If you believe the opinion polls, and in this case I think that I do, President Obama is looking more and more likely to be headed for a second term. The worse news for Republicans is that their chances of retaking a majority in the Senate are not looking very good either, so we may well be looking at another four years of Democrats setting the agenda in Washington while the Republican-dominated House of Representatives either goes along for the ride or continues to drag its feet.
A look at the long term doesn’t provide the GOP with much room for optimism, either. The party is not what you’d call racially diverse, but America is and is becoming more diverse every day.
About 92 percent of registered Republicans are Caucasians. In a few decades the majority of people in the U.S. will be something other than Caucasian. You can do the math yourself. If the party does not figure out a way to attract more non-white voters into its fold, it is going to become a minority party.
In the words of Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., “we’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Frankly I don’t think that quotes like that are helping the Republican cause very much. And I don’t think Mitt Romney is doing much to change the party’s image as being a club for well-to-do white males either. This is more than just an image problem though -- it’s a threat to the GOP’s long-term survival.
So what should they do about it? First they need to recognize the problem, and judging by Sen. Graham’s quote, I think that we’ve probably reached that point. The next step should obviously be to try and attract more minorities to join the party, but how can that be accomplished?
In general I’m not big on things like affirmative action, but in this case I think Republicans do need to make a genuine effort to reach out to non-white voters and make them feel welcome. I’m not talking about pandering, and I’m certainly not talking about changing their values to become more acceptable to people who genuinely prefer the Democrats’ ideas about government. I don’t think that’s necessary.
I know for a fact there are plenty of Americans who are not Caucasian who believe in smaller, less intrusive government, low taxes and fiscal responsibility. Those are (or should be) the core values of the Republican Party, and I believe there are millions of ethnic minorities in this country who would be willing to consider getting involved with the party if they were made to feel welcome there.
Republicans need to reach out to black, Hispanic, Asian and other non-white voters and invite them to join the party, assume positions of leadership, and run for office. The more people of color get used to seeing people of color holding important positions within the party and running as GOP candidates, the less likely they are to see the party as unconcerned about or even hostile toward them.
I know some Republicans wanted to see Condoleezza Rice as Mitt Romney’s running mate this year and if Romney loses I’m sure she’ll be encouraged by many within the party to run as the nominee in 2016. I think that’s a good idea, but it’s not a silver bullet. A much broader outreach effort is required.
At this year’s GOP convention they did make an effort to include black and Hispanic speakers, but those speakers looked out at an audience of delegates that was 98 percent white. No one watching at home was fooled. If the party wants to stay relevant, that cannot happen again in four years.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.