Saturday, September 17, 2011

What's Wrong With The GOP?

Pajamas Media asks an interesting question. They didn't pose it quite the way I did in the title, but there's a subtle condescension, however unintended, that informs the asking and their discussion of the issue.They never got around to answering it themselves, but it struck me as a topic worth exploring.

The gist of the piece is that the GOP has an image problem that has so confounded the current GOP leadership that they've given up the idea of getting any black votes. While the current GOP leadership hasn't released a statement to that effect, Timothy Johnson, of the Frederick Douglas Foundation provides anecdotal evidence that some GOP candidates have given up on black voters. So that idea is out there. Colonel West says it's a problem with the quality of the GOP's outreach to blacks, that the democrat party has then sequestered to the democrat plantation. Others say it's simply a matter of messaging.

Seems to me that we have some people waiting, or perhaps hoping for, in order to absolve themselves of the responsibility of having to deal with the problem, on the 21st century Moses (or Harriet Tubman in the form of Colonel Allen West) to lead the black community off the democrat plantation and out of socio-economic bondage. While an ennobling sentiment, I believe it misses the mark, by a wide margin. You gonna leave everybody else there or can they be free too?

See, it bothers me that people want to make it an ethnocentric issue when that bondage has entrapped an entire underclass in a subsistence existence of government largess, a state of permanent lack - of challenge, ambition, intellectual curiosity, economic opportunity, and hope. Just look at how America reacted to mere campaign slogans consisting of the words hope and change in 2008. To focus on allegedly intractable issues relating to one minority group plays right into the hands of race-baiters and grievance industry hacks on the left, and the reinforces the soft bigotry of low expectations on the right.

I was in Walmart last night. I don't go to Walmart as a rule, but I'm traveling on business, away from home and I needed a few things since I extended my trip by a week. There are websites dedicated to "Walmart people", but my observations are not those. I saw all kinds of people and many ethnicities -  families, solo adults accompanied by children, morbidly obese people using oxygen on scooters, including a couple shopping together, young couples holding hands. Heard all kinds of conversations about brands, flavors, current events, movie titles and two distinct languages I couldn't understand. I found myself making judgments about the people around me, generalizations in fact, not unlike this Pajamas Media piece and its conventional wisdom. I was thinking in terms of what I thought I knew about the people around me, when I'm really 600 miles from home and know as much as about these people in Walmart as the GOP does about the people it wants to represent. The reality is that ALL THESE are the people the GOP should represent.

The real challenge in this most political of all seasons is to not see people just as demographics. To not propound ideas and notions which confine voters to barrios and backwoods, city and country, but to see them as Americans, imbued with all the distinctiveness and individualism that term confers. Once the GOP recognizes this, recovers from its embrace of the soft bigotry of low expectations, and speaks to Americans of every race as joint heirs to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it won't need Moses or Harriet Tubman. And the democrat plantation will be a distant memory.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, especially when there are so many yearning to be free....