Originally published in The Mac Weekly.
The "Liberal Sheep Response for America," in last week’s Mac Weekly,
disputed the GOP’s growing embrace of minority voters. The article also gives
us an opportunity to look at diversity here at home.
The math portion of
Freedman’s piece is relatively pointless. If anybody has taken
statistics, they will know that it is easy to make numbers tell whatever
story you want to tell. So Mr. Freedman can point out that the number
of minority GOP lawmakers in the House has only increased by 2% (the
previous letter was slightly off in its math) and has remained static in
the Senate. I can point out that the number of minority Republican GOP
Governors has increased from 4.3% to 14.3%, a substantial 10-point
swing. Numbers do not lie, but it is too easy to frame them in a
The more useful part of the back and forth going on
is the GOP’s relationship to minority voters. As a Republican from
Texas, I will be the first to admit that we have a lot of work to do in
this department. My party has gotten better at running candidates of
color, but the grassroots support among African Americans, Native
Americans, and to a lesser extent Hispanic voters is a difficult
obstacle to surmount.
Nevertheless, signs are emerging that the GOP is
on the road to creating a viable alternative to the Democratic Party for
these constituencies. For example, few lawmakers elected to support
Proposition 19 in California, the “legalize pot” measure. One man who
did actively campaign for the proposition was former Governor Gary
Johnson, a Republican from New Mexico who many believe will run for
President in 2012. He was joined in supporting this proposition by the
California NAACP, which in its endorsement acknowledged the
disproportionate pressure of the Drug War upon African American
communities. Similarly, Kentucky Democrat Jack Conway repeatedly
lambasted Senator-elect Rand Paul for his ‘weak’ stance on funding the
War on Drugs during the recent midterm elections.
Too often, Americans
of all ideologies write off those with whom they harbor disagreements.
At Macalester, Republicans are often left to the role of a curiosity,
something to be studied and understood but lacking any serious
contribution to political discourse. Similarly, Republican candidates
all too often ignore minority constituencies as reflexively Democratic
groups. Nevertheless, when we do cross that divide we can find common
solutions that were perhaps never anticipated. I hope we can all get
past this war between “Macalester’s sheep-like students” and a “dejected
cartoon super villain” and find some mutual ground.