African-American Outreach 101 for the GOP: In the Aftermath of Rand Paul’s Visit to Howard

Dear GOP,

Since your current strategies targeting minorities aren’t working, as a young African-American male, I’d like to offer some advice. If you want to court black people here are my humble recommendations.

Stop mentioning Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves and all the various other accomplishments of the pre-1968 Republican Party. No African American is voting based on Abraham Lincoln “freeing the slaves” in 1862. Most educated people are familiar with the “The Southern Strategy” and the party’s changing ideals. Those who don’t know about “The Southern Strategy” probably don’t care what Abraham Lincoln did way back when. It hasn’t proved to be a winning talking point and it never will.

Stop being anti-government. Instead, be specific about what the government’s role should be. Present a positive argument for what the government should do and be good at. These arguments should create a clear narrative about what the government’s role should be and champion the idea of its ability to be effective in those areas.

Move away from addressing social issues, especially same sex marriage and abortion, and focus more on family values. Same sex marriage and abortion arguments are complex issues which, regardless of where a person falls on the spectrum of belief, rarely lead to people changing their stance. Instead, the party should focus on the general idea of family values which historically is a bedrock for stability in the African-American community.  Overall, building strong families is a universally accepted idea. Regardless of race or religion, this topic is something that can unite and draw more people of color to the party.

Lastly, purge racism from you party. By and large, black people have rejected the ‘we’re not racist and liberals are the real racists‘ narrative. Instead of running away from the fringe racist elements of your party, both perceived and real, acknowledge them and vow to rid those long standing elements and ideas from your party. To deny that they exist is an insult to black intelligence.

Overall, the GOP does not have to change their core principles to attract a more diverse base, but they must evolve as party and package their message differently to appeal to the demographics they are trying to reach.

The old adage “it’s not what you say sometimes, it’s how you say it”, readily applies to the GOP’s messaging. Selling the GOP doesn’t have to be difficult if the messages are packaged in more effective ways.

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