THE AUDACITY OF TOKENISM.

I think Jonah Goldberg deserves some credit for saying just what's on his mind here. He thinks "an Hispanic Ward Connerly could do wonders for the GOP."

For starters, I think the ideal Republican candidate just might be Hispanic — and tough on immigration. The way our politics work, you need some kind of authenticity, some kind of membership, to go after sacred cows. Not just in the Nixon to China or Sista Souljah sense, but in the sense that only members of a "special group" can challenge the orthodoxies of the self-appointed (left-wing) leadership of that group. Blacks can challenge racial quotas in ways whites can't. Women can attack feminism in ways men can't. Jews can criticize Israel, Catholics can challenge the Church, gays can question gay marriage, and so on. Yes, they'll still be attacked for their heresy. But the chief weapon — charges of bigotry — is severely blunted when "one of your own" leads the assault. I don't like it, but it is what it is.

[...]

But most of all, an Hispanic candidate would help win back Republican moderates. Remember how important Colin Powell and the diversity pageant at the 2000 GOP convention were. It was never the intent to win over huge numbers of black voters. Rather, it was to send the message to soccer moms and the like that it wasn't "racist" to vote for the GOP. An Hispanic candidate could have the same effect. The trick, however, is for the Hispanic to be a conservative who sells conservatism to Hispanics and others, not a Hispanic who tries to convince conservatives that La Raza is basically right and that Republicans need to get over their alleged racism.

This is the general attitude of the GOP, that no changes are needed in their platform or approach, and that all they need to do is have a person of color pitch their policies, and the votes will come flooding in. It's an insult to people's intelligence, and a rather amusing avoidance of responsibility. Minorities don't vote Republican, but the party of personal responsibility thinks it's all someone else's fault. 

At any rate, panicking about the possibility that immigration could end the "white male power structure" wouldn't sound any more appealing coming from the mouth of a Latino conservative any more than it does coming from Bill O'Reilly. But aside from that, this has been tried before. Why would an "Hispanic Ward Connerly" do "wonders" for the GOP? Because the first one has become such a popular figure, particularly among black folks? Because minorities are so dumb they don't consider how policies affect them?


-- A. Serwer

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