As a black conservative, I have attempted to assist congressional candidates reach out to minority voters, only to be rebuffed. While the staffers I have spoken to were polite, it is obvious that they do not consider it worthwhile to even want to attempt to make an effort to win disaffected, like-minded black voters.
This is a major mistake. While many black voters are not going to consider the Republican Party, there are sizable numbers of business owners, church-goers and older African Americans who are not adverse to listening to reasons why they should consider voting for a conservative.
The difficulty is reaching out to these voters, going to where they are and being willing to put your ideas before a skeptical audience.
And small wonder. If conservatives continually ignore major portions of the areas they represent, they will continually get hostile responses. But making overtures to those areas, even when you are not the recipient of large numbers of votes will at least show that you are willing to listen to the concerns of that constituency.
I attempted to give some ideas to the campaigns of Congressman Pat Tiberi of the Ohio 18th District (where my wife works), and Steve Austria of the 7th District (where I live). I spoke with Congressman Tiberi’s campaign director who was kind enough to give me some time, but did not respond after I sent an e-mail detailing specific ways to reach out.
Congressman Austria’s office did not give me the time of day.
Our elected representatives are called to take into consideration the needs of all constituents. It is incumbent upon them to not only reach out to others for the benefit of their careers, it will benefit the Republican Party in the long run.
One only has to look at demographic trends to realize that even in the Midwest, whites will soon be less than the majority before the mid-century mark. If Republicans expect to be more than a marginal regional party, they will have to take a more realistic approach to reaching minorities.
The reason I became a conservative was because of the IDEAS that I heard from people like Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and William F. Buckley. And it will be by expounding those ideas in the public square that African Americans, Hispanics and others will be exposed to those ideas, not by filtering them through the lens of the media.
Candidates need to get out among the people, even the people who disagree with them. For even if they disagree with you, they will respect you if you come to where they are.