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Does the GOP have a problem with minorities? The Republican Party has faced such accusations throughout the 21st century, particularly as Donald Trump rose to prominence as well as at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. During that convention, the GOP highlighted minority political figures such as Condoleezza Rice, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez, but few of the actual delegates were people of color.
In fact, the Washington Post pointed out that just 2 percent of delegates were African American. This stat and reports that President Barack Obama won reelection in large part because of support from the nation's three largest racial groups-blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans-have signaled that the GOP seriously needs to reach out to communities of color. Polls indicating that minorities overwhelmingly back Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 presidential race have raised similar concerns.
“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 2012 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.”
In 2016, little had changed. A number of people of color, including Republicans, were harassed, hit or thrown out of Trump campaign events. The New York Times recorded Trump supporters using racial slurs, misogynistic terms and engaging in other egregious behavior at the candidate's rallies.
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… ,” he stated. “Instead, they must broaden their base into traditionally purple and blue states. It's an uphill battle… 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.”
By the 2016 presidential race, Rubio abandoned inclusion to veer to the far right. The fact that he supported immigration reform was used to criticize him during his failed bid for president. Rubio's loss and Trump's gains indicate that the GOP has grown increasingly intolerant.