Reaching Out (Guest Voice)

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Reaching Out
by Michael Reagan

Forget Republican comebacks in 2014 or 2016.

Unless it gets its head and its heart straight, the party might never win the popular vote or the White House again.

The GOP today is not my father’s party.

And until the hierarchy of the GOP stops talking about how great Ronald Reagan was and starts embracing what he really stood for, the party of conservatism is destined for the ash heap of history.

Ronald Reagan was somebody who believed in inclusion, not exclusion. He found a way to reach out to all voting groups, which is why he was the last Republican presidential candidate to win the Hispanic vote.

The GOP in 2012 reminds me of the state of disarray it was in during the mid-1960s.

It was so bad for Republicans in California then that they held a special convention and invited the state’s Democratic Speaker of the Assembly, Jesse Unruh, to come and tell them what was wrong with them.

Unruh came and was blunt: The GOP had no vision and no message for voters, because they didn’t know who they were or what they stood for.

Those pre-Ronald Reagan Republicans got the message. They left that convention, turned their fortunes around, and ended up with Ronald Reagan in the governor’s chair.

Today’s national GOP needs the same kind of turnaround, and the process starts with fixing the party’s inclusion problem with Hispanic, black and Asian voters.

Last week I spoke to a room of 400 conservatives. The only blacks in the room were serving us breakfast. There were only a couple Hispanics — in Florida.

That’s not inclusive. Republicans have got to find a way to reach out to these communities.

I told those conservatives in Florida a story about a young man who as a child came to the United States illegally with his parents in the early 1980s.

He became an American citizen in 1986 when my father signed into law the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which granted amnesty to 3 million illegal residents and made them citizens.

When he turned 18, to thank the United Stares for allowing him to become a citizen, he joined the Navy to serve his new country.

When the USS Ronald Reagan was home porting in San Diego, he volunteered to serve on the ship named after the president who allowed him to become a citizen. Now he mentors 275 sailors on that aircraft carrier and is working on his master’s degree.

There are a thousand stories like that that nobody wants to tell when Republicans talk about immigration.

The GOP has got to find a message of inclusion instead of “Get the hell out of my country.” That’s what Hispanics and other immigrants hear from the Republican Party — “Get out.”

We have to attract immigrants to the GOP, not repel them. We have to do it with more than words every two or four years. And we can’t do what Mitt Romney did.

He came to California, held a fundraiser, grabbed his money and left. He did nothing to get out the vote or reach out to the Hispanic community.

Romney wasn’t going to carry California. But we lost three good incumbents in close congressional races in the state on Nov. 6 — Mary Bono Mack, Dan Lundgren and Brian Bilbray.

Why did we lose those seats? Because only 29 percent of registered voters in California are Republican. And why is that? Because the GOP lacks a vision. Because it lacks a message.

If the GOP is to survive and get this country back on track, it has to regain its Reaganesque vision and make its message more caring and welcoming to immigrants.

The Republican Party has to reach out to the Hispanic, black, Asian and other communities and become involved with them — and do it every day from now on.

Until that happens, the GOP is going to have lots more Thanksgivings with less and less to give thanks for.

Copyright ©2012 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to [email protected] Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

LEGAL NOTICE ON CARTOON: This copyrighted cartoon is licensed to run on TMV. Reproduction elsewhere without licensing is strictly prohibited. See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license this cartoon for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

Author: CAGLE CARTOONS

13 Comments

  1. Last week I spoke to a room of 400 conservatives. The only blacks in the room were serving us breakfast. There were only a couple Hispanics — in Florida.

    That’s not inclusive. Republicans have got to find a way to reach out to these communities.

    And once again, a Republican misses the mark by a country mile.

    The reason the Democrats are beating the Republicans with minorities is not because they’re doing a better job of “reaching out” TO these communities, but rather because they are reaching out FROM these communities.

    The GOP has been sitting on the outside, trying to figure out how to sell themselves to Black and Latino voters, while the up and coming Democratic leaders have BEEN Black and Latino voters.

  2. cjjack, Isn’t the first step of running for office within a party, being a member of the party?

    BTW, there are 2 Latino Governors (Susana Martinez is the first Latina Governor in US history) that are Republican, none that are Democrats, 2 Latino Senators that are Republican, 1 that is Democrat, and 7 Latino house members that are Republican, 17 that are Democrats. I tried to find similar statistics for Black office holders but couldn’t easily locate it.

  3. I would encourage Michael Reagan to also editorialize about clearly unethical behavior in the GOP. Items such as open intolerance, proud suppression of voter rights, continued demonization based on “bedroom issues”, pledges to entities contrary to their oaths of office, and suppression of scientific facts and data at the behest of their supporting corporations.

    It’s not just “reaching out”, it’s about not being a scumbag.

  4. Wow, try to be nice and they still jump on you. Sorry, MR, Dems are still pissed and have forgotten how they used to wish that Reps were more inclusive. I guess they feel you are lying.
    Best chance is to actually walk the walk.

  5. dduck: you and I agree on something! Well done! The Republican Party could use a different type of language when discussing such issues (it is not “reach out to” so much as “include”). Republican leaders must tell their constituents the truth. The truth that they have not spoken is that pluralistic government means that those governing must accept that all of the people governed have a say. Thus all the peoples’ issues must be addressed (even if to tell some that their issues are not going to be dealt with immediately).

    Inclusion does not mean advertising to a particular segment of the population. It also does not (directly) mean recruiting talking heads form such segments. Inclusion means addressing all people as equals, looking at problems facing one segment of the population and telling all the other segments why those problems are everyone’s problems. This message would help both parties (as neither has learned it yet).

  6. zusa1,

    Perhaps I should have been more explicit. Reagan missed the mark by saying the GOP needs to “reach out” to these communities. What needs to happen first is that room full of 400 white conservatives needs to become more diverse.

    The focus has been to find a few politicians who have a Latino last name and hold them up as examples of how the Republican party is inclusive. That’s not going to work if the room those politicians speak to is still filled with nothing but white people. It has to come from the ground up, not from the top down.

    The problem is that the Republican party is all about “top down.”

  7. I feel the GOP has since the election finally realized that they have to change up the message. And its a big change for them. Currently I feel they are only paying lip service because they don’t want to be thrown out of office in the coming years. What they need to do is have an actual shift in perspective about minority groups, and not just try to trick them into voting GOP. Much of the talk I hear from the GOP base and many of their top players basically amounts to thinking minorities are all welfare mooches looking for a handout, and that’s why they vote democrat. When the GOP starts seeing them as actual Americans and they start treating them like such, they will start to get votes. Most of them(pretty much all in fact) have jobs and pay their bills and taxes, just like white folks, and they have the same concerns about their futures, and their childrens, that everyone else in this country does. When the GOP takes that into their hearts and their policies they will no longer see the changing demographics of this nation as a threat to their political future. In fact, many black and latino voters are socially conservative, and this could be a boon for a GOP that treats them as fellow Americans and not some agenda driven voting block looking for handouts.

  8. Yep.

  9. cjjack,
    “Reagan missed the mark by saying the GOP needs to “reach out” to these communities. What needs to happen first is that room full of 400 white conservatives needs to become more diverse.”

    Huh? I don’t know how to make the room more diverse except by force or free will, and kidnapping is illegal. I don’t know how to skip the reaching out step.

    “The focus has been to find a few politicians who have a Latino last name and hold them up as examples of how the Republican party is inclusive.”

    You may not have meant it this way, but this sounds disrespectful to minority republican politicians, as though they are puppets.

  10. Slamfu…well put.

  11. I guess they feel you are lying.

    Heard too much from him in the past to think otherwise, I suppose. Just type in “Michael Reagan on [insert issue of importance to whatever non-white group]” into google. Not tough.

  12. zusa1,

    I don’t know how to make the room more diverse except by force or free will, and kidnapping is illegal. I don’t know how to skip the reaching out step.

    Free will, obviously. What the GOP needs to do is figure out a way to get the voters they will need in the future (the black and brown ones, mostly) to show up in the room as something other than “the help.” For that to happen, the attitude of the party towards these people has to change. Slamfu said it well…they need to stop seeing them as a mysterious voting bloc that needs to be “won” as if it were a prize, but rather to start seeing them as fellow Americans.

    “The focus has been to find a few politicians who have a Latino last name and hold them up as examples of how the Republican party is inclusive.”

    You may not have meant it this way, but this sounds disrespectful to minority republican politicians, as though they are puppets.

    Not as puppets, but I do believe they are being used to a certain extent based upon their ethnicity. Again, go back to that room of conservatives Reagan was talking about. If you’ve got 400 white people, and the only minorities are the servers and one guy on stage who’s a Senator, you’ve not solved the problem. It is a criticism, not of the politicians, but of the party and their attitude towards minorities.

  13. cjjack, I think for a long time, the GOP has focused on winning the election at hand and hasn’t focused on building the party base. They have put little to no effort into connecting with any group considered to be part of the democratic party base because they felt it was pointless. They gave up before they even started. I agree with Slamfu too and hope the GOP doesn’t think all they need is some magic bullet bribe to bring people in. To the GOP’s credit, they do support their minority candidates because they realize it is not easy to stand against the crowd.

Submit a Comment