A few weeks ago, that new chairman of the SCGOP, Matt Moore of Columbia, met with the East Cooper Republican Club, where he spoke about reaching out to minorities. Last week, apparently in keeping with his outreach plan, Moore sent a fundraising email to supporters. The subject line? “Obama’s Gestapo.” Clearly, when it comes to courting minorities, Mr. Moore is doing it wrong.
The email states that the SCGOP is currently “fighting on so many fronts” and lists “ObamaCare,” the state’s economy, the IRS, and Benghazi. Out of the four, only South Carolina’s economy is a real concern. The other three are nothing more than the fantasies of the delusional, whipped up to excite the gullible. Mr. Moore either knows this, which makes him a huckster selling snake oil, or he doesn’t know this, which makes him a dangerous know-nothing with a megaphone. Either way, the email speaks to the fact that the Republicans already have an effective outreach to the nation’s real minorities: the ultra-rich and the fanatically religious.
The Republican Party, either at the state or national level, is not doing itself any favors if it continues to engage people with nonsensical rhetoric and base its entire existence on a simple refutation of whatever policies President Barack Obama is touting this week. The GOP’s disingenuous attempts to act horrified by scandals they’ve manufactured while ignoring the real ones affecting Americans is more troublesome than their tired and clichéd use of Nazi symbolism in an email. It’s all trite and boring, and it’s doing exactly what it is designed to do: pump more money into the political-industrial complex by replacing public policy with public relations noise and false controversy.
For the better part of 50 years, the GOP has been opposed to any sort of social welfare programs, often the ones that benefit the poor and especially African Americans in urban areas. The GOP idea of outreach is to find those few minorities who will say, “This was a terrible idea. Let’s end it immediately” and highlight them as some sort of beacon for a diverse GOP. They aren’t. They’re just people who agree with a horrible policy idea.
If the GOP was truly interested in African Americans for anything other than the “optics” of having black supporters, they could begin by offering clear, positive, and proactive alternatives to the welfare system they oppose. Where are the proposals for wide-reaching efforts to revitalize urban areas that have been hit hard by economic downturns, gentrification, or natural disaster in the last two decades? You won’t see those efforts from the GOP because, frankly, they want those people out of those urban areas in the first place (to be fair, so do many Democrats).
In another example of “outreach,” the GOP is working hard to insure that Hispanics won’t vote for them either. After all, the Dream Act — now widely vilified among Republicans — was once a GOP idea. Reagan enacted amnesty legislation, and George W. Bush supported immigration initiatives aimed at citizenship, but now, the GOP idea of Hispanic outreach is to have Rep. Steve King ranting about drug-running Hispanics with “calves like cantaloupes.” Good work, sir. That’s quite a way to impact the community your party wants voting for them.
Meanwhile, Republicans continue to reach out to women with efforts to end their right to make decisions about their bodies. In state after state, the GOP has acted against abortion rights and women’s rights. That’s certainly going to gain them support among women in the coming years, right?
For those whose gender or sexual preferences fall somewhere outside of “straight,” the message is changing somewhat, but still fairly clear. While South Carolina’s own Palmetto Family did not come right out and say that their opposition to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, which is being offered to incoming College of Charleston freshmen, was based on the subject matter — the memoir tells the story of a closeted father who later commits suicide — their insistence on hinting that the book was “pornography” was puzzling. It was also transparent. For Palmetto Family, the underlying message is simple: don’t teach children about identity, sexual or otherwise. Freedom of choice and the pursuit of happiness is for straight people only.
People support political parties precisely because of what they offer them. The problem is that Republicans are now only offering something that a dwindling minority of people actually wants, and as a result, cracks are not only starting to show in the Grand Old Party, but they’re slowly becoming major rifts. If the SCGOP is truly interested in representing minorities, instead of just trying to insure their continued viability as a party, then they must actually address the concerns of minorities instead of speaking to those few that agree with them and pretending that alone is diversity.