When the 2012 Republican National Convention kicked off in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 27, it raised concerns about the lack of diversity within the Republican Party. While the GOP highlighted minority political figures such as Condoleezza Rice, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez during the convention, few of the actual delegates at the convention were people of color. The Washington Post pointed out, for example, that just 2 percent of delegates were African American.
“This Republican Party base is white, aging and dying off,” David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies told the Post. According to the Pew Research Center, 87 percent of Republicans are white, a far higher proportion than the 63.7 percent of non-Hispanic whites that made up the U.S. population during the 2010 census. In contrast, just 55 percent of Democrats were white during the same time frame. Given this, Bositis was far from the only one to question why the GOP of the 21st century does not reflect the ethnically diverse United States. A number of prominent figures have weighed in on the GOP’s diversity problem by pointing out how Republican policies alienate people of color and how conservatives can adopt platforms that resonate with minorities.
GOP Needs New Message
Artur Davis, a former Alabama congressman who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, told the Post that the GOP can’t expect to reach blacks by emphasizing its opposition to Big Government. “It’s not just enough to go into the black community and say, ‘We want to keep government from taking over your life,’” he said. “That doesn’t resonate in a whole lot of the black community, who have come to see government as a salvation and as economic leveler. It’s going to take being willing to define conservatism as not just a defense of economic liberty but as a broader way of constructing a society that can promote social mobility.”
Not Many Black Women
Patricia Carroll, a CNN camerawoman, made headlines after she says whites at the Republican National Convention threw peanuts at her. “This is what we feed animals,” she says they quipped during the assault. Carroll suggested that the lack of minorities at the convention might have contributed to her attack. She told Journal-isms, “This is Florida, and I’m from the Deep South. You come to places like this, you can count the black people on your hand. They see us doing things they don’t think I should do. …There are not that many black women there. …People were living in euphoria for a while. People think we’ve gone further than we have.”
Republicans Must Diversify to Win
William J. Bennett, U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush, wrote in a CNN.com piece that the GOP must embrace multiculturalism if it expects to compete with Democrats in future elections. “With the nation’s changing demographics, Republicans can no longer rely on the South and Midwest to carry them to victory in 2012,” he stated. “Instead, they must broaden their base into traditionally purple and blue states. It's an uphill battle: President Obama leads by a sizeable margin with women and by wide margins with Latino and black voters. But it’s not insurmountable.”
GOP Stance on Immigration Alienates Latinos
Fox News analyst Juan Williams says that Republicans have much ground to make before they earn the loyalty of Latinos. He pointed out in a piece for TheHill.com that Democrats such as President Barack Obama have supported legislation that would ease the path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while Republicans have opposed such laws. Williams wrote: “Obama used his executive power to implement this provision of the DREAM Act after it had been blocked repeatedly by Republicans in Congress. Mitt Romney said that he would have vetoed the DREAM Act, and Paul Ryan voted against it in 2010. At a time when Republicans should be embracing the pragmatism and inclusion of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, they are doubling down on the rigid immigration posture of Kris Kobach, Pete Wilson and Arizona laws that alienate Hispanics.”