Monday, August 3, 2015
By Raynard Jackson
A few weeks ago I wrote a column titled, “Republican Presidential Candidates Lack Diversity.” I called out Republican presidential campaigns for not having any Blacks on staff or as consultants. I received several phone calls from various campaigns with them expressing their “disappointment” in my piece; they didn’t deny the facts of my piece, just the fact that I criticized Republicans.
These campaigns and the party, as usual, are missing the point. While diversity within a presidential campaign is extremely important; the optics are even more important for 2016. In the immortal words of my good friend John Travolta from the movie Swordfish, “What the eyes see, and the ears hear; the mind believes.” I have dubbed this the eyes, ear, and mind principle (E.E.M.).
Can you name me one Black who has been publically validated by the leaders of the Republican Party? I am speaking in terms of a Black who is known and respected both in the Black community, as well as the White community; a Black who is well regarded in both communities simultaneous.
Have you seen one Black get out of the car or off the plane with any of our candidates for president? Have you ever seen one Black with House Speaker John Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?
Since Blacks are not seen in the party, nor heard in the party; it is understandable why in the mind of Blacks we believe there is no place in the Republican Party for us; the E.E.M. principle in effect.
Issues of race will be one of the top three issues going into next year’s elections and the Republican Party is totally unprepared to deal with anything with a racial component. Look no further than the anemic response our presidential candidates have given to issues like Ferguson, Baltimore, or South Carolina. How do you expect these campaigns to adequately respond to these issues when they have all White staffs, consultants, and pollsters?
The National Urban League’s annual convention last week provided a great teachable moment for Republicans; but I doubt very seriously that they will learn from it.
I have been telling Republicans for years that they should never attend or speak to any of the major Black organizations unless they are given certain concessions. I am speaking about groups like the National Urban League, the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), etc.
These Black groups are all very liberal in their orientation and rarely if ever have Black Republicans on any panels during their conventions. So why would any Republican go there and give a speech, only to have the group’s members constantly criticize the Republican messages; if there are no Black Republicans on various panels to push back on this criticism then the speech is a total waste of time?
JEB Bush spoke at the Urban League’s conference last week only have Hillary Clinton thoroughly eviscerate Bush and Republicans and we had no one to refute Hillary’s bogus speech. Bush’s speech said absolutely nothing of relevance to the audience or the Black community; and I can guarantee you that the speech was written by a white staffer with no input from any Blacks that understand communications and the Black community. So Bush got what he deserved.
Republicans go to these groups simply out of fear. They are terrified of being called a racist, so they go to these groups with hat in hand because they have no Blacks around them who are willing to take a hard line with these liberal Black groups. If these groups refuse to have Black Republicans participate in their conferences, why would party leaders agree to speak?
The Black community is not hearing anything of any relevance to them from these presidential candidates specifically or the party in general.
If Blacks don’t see anything, or hear anything of relevance to us; then the mind will tell us Republicans don’t give a damn about our vote.
The Republican Party has a brand problem within the Black community and until they decide to deal with the eyes, ears, and mind they will never make any gains in our community.
Rand Paul deserves some credit for attempting to engage with the Black community, but his execution was horrible at best; incompetent at worst.
Isn’t it amazing that Republicans have done absolutely nothing to build relationships with the Black business community?
Not only are they an invaluable source for policy input; but they are also a great source for potential political contributions.
Even with the upcoming presidential debate on Thursday with FOX News, you have all white journalists asking the questions. Why would FOX not at least have Kelly Wright (my fellow Oral Roberts alum) or Juan Williams as one of the questioners since they both work for FOX?
To my knowledge, I don’t think either party has ever had a journalist from a Black newspaper ever participate in a presidential debate.
Why? There are over 200 Black newspapers in the U.S. I hope the Republican Party will mandate a least one journalist from a Black newspaper be chosen to participate during one of the many upcoming Republican debates.
I will continue to write about these issues of diversity until the party finally begins to look like America. But too often Republicans try to do the right thing; but they do it the wrong way.
Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC is an internationally recognized political consulting, government affairs, and PR firm based in Washington, DC. Jackson is an internationally recognized radio talk show host and TV commentator. He has coined the phrase “straticist.” As a straticist, he has merged strategic planning with public relations. Visit is website at: www.raynardjackson.com.