I have about come to the conclusion that the reason the Republican Party has trouble attracting the votes of blacks and Hispanics is because they don’t really want them. The RNC pays lip service to the idea and it says all the right things about being more inclusive and not ceding a huge portion of the population to the Democrats in national elections.
In a recent conversation with a black friend of mine, a wise long-time officeholder, he raised a good question. It has become a staple of the Democratic Party, from President Obama to Hillary Clinton and most other officeholders, to be pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.
There is a huge segment of the Republican Party, the social conservatives, who are opposed to gay marriage and they are anti-abortion. My friend points out that black ministers, who are very influential in the community and among black voters, are virulently anti-gay marriage and are anti-abortion. He notes that many Hispanic voters, the majority of them Catholic, hold the same views.
How is it that these two groups, who have more of an affinity for the views of social conservative Republicans, vote for Democrats? It would seem that the way to reach these groups and get them into the Republican Party is to appeal to their social conservatism.
It is understandable that black voters have given Obama huge margins in his two national elections. If you were black, wouldn’t you? But the Republican presidential candidates have always been able to get at least some black votes. They need to get them back in the future.
George Bush got 11 percent of black voters, John McCain got 4 percent.
Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Mitt Romney got 27 percent last year. Why the decline? Could it be the Republican primary debates in which all the candidates, including Romney, tried to outdo each other in denigrating Hispanics?
Democrats are jubilant about their prospects as the Hispanic vote grows. They predict that Texas will turn from a red state to a blue state. If the Republicans lose Texas, how do they ever expect to win another presidential election?
If you look at polling of Hispanic groups, immigration is not the most important issue. Education, jobs, and the like are rated most important. What I think makes them vote Democratic is the attitude of many Republicans that all Mexican-Americans are illegal unless they prove otherwise. Only American citizens vote. But if you treat Mexican-Americans like they are illegal, how do you expect to win their votes?
I think the attitude of many Republicans is: so what?
What contributes to this attitude is geographic patterns. If you look at a map of recent presidential elections, the Republicans carry rural counties and suburban counties. Democrats carry the cities—where the majority of the voters are.
Look at Tennessee. The rural and suburban counties have Republican legislators by and large. The Democrats are from the cities. While the Republicans hold the Legislature and governor’s office, all four major cities have Democratic mayors.
White suburban voters don’t know any black or Hispanic people—unless it’s the guy who mows their yard. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the most segregated hour in America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning. This separation isn’t likely to foster alliances between anti-gay marriage black ministers in the cities and the anti-gay marriage mega-church pastors in the suburbs.
Or the inner-city Catholic church with a large Hispanic population.
As a libertarian I’m not thrilled about mixing religious views in with politics. My point is, if social issues are uppermost in your mind when it comes to voting, then why aren’t social conservatives “evangelizing” minority voters with the same views?
I think if Republicans are going to convince minorities to vote for their party, they are going to have to know some.