Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus inherited a simple mission: stop inflaming racism and expand the voter base beyond White, male America.
Like so many Republicans before him, Priebus repeatedly gets in his own way in his attempts to appeal to Blacks and other minority groups.
The RNC’s latest effort to sell itself is a plan to showcase the diversity in the GOP ranks.
The Rising Stars initiative highlights the next generation of Republicans: a group of activists, authors, elected officials and candidates who combat the GOP’s “old boy” image.
In its initiative, the RNC’s publicity professionals will be shining a spotlight on its younger, minority up-and-comers every three months. The first batch of Rising Stars includes T.W. Shannon, Oklahoma’s first African-American Speaker of the House and a protégé of former Rep. J.C. Watts. The RNC plans to thrust Black Republicans such as Shannon into the limelight.
To grow and expand the party among Blacks, the GOP should remember that “it’s all about the economy.” Despite woeful, to no economic gains under Democratic political leadership, African-Americans have allowed themselves and their issues to be dumbed down to accept mediocre governance.
The last 40 years, the Black vote has gone so overwhelmingly for Democrats that the GOP has never invested much effort in trying to capture it. In what Priebus says is “an unprecedented effort,” the RNC is putting money and muscle into getting more African Americans to vote Republican. The RNC just hired 150 field staffers “to help court new voters.”
Some say Preibus should spend his money elsewhere and think that the Republican Party faces an impossible task adding Blacks to their ranks. With targeted efforts, the RNC can easily capture 30 percent of the Black vote by 2016. Party leaders can’t second guess themselves and they must continue to provide the resources necessary for the outreach to be successful. The Republicans have to deliver messages among African-Americans that explain to them why the GOP’s world view is in their best interest.
The Republicans need to project images and an agenda that Blacks can relate to. In order to be effective, the party needs to provide the Black outreach team the budget and autonomy they to need to set up networks that allow them to consistently engage African Americans through their media, about their issues.
Priebus says the RNC expects the staffers they recently hired to live and work in minority communities and pitch Republican values. Between the headquarters’ crew and field representatives, Republicans should be putting forth issues that Blacks truly care about, and through new technology and local news outlets to “meet them [Blacks] where they are.”
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.