A Philosopher's Blog

Republicans & “Minorities”

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 19, 2012
Republican Party (United States)

No longer a white elephant? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Bill O’Reilly pointed out, the majority of black & Hispanic voters supported Obama over Romney in the 2012 election. While O’Reilly presented this a moral failing on the part of blacks and Hispanics (as O’Reilly saw it, they supported Obama because they wanted “stuff”) more practical Republican politicians have taken a different perspective.

To be specific, these politicians are saying that the Republican Party needs to attract these voters and this will require that the party undergo some changes (or at least the appearance of change). This has already led some politicians to say that the party needs to reconsider its stance on immigration so as to win over Hispanic voters. Interestingly, the party had previously professed to have taken a principled stance on this and related issues. However, that was before they lost the election to Obama.

While politicians profess principles and ideologies, these are typically means to the end of being elected rather than actual commitments. That is, politicians profess what they believe will get them elected.

There are, of course, some true believers. However, there are clearly more politicians who are like Romney (who changed his professed views with consistent inconsistency) than like Ron Paul (who is well known for his constancy in belief).

As such, it makes sense that the practical Republicans would begin to change their professed views on the matter of immigration. After all, they believe that doing so will increase their chances of being elected (or re-elected). As might be imagined, it has been pointed out that Hispanics do not care solely about immigration and that merely saying something different about immigration will not be enough to win over voters.

It is also interesting that the main focus is on Hispanics rather than other minorities. However, this is not surprising—Hispanics are a rapidly growing “minority” and even before the Republicans publicly acknowledge the need to get their vote they were a coveted demographic for advertisers. Also, as some might point out, it had been assumed that blacks would support Obama and hence little effort was made to woo black voters. This might, however, change.

There has also been an effort to win over women voters and this began before the election. Romney was able to make inroads against Obama’s lead, but Obama did well with single women, making this a demographic that Republicans will need to win over in future elections.

It is, of course, tempting to criticize politicians for doing this. After all, if O’Reilly can criticize voters for supporting Obama because they want “stuff” it seems very reasonable to criticize politicians for abandoning their professed principles and ideologies simply to get votes. After all, they are not acting on principle—other than the principle that one should do whatever it takes to get elected. After all, when they thought they could win by appealing to white and socially conservative voters, they pandered to them. Now that they have realized that the demographics are not as their narrative told them, they are changing their pandering targets.

In defense of the Republicans who are advocating a change in professed values, it could be argued that they are not merely being cynical and practical politicians. Rather, it could be argued that they are following the principles of democracy and modifying their views in a principled way to match the values of their potential constituents. That is, the Republicans are legitimately undergoing a re-evaluation of their values and assessing them in a principle manner—as opposed to changing their rhetoric to pander to the new demographics so as to get elected.

However, if the Republicans truly change their professed principles on key issues to win over black, Hispanic and women voters, then there is the important question of determining what the party and its members stand for (other than winning elections). Of course, the party could contend that they will still retain their core values while changing what are now the more peripheral values (although these values seemed rather core last time around).

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3 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on November 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    The GOP is perceived as being Grey, Old, and Patriarchal :(

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on November 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      That used to be a winning combination…

    • biomass2 said, on November 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      The pity of that is that it’s not only the loyal opposition that feels that way. This may be a leap, but Mitt Romney was a true representative of the “Grey, Old, and Patriarchal”. I get the feeling that , in their responses to Romney’ simpering post-election “giving gifts” comment, a couple of their most likely candidates for the next presidential election (Jindal, Christie)are leaning toward the same perception. And at least one of the “Grey, Old, and Patriarchal” among them— perpetual presidential candidate Newt Gingrich— seems to feel the same way.
      Opinion: Only a G.O. P would ignore/dismiss/demean an ever-growing segment of the voting population. Only a grey, old,party could be hardened enough in its views to support Romney’s crass 47% speech and his “giving gifts” statement. As Newt has pointed out quite emphatically, in the group Romney attacked are Asians—people Newt refers to as among the hardest working in the country. Even a softer, more reasonable party should be able to climb on board with such a view, a view which still manages to adequately marginalize blacks and Hispanics.

      *as in slow movement


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