Leslie Sanchez, author of Los Republicanos: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other, sees this year as a sign that the GOP is becoming more diverse:
Overall, 14 African-Americans across the country are running as GOP nominees for Congress. As the Frederick Douglass Foundation has pointed out, if just three of them win, it would mark the first time since Reconstruction that more than two African-Americans from the Republican Party have served in Congress.
And, as the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics has reported, six Republican women are running for U.S. Senate seats, and 128 Republican women filed and ran in primaries for the House, with 47 winning and moving on to the general election.
Granted, Sanchez admits that the GOP is "largely a white-male bastion," but she has hope that this will herald a new trend in women and minorities running under the Republican standard. I hate to be a downer, but the truth is that this isn't a particularly novel year the GOP in terms of diversity, and especially with regards to African Americans. As I wrote last week, the banner year for black Republicans was 1994, when 24 nominees ran for congressional office. And of those, only one -- J.C. Watts -- made it to the House, and he retired in 2003. Since then, there hasn't been a single African American in the House Republican caucus.
More importantly, the presence of African American candidates doesn't actually translate into support from African American voters. Dr. Laura notwithstanding, black people -- or any other minority group -- aren't tribal voters, and they will vote for candidates who either meet their issue concerns, or persuade them otherwise. Black Republicans won't bring along black voters for the simple reason that most black people are liberals. And for that reason, the black Republicans most likely to win --Tim Scott and Allen West -- will represent constituencies that are predominantly white and conservative. Likewise, there are more women running as Republicans than before, but because most women are more sympathetic to the Democratic Party, the mere presence of a female candidate won't do much to bring those voters into the Republican fold.
Put another way, if a political party exists to protect the interests of a socioeconomic elite, we should expect non-elites to withhold their support, even when that party recruits from non-privileged classes to make its point.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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