Scan a crowd of Republicans, and a significant majority of those you see will be white. While in itself this is innocuous, it is also unrepresentative of American demographics.
The 2010 federal Census showed that roughly “36.3 percent of the population currently belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.”
The Grand Old Party will not remain so grand unless more men and women of color are welcomed into it and persuaded that the vision of opportunity, justice, hope and liberty articulated by the party of Lincoln and Reagan is one they should want to share.
For Republicans, the good news is that this seems to be happening, albeit incrementally, at national, state and local levels. For example, in the wake of last month’s election, New York Times reporter Shaila Dawan writes:
As Republicans took control of an unprecedented 69 of 99 statehouse chambers in the midterm elections, they did not rely solely on a bench of older white men. Key races hinged on the strategic recruitment of women and minorities, many of them first-time candidates who are now learning the ropes and joining the pool of prospects for higher office ...
The wins, by candidates carefully chosen to challenge the traditional notion of the Democratic base, bode well for Republicans in future elections. They had a net gain of 59 women in state legislatures; Democrats lost 63 women. Republicans added 10 Latinos; Democrats lost five. Republicans reported 17 newly elected blacks; a comparable figure for Democrats was not available. In 2008, only about 31 percent of women in state legislatures were Republicans; in 2015, that figure will rise by eight percentage points.
Pew Research notes that about 36 percent of Latinos voted Republican; 50 percent of Asian-Americans went Republican, one-percent higher than those who voted Democratic. There are now numerous Latino and Asian-American leaders, including Govs. Niki Haley (SC), Susan Martinez (NM), Brian Sandoval (NV) and Bobby Jindal (LA); Lt. Gov.-elect Evelyn Sanguinetti (IL); and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.
With respect to the black vote, the proportion voting for Democrats remains overwhelming: Nearly nine of ten African-Americans voted Democratic.
The reasons for this are several-fold, and beyond the scope of this piece to articulate. It’s laudable that Republican leaders are making sustained and substantive efforts to reach out to the black electorate (as well as Asian-Pacific- and Hispanic-Americans), but as Orlando Watson, the Republican National Committee’s communications director for black media said last year, “We (Republicans) have to share the message of economic growth and education reform with people and let them know that we do care, we are present, and we try to create opportunity for everyone.”
Still, progress is being made: Black GOP politicos are no longer an anomaly. Boyd Rutherford will become Maryland’s second African-American GOP Lt. Governor (former RNC Chairman Michael Steele was the first). In the U.S. House, congressional Republicans will welcome Will Hurd of Texas, “the first Republican of African-American descent from the state of Texas since Reconstruction,” and Mia Love of Utah. Upon her election, Love exulted, “Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress … not only did we do it; we were the first to do it!”
In the U.S. Senate, Tim Scott of South Carolina will be sworn-in for his first full term. , Sen. Scott is unashamed of his conservatism. After his election, he said, "The lowest common denominator of fear and race-baiting is something that the other party has tried to do, and the voters said 'No.' (On November 4), they rejected this."
Christians of all colors and ethnicities should continue to reject what Sen. Scott decried so forcefully. That way, all image-bearers of God will feel welcome in whatever party they choose.
Rob Schwarzwalder is the Senior Vice-President of the Family Research Council.
Publication date: December 4, 2014