Monday, August 10, 2015

The Koch Challenge by Raynard Jackson

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By Raynard Jackson
Columnist
Last week, to my amazement, I read an article about Charles Koch in The Washington Post newspaper.  The amazing part was that it was a positive article about Koch. 

For those who don’t live in DC, The Washington Post is one of the most liberal newspapers in the country and rarely has anything positive to say about Republicans, especially those who are conservative or libertarian.

The Koch brothers get a bad rap in the media, especially when it comes to the Black community.  I tend to agree with them on many of the issues they are tackling:  shrinking the size of the government, reducing the federal deficit, criminal justice reform, school choice, lower taxes, etc.

When it comes to their interactions with the Black community, like most conservatives, they are trying to do the right thing; but are doing it the wrong way.

During their annual donor’s conference last week in Dana Point, California, Koch explained why his focus is now on the “disenfranchised” and “lower class.”  According to The Washington Post, Koch invoked the names of civil rights icons like Frederick Douglas and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Koch stated, “Look at the American revolution, the anti-slavery movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement.  All of these struck a moral chord with the American people.  They all sought to overcome an injustice.  And we, too, are seeking to right injustices that are holding our country back.”

The article reports that helping the lower class was echoed throughout the donor’s conference and they have plans to spend upwards of $ 800 million by the end of 2016 on issue advocacy, higher-education grants and political activity.

This is all well and good, but if they want to see positive results; they first must do a “forensic assessment” of their targeted audience—in this case the Black community.

It doesn’t appear to me that they have any relevant Blacks around them on the political side of the house who can help them properly navigate within the Black community.

For example, when you say “conservative” to a Black audience, we hear Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms.  When you say “libertarian” we think of someone who supports Jim Crow and segregation.  Former U.S. senator and linguist S.I. Hayakawa said, “Meanings are in people, not in words.”

Because of the liberal media, the Koch brothers, conservatism, and libertarianism all have a bad name in the Black community; and before you can begin to discuss the merits of their issues, the brand must be repaired.

As a student at Oral Roberts University, I had the fortune of working for Oral; and one of the things he would always say was, “Go into every man’s world and meet them at the point of their need.” 

Too often, conservatives go into the Black community and tell us what they think is important to us, as opposed to asking us to tell them what is important to us.

A case in point is criminal justice reform.  Conservatives have the crazy notion that this issue is the gateway into the Black community.  In reality this is nowhere near the top of the priority list within the Black community. 

The top three issues within the Black community are:  small business/entrepreneurship, education/school choice, and values/morals.  The logic is very simple.

Small business is the economic engine of our country; always has been and always will be.  Fortune 500 companies are steadily laying off workers, whereas entrepreneurs are creating all of the new jobs and doing all of the new hiring.

These small businesses need a labor pool that has basic skill sets like reading, writing, and arithmetic to fill various job openings. 

Promoting “traditional values” within the Black community is part of our historical heritage going all the way back to Africa.  Liberalism is anathema to the Black community; but liberals have been effective in disguising it to the detriment of the Black community.

I totally agree with what Koch said in the article, “[we need] to be much more effective in articulating their [Koch] message.”  The first thing they must change is their verbiage.

If the Koch brothers are serious about engaging with the Black community, they must have a media strategy to push back on the liberal lies that are being constantly pushed within the Black community.  Conservatives cede too much to liberals in this regard.

The Koch brothers also need to have a strategic media plan for them (Charles and his brother David) to engage directly with the Black media to “demystify” who they are and their agenda.  Again, the liberal media has portrayed them as racist boogeymen to the Black community and they must begin to push back on this narrative.

A lie repeated enough becomes the truth.

Conservatives tend to surround themselves with Blacks they are “comfortable” with versus Blacks who can deliver results.  This is the major reason you don’t have more Blacks in the movement and I am not optimistic that this will change anytime soon.

If the Koch brothers are truly serious about engagement with the Black community, they must redirect their spending to the priorities that are important to Blacks, not the ones that are important to them; and they must begin to think and look outside of the box.  

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 his website at:  www.raynardjackson.com.

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