By Clarence V. McKee
The Republican and Democratic conventions gave us a glaring example of America’s racial and political divide!
While the Democrats had a convention that reflected the country’s demographics, the Republicans showcased a convention that could have been a gathering of politicians in Iceland, Sweden, or some other country pretty much devoid of people of color.
A few observations.
“Here we go again! Another Republican Convention and the same old question: “Why so few Blacks… Although there were… Black speakers at the podium . . . when cameras panned the floor, Blacks were harder to find than a needle in a haystack.”
I wrote those words in this space four years ago describing the 2012 Romney convention which had only 47 Black delegates out of 2,286 (2.1 percent).
If you think that was bad, accordingly to an article by Philip Bump in The Washington Post, this year’s convention had only 18 Black delegates out of 2,472 (.7 percent) which was among the lowest numbers in 100 years based on statistics from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Black syndicated columnist Raynard Jackson observed, “This was by far the ‘Whitest’ convention I have ever attended, but the Party seems to care very little about this fact.”
One of the Black delegates, Dr. Ada Fisher from North Carolina, a fellow Newsmax Insider, and member of the Republican National Committee (RNC) said: “. . . the one thing we have not done well is we haven’t gotten our message out.
We aren’t talking about things in a way that people understand what we’re trying to accomplish . . .”
Have the RNC and GOP ever considered that they have the wrong messengers — if any at all?
To illustrate how bad these statistics are and how far they have fallen, when I was Chairman of the District of Columbia Delegation to the 1984 Reagan-Bush convention there were 69 Black delegates out of 2,235 (3.1 percent) which increased to an historic 167 out of 2,509 (6.7 percent) at the 2004 Bush-Cheney convention.
It’s been a freefall ever since.
Such dismal numbers not only are an embarrassment to the GOP, they put Black rank and file Republicans and elected officials on the defensive, having to explain their Party’s apparent lack of political sensitivity and reality.
So what’s the problem?
As I stated a few weeks ago, the GOP’s Growth and Opportunity Report in 2013, was apparently not taken seriously by the GOP establishment.
If minority outreach and results on expanding the Party was an objective, it has been a dismal failure.
Discussing the report, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told the media that the Party did a “lousy job” of marketing itself and boldly stated, “. . . I know everything isn’t going to change in one year. If we don’t start now we’re not going to have any more success in four years, eight years, or 12 years.”
Four years have passed and the Party has obviously failed on delegation diversity. The RNC could have made improving Black and Hispanic representation in state delegations a priority in preparation for the 2016 convention.
It obviously did not.
A key fact from the above article is that only once, in 1968, has the GOP won when the density of Black delegates was under 2 percent!
So what does all of this mean for Donald Trump? Will he fare worse than Romney?
He certainly will if his campaign operates the same way Romney’s campaign did and how the GOP establishment has in the past four years regarding Blacks.
With a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll showing Trump getting 0 percent of Black votes against Clinton in Ohio and Pennsylvania; a Quinnipiac poll putting him with only 1 percent nationally; and, dismal GOP convention statistics and outreach over the past four years, he certainly has his work cut out for him.
I would hope that he and his campaign managers do not want to go down in history as being the only GOP candidate in modern times to get 0 or 1 percent of Black votes. Off course, I am sure some of his advisors will say “so what, as long as we get enough whites and Hispanics to win.”
Contrary to such advice, Trump should realize that, to his benefit, he has already touched upon issues of deep concern to Blacks:
- The plague of urban violence.
- How illegal immigration negatively impacts Black employment.
- And, the need for school choice for parents of children trapped in poor urban schools.
He has also had Blacks in visible and meaningful campaign positions unlike most of his primary opponents.
Hopefully, he can separate himself from the negative image the GOP establishment has managed to create for the Party and get his own message out himself and through Black surrogates, campaign staff, and the Black Press.
If he does, strange things could happen!
As Van Jones, former aide to President Obama and CNN contributor was quoted in a Newsmax.com article in May regarding Trump and Black voters, “If only 70 percent don’t like Donald Trump, that means 30 percent are open to his argument; if he gets half of those, he’s president.”
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. He is a former co-owner of WTVT-TV in Tampa and former president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters.