The Burning Down the House Strategy may present a new opening for a flagging GOP initiative.
Now it has been an ongoing initiative of the GOP to carve away portions of the Democratic Party’s Base. As an example we can look at the Social Security Privatization Initiative. This initiative was designed as much as anything as an attempt to reduce the loyalty of current and pending social security recipients to Democratic Party. As it was planned, privatization would create future retirees who would become dependent and loyal to the magic of the market place, money managers on Wall Street and their backers in D.C., i.e., the GOP. So the Privatization Initiative was really a three for one: over turn a big part of the new deal compact, hobble the Democratic Party and create a whole new generation GOP voters.
Turning back to the Burning Down the House strategy and its potential side effects. As recently as 2005, then GOP chairman Ken Mehlman initiated various outreach efforts attempting to woo African American community leaders to reconsider their relationship with the Democratic Party.
During these outreach efforts, Mr. Mehlman would note that the “Party of Lincoln” has not always acted like the Party of Lincoln. He would also play up various GOP initiatives such as commitment to family values, improved student test scores, and increased home ownership as issues that the African American Community may find appealing. Historically, when allowed access to the ballot box, there have been periods where the Black vote was split between both parties and that competition for the Black vote now is healthy for the nation.
In remarks before the NAACP in 2005, Mehlman noted that about 90 percent of blacks vote for Democrats in most national elections. And he said Republicans themselves were partly to blame. "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization," Mr. Mehlman told his audience. "I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong." Alluding to the rise of the Republican Party in the South since the civil right movement nearly a half-century ago, Mr. Mehlman said that "if my party benefited from racial polarization in the past, it is the Democratic Party that benefits from it today."
OK, Mr. Mehlman is not telling us anything new. So there are a variety of reasons why African Americans don’t support the GOP at the polls, some of which Mr. Mehlman touches upon. As a matter of fact it is axiomatic that the decision to implement the Southern Strategy to benefit from racial polarization makes voting for the GOP a nonstarter for many, not just African Americans. See, you can’t capture all the old time segregationists in your coalition then expect to bring in African American voters at the same time.
But here is the rub. Underlying this whole issue is, that in the marketplace of ideas, in the political area, competition for YOUR vote is ultimately beneficial (relative term, I know) to you and your demographic group. The theory goes that if there are multiple parties competing for your vote, the more likely that those candidates will be inclined to implement policies that you believe will inure to your benefit.
So what to make of this? The GOP can say they want your vote, but can they offer any incentive to pull the lever for the GOP? Well two convergences are lining up that may give a portion of the African American community a reason to give the GOP another look.
FACTOR ONE – BURN THE DAMN HOUSE DOWN
We’ve learned by studying the Math that Hillary has a statistically improbable chance of catching up to Obama in an above the belt fight. But say Hillary is successful and manages to wrest the nomination from the hands of the candidate that won the most states, won the most votes and won the most pledged delegates. Would she suffer any negatives effects after taking the nomination away from a popular Black Candidate?
From the PPP yesterday, we start to get a picture of the potential effects. Polling Data in
Of course in politics one does not have to fight fair. Winning dirty and winning ugly is still winning, but winning ugly can begat its own negative consequences. HRC polling at 51% with African Americans in
FACTOR TWO – REBRANDING OF THE GOP
Now this Rebranding has not started happening yet on a meaningful scale. But it’s gonna happen one way or another because the GOP brand is a tainted brand and has to be re-tooled in some manner. The key will be the direction the rebranding goes. Conceivably it could go toward a Western - Socially Moderate - Fiscally Responsible - Don’t Fence Me In - brand of Republicanism. Or the alternative is to go the Stay the
That aside, the nomination of John McCain as the GOP standard bearer brings an opportunity to clean out some of the crazies who been calling the shots and serving as the public face of the party. First McCain can distance himself from Bush somewhat (yes I know Irak is still there). But remember he and Bush only have a marriage of convenience. And he has to do this if he is to have a chance of winning. He can sack the remaining Southern Strategy folks from the Party leadership roles, a lot of them are passing way with the passage of time anyway. He can push the Party to a show Public Face that is more socially moderate and less draconian and in the process move the image of the party closer to the center.
Ya, I know it’s hard to turn a battleship. It takes some time. And there are entrenched interests and movement conservatives to deal with. But do you think the party activists will cut McCain some slack, if the alternative is President Hillary? Republicans usually fall in line. There is no reason not to expect the same this year.
So with these factors converging, a Candidate McCain with a reputation of candor with an assist from the Mehlman wing, can present a case to dissatisfied African American voters to give him a second look. And no, he does not have to win the African American Vote, but if Hillary only pulls 51% or 61% or 71% of the vote with some folks defecting and others staying at home, she’s doomed.
We know that saying, promising and doing are different things. But the door is opening a bit here due to an unlikely source, i.e.,……HRC.