even though Michigan is participating, 25 states have chosen not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion would be of great benefit to blacks — particularly in the Deep South where not one of those states decided to expand the program. The move leaves millions of qualified Americans with no health insurance options because they are not poor enough for standard Medicaid and don’t make enough to afford traditional plans on the healthcare exchange.
5. Attack on healthcare: Looking beyond Medicaid, black voters (such a myself) are at a loss as to why Republicans would not want to reform our healthcare system. Under President Bush, healthcare premiums went up yearly. Republicans have offered no real plan to cover the (at one point) nearly 50 million uninsured. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, real people have lost jobs and coverage in the Great Recession. Some have even had to file bankruptcy to relieve themselves of debt related to medical bills. The Republican Party has shown no leadership to fix this crisis.
6. Lack of viable black candidates that connect with the community: In the past three years, the Republican Party has been overtaken by the Tea Party. Black people who have served as the presidential candidate and Congressmen during that time (i.e., Herman Cain, Sen. Tim Scott, and former Rep. Allen West) have not connected well with black audiences. For example, West would be the most extreme of the three. He aligned himself with Sarah Palin at several points and never supports President Obama. Scott is not a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, though that might not be an entirely bad thing. And Cain was a fringe candidate from the beginning of his bid for the presidency. Black people just don’t see many Republicans of color at a national level that connect with their interests.
I could go on, but there aren’t enough hours in the day.
For the Republicans, I wish them well in the inner-city of Detroit. Maybe being in the Democratic bastion will help them see some tough truths about why their messages are not connecting. Who knows? I hope Mr. Bradley is being honest with the powers that be in the party.
I’m not buying this “outreach,” on a national level, though ….