alien & sedition.
Monday, September 17, 2007
  GOP Frontrunners Snubbing Minorities Again

Cross-posted at The Right's Field.

MyDD's Melissa Ryan wrote about this yesterday: Giuliani, Romney, and McCain have all turned down invitations to participate in Tavis Smiley's All American Presidential Forum on September 27. She cites Jack and Jill Politics:
Tavis did a 'Shout out' to his fellow Black Republicans, asking them why they were so silent on this matter. They keep on yapping that the GOP is a valid alternative for Black America, yet, when a nationally televised forum is put together so that GOP Candidates can present what they believe are GOP answers to concerns of the Black community, three of their Major Candidates don't even bother to respect Black Americans with their presence.

Melissa adds:
I don't know about you but I'm begining to get the impression that much of the Republican field just doesn't care for debates and forums. If it's not a choreographed staging of tightly scripted interactions with supporters enthusiastically waving campaign paraphernalia they're just not interested.

I agree, and it certainly has something to do with why the GOP candidates have been so leery of the YouTube debate. But the snub to nonwhite voters is worthy of notice over and above any general reluctance to debate. As president, George W. Bush has done little but damage to minority interests. But as a politician, he has been unusually keen -- for a Republican -- to win minority support (no, it doesn't add up, but that's par for his incompetent course). Right from the 2000 campaign, Bush and his advisors have made it a point to reach out symbolically to African-American and Hispanic voters (who can forget the demographics onstage during the RNC in Philly?), while his surrogates in the conservative movement work to convince their compatriots of the importance of gaining votes among those constituencies. Such efforts were not fueled by the Bushies' personal hunger to improve race relations, but by cold hard electoral math.

But so far in this 2008 cycle the GOP has presented nonwhite voters not with a friendly face, but with a series of cold shoulders. While it's clear to anyone who keeps up with intra-conservative debate that any candidate hoping to win the nomination will have to distance himself from a good number of Bush's perceived sins against the right -- not least of them his embrace of so-called "big-government conservatism" -- it's remarkable to think that the effort to expand the GOP beyond its white Christian base may be considered one of those sins. Perhaps it's because, in the end, the administration's effort failed. But that doesn't change the math. Bush tried and failed. The current Republican contenders aren't even going to try.

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