Hyphenated-Americans for GOP Candidate X

Ever since I first got active in the GOP over 14 years ago, there have been those who question the need to have Republican volunteer clubs or Party advisory committees based on ethnicity.

Well this debate has crept up once again as CRP Chairman, Ron Nehring sent out a request to County Party Chairman to send him recommendations for possible participants for the parties advisory committees. Suffice it to say that some folks took exception to the creation of such groups and communicated as much to the chairman. Below is such a communicaiton:

Dear Chairman Nehring,

I want to state that I am in agreement with the statement of fellow Chairman Tom Hudson in regards to the inappropriateness of having racial and ethnic based advisory committees within any Republican Party organization.

It should be recalled here that we are the party of abolitionism and of civil rights for all Americans. Racial and ethnic balkanization, along the lines of what we see among the Democrats, is a wrong headed departure from our own principles. It is pandering of the worst kind, not just because it is a departure from principle, but because it is politically foolhardy. The American people see political correctness for what it is; they are smarter that what so called political “experts” may think them to be.

In following the example of Theodore Roosevelt, a real Republican President, we do not promote “hyphenated Americanism” in the Sonoma County Republican Party. Therefore, we neither collect such data nor pass it onto other campaigns or organizations.


Michael Erickson, Chairman
Sonoma County Republican Party

Now let me first state that I completely understand the concerns expressed by Mr. Erickson. But I think it is important to note that this has nothing to do with being racially divisive. This is about marketing.

Republicans win in the war of ideas. But we lose in the war of votes in ethnic communities because we fail to understand marketing. When you are trying to sell a product, it does not matter what is important to you or what you see. Rather, you have to appeal the the buyer.

Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonalds- you name it. The world’s most successful marketers understand that it is important to target your message to your audience. They all have different messaging to senior citizens, women, business professionals and yes, even ethnic minorities. Why do they do it? Because it works!

There is a saying, “If you want to sell what Judy buys, you have to see what Judy wants through Judy’s eyes. ” This means that if we want to attract black voters, we have to understand their needs. And while their needs most likely are the same as other Americans, it may be reflected very differently in their experiences. And if we do not take the time to understand those experiences and perspectives, we will not be able to effectively communicate why our values and policies best meet their needs.

You see, we may be right. But it really doesn’t matter if they never hear us.

So far, the GOP hasn’t demonstrated any ability to effectively communicate our message in these communities. Past efforts have amounted to no more than a bunch of token “Hyphenated-American” groups for “GOP Candidate X”. They have had no real input and no real influence in the messaging of these campaigns. So, I can’t say that I hold out much hope for this effort either.

But, if these advisory committees could help by acting as focus groups to help target our message and identify key policies that would resonate in specific communities, there is value in them. Only time will tell if this effort is different. And while I am not holding out any hope that it is, I do believe that such efforts have merit.