Outreach by Alternative

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lately, I have been seeing lots of advocacy for the idea of the GOP reaching out to blacks, who have historically bloc-voted for Democrats. One thing that has been glaringly absent from these calls has been any consideration of how best to do this. Thomas Sowell addresses this deficiency by offering lots of good advice on this score, in terms of both general principles and specifics. Sowell's general advice probably sounds a lot like mine, regarding how the GOP attempts to appeal to any voter:

Too many Republicans seem to think that the way to "reach out" is to offer blacks and other minorities what the Democrats are offering them. Some have even suggested that the channels to use are organizations like the NAACP and black "leaders" like Jesse Jackson -- that is, people tied irrevocably to the Democrats.

Voters who want what the Democrats offer can get it from the Democrats. Why should they vote for Republicans who act like make-believe Democrats? [bold added]
No surprise there and, as Sowell said about such calls, it's about time someone said this. What should interest the Republicans are the advantages Sowell maintains that they have over the Democrats on some issues that concern at least enough black voters to reduce the huge advantage the Democrats currently hold. School choice is one example:
The issue on which Democrats are most vulnerable, and have the least room to maneuver, is school choice. Democrats are heavily in hock to the teachers' unions, who see public schools as places to guarantee jobs for teachers, regardless of what that means for the education of students.

There are some charter schools and private schools that have low-income minority youngsters equaling or exceeding national norms, despite the many ghetto public schools where most students are nowhere close to meeting those norms. Because teachers' unions oppose charter schools, most Democrats oppose them, including black Democrats up to and including President Barack Obama.
Another issue the Republicans could see an advantage in is the minimum wage, but this would take work: The Republicans would have to explain why these laws result in more unemployment.

Sowell admits that this form of outreach will not instantly win over a large percentage of the black vote, but he does note that, "[I]f Republicans aim a one-size-fits-all message at all blacks they will fail to connect with the particular people they have some chance of reaching."

This would be a great start, but I would go further. The Republicans need to become a real alternative to the Democrats, meaning that school choice can't be the only challenge laid down to the government monopoly on education, for example. Such Republican stands as school choice, tax holidays, and even not being quick to raise the minimum wage may seem better (or, more likely, less bad) than the Democrat alternative, but they all beg the question of why we do not get permanent and universal relief from these government intrusions. Until the Republicans take up that gauntlet, they will neither be, nor look for long like, a real alternative.

-- CAV

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