The Republican’s Disconnection with Minorities and Women–By A C
Republicans do recognize that there is a reason that they didn’t glean the results they had hoped for in the 2012 election. But they cannot seem to identify what exactly that problem is. Some claim it was the failure of the individual candidates, as Red State’s Erik Erickson wrote: “If Republicans are honest, they’ll have to concede that the Romney campaign ran a bad campaign and only almost won because the President had a bad debate.” Others cite the honest fact that the demographics of the country have gradually changed and that the party has not appealed to minority voters. Their means of fixing that problem, however, appears to be a headstrong approach – to continue to hold true to all of the party’s ideas, and just attempt to have a more direct method to communicating the party’s philosophy to minority voters. As Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee stated on Fox News, “I think Republicans have done a pathetic job of reaching out to people of color, something we’ve gotta work on.” What Republicans don’t realize, though, is that regardless of the apparent speaker and whether the dialogue the speaker uses appears to be directed at minority votersor not, the party is always conveying a message to all of thecountry’s voters.
On November 14, Republican Senator John McCain went to the press with his opinion of the potential replacement for the Secretary of State position in President Obama’s administration. The two potential nominees, at that time, were UN Ambassador, and African American woman, Susan Rice and Democratic Senator John Kerry. McCain stated that because UN Ambassador Susan Rice went to the press with the intelligence she received about the Benghazi attack, and the information she was given had not specified the precise organization behind the attack, Rice was “not qualified” and that she was guilty of “not being very bright.” Surprisingly, amidst his apparent concern over the issue, on November 15, McCain held a press conference about Rice during a classified hearing he could have attended on the Benghazi attack.
On November 16, David Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, met with lawmakers to go over the talking points given to Rice and explained his rational for omitting that the perpetrators of the attack were Al Qaeda affiliates to avoid tipping off these terrorist groups. In a word-for-word comparison, the talking points were very close to what Rice said. On November 20, McCain began criticizing the Director of National Intelligence for removing references to terrorist groups in Rice’s talking points. Five days later McCain states: “I think she deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain her position.”
At a December 3rd press conference, McCain referred to John Kerry as “Mr. Secretary.” On December 10, it was announced that McCain would join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is in charge of vetting Obama’s Secretary of State Nominee. Only three days later, Rice released a letter to Obama withdrawing her name from consideration, stating, “The position of Secretary of State should never be politicized.”
Even if Senator McCain’s intention for his attacks against UN Ambassador Susan Rice wasn’t born of racism and sexism (although it certainly may be), but rather in hopes of gaining a Republican senate seat to take Kerry’s place, this and the fact the other members of McCain’s party made no attempts to quiet McCain’s unfounded qualm still sends a clear message to minority voters. In a nation where 93% of African Americans, 71% of the Hispanics, 73% of the Asians, 58% of unspecified nonwhite voters, and 55% of women voted for Obama in 2012, McCain, and fellow Republicans who stood on the sidelines as he proceeded, were not helping their party’s cause by attacking an African American woman with extraordinary credentials with false accusations and inconsistent levels of concern for the issue at hand.
Perhaps the issue the party is facing is not a matter of who is speaking or what audience they plan to primarily target, but a fundamental lack of empathy and understanding for both the experience and the point-of-view of American minorities and women. The party does not seem to understand that when they attack members of groups who have historically and presently had limited opportunities in this country, it is extremely insulting to continue to actively pursue limitations, especially for the few who have managed to succeed.