It’s been said a million times before, but the Republican Party needs to attract young and minority voters if it wants to be viable in the long-run. Unfortunately, the Republicans’ streak of making racially-biased statements does not seem to be changing any time soon.
At the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference, a conservative forum that brings together Republican politicians and citizens to discuss policy, a man named Rich Thompson spoke on a panel entitled “The True Rainbow Coalition: Building an Organization in Minority Faith Communities.” Thompson is the founder of 100 Dads, a Georgia-based initiative to get fathers involved in their kids’ schools. The initiative itself is laudable, but what Thompson said was not.
In his speech on how to reach out to minority communities, Thompson reasoned that Republicans weren’t attracting minority groups because those very same voters were “being paid by the government” through benefits.
This sentiment is oddly similar to Romney stating that 47% of America would never vote for him because they received “gifts” from President Obama. The only real difference is that Thompson has put a (more direct) racial twist on it by applying the statement only to “people of the black community, the Latino community, and the Asian community.”
Let’s see exactly why such a statement is dreadfully wrong.
First, it relies on an age-old assumption that most people on public assistance are minorities. The first thing to note is that 96% of the U.S. population has used public assistance at some point in their lives. Clearly, that’s not only minorities. However, even under the narrow definition of a public program as welfare, the U.S. government still largely services white populations. For example, almost 60% of food stamp recipients are white, but when you hear Republicans talking about how people on welfare will never vote Republican, they’re invariably blaming minority communities.
Second, the obvious implication that Thompson is making is that minority voters are too stupid to see what’s best for them. If you give them some money, you can do whatever you want to them, and they’ll stay silent. This claim mirrors that of several prominent conservative African American politicians, who often use slave imagery to tell black populations that they are “chained” to the Democratic Party. But that logic also assumes that minority populations cannot make informed, rational, discerning decisions by themselves, and that they need to be told how to vote by their enlightened peers. That doesn’t exactly sound liberating, does it?
It’s a wonder that after making such derogatory comments towards minorities, Republicans still expect them to flock to the conservative side. The saddest part is that many minority communities do share some conservative economic and family ideals, but the blatant racism that the Republicans still can’t get away from keeps pushing them away.