BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Boosting GOP's Black Outreach
William Reed | 1/8/2014, 3 p.m.
"I'd go to the NAACP and talk about why the African-American community should be demanding paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." — Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in 2013
Who’s your favorite Republican candidate for 2014? Elections for the United States Senate will be held on Nov. 4, 2014, with 33 of the 100 Senate seats being contested whose winners will serve six-year terms from January 3, 2015 to January 3, 2021. Territorial and state elections will occur for the U.S. House of Representatives, governors in states and local elections on this date.
As we start 2014, political polls indicate, “three out of four Americans believe that “the nation is on the wrong track.” Despite their dissatisfaction with what has been going on, few Blacks have lists of Republican candidates they are “considering voting for.” The party still has a reputation of being racist and if it doesn’t get more votes from “minorities” the Grand Old Party (GOP) may soon go the way of the Whigs. While the Republicans cannot continue competing as “a party of old White men” the party establishment has come up with an illusion of increased number of Black Republicans.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says the party wants to broaden its appeal and reach more Americans, particularly Blacks. But, Republicans are simply mouthing the same staid policy and rhetoric. In Congress, Republican representatives hit new lows among Blacks for their role in the government shutdown. In spite of the Republicans’ expansion of their numbers of Blacks, the majority of Blacks still view Republicans as Whites who only care about other rich Whites. Republicans still lack gravitas in garnering Black votes. The majority of Blacks believe they’re supposed to be Democrats. Nine times out of 10, the average Black family has been taught that Democrats are compassionate and care about the little guy and those in need.
The GOP is at a great political disadvantage and can only be kept relevant by increased votes and support from racial minorities. To be competitive, the Republican Party has to take creditable and strategic measures that can counter the Democratic monopoly on the Black vote. Republicans continue to act in ways of old and against new ways to gain interests and support from Blacks. The Republicans have no message that is being heard among African-American voters. To get out of the single digits among Blacks, Republicans must rethink their message, policies and method of delivery.
This time around, the Republic National Committee’s (RNC) outreach to Black voters must be more substantive. In the 2012 election, only 6 percent of African-American voters cast ballots for the GOP’s Mitt Romney. After their last showing, how serious can the Republicans be about getting the Black vote and not aggressively addressing racial matters while utilizing the Black Press of America to present these views?
It’s not “racism” against Blacks, but “benign neglect” of this population that causes Republicans to lose Black votes. Even modest inroads into the Black community could tip a multitude of elections the GOP’s way. To get Black votes Republicans will have to go into Black neighborhoods with a consistent message that explains ways, conservative principles, values and enterprise, can and do, work for African Americans.
Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich has been a power broker in Washington for decades. He has long relationships with Black decision makers and influencers in the style GOPers need to employ to garner greater numbers of Black votes. Newt knows the GOP must approach Black voters in credible and creative ways. The GOP has a Washington establishment of entrenched congressmen and consultants who Newt can teach a thing or two about what to do in “Black outreach.” While Black newspapers are not a part of today’s Republicans’ outreach, Gingrich’s decades-long business and political relationship with Atlanta Daily World publisher C.A. Scott as his own main medium among Blacks should prompt some new age thinking at the old RNC.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.