Last week I had a very long conversation with a major political operative about whether there was a role for blacks in the Republican Party, on congressional staffs, on campaign staffs, or the various presidential campaigns.
The simple response is that the Republican Party is racist; they don’t care about blacks; and they don’t think they need the black vote.
But, as me and this operative discussed, it has less to do with race and more to do with the “institutions” of the Republican Party.
The party’s institutions, by nature, tend to do the things they are comfortable and familiar with; and they are no longer comfortable or familiar with the black community.
The Republican National Committee (RNC), to my knowledge, has never had a black finance director, chief of staff, communications director, etc. I rarely, if ever, encountered a black staffer in non-traditional roles within the party.
I am not aware of any black campaign manager for a major office seeker, or executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) or the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
So, the typical argument is that they can’t find any “qualified” blacks (as though they have a plethora of “unqualified” blacks); or they can’t find blacks with the necessary experience. Well, somehow they seem to always be able to find Buffy and Biff for all sorts of jobs within the various party structures; and the reason is very simple—people tend to hire people they know or people that are referred to them by people they respect.
So, these issues have less to do with race and more to do with relationships. Party operatives hire their friends and their friend’s friends Unless you have party leaders who are totally committed to the issue of diversity and willing to radically alter the “institutions” of the Republican Party; there will never be an appreciable level of black participation in the party.
My decades of experience within this party lead me to conclude that the party doesn’t have the bandwidth necessary to change the face of the party; any change in regards to the issue of diversity will have to be forced upon the party from the outside.
This might even include losing yet another presidential election.
I agree with many Republicans that something extraordinary happened last week. Marco Rubio, a Cuban, was endorsed by Nicky Haley, governor of South Carolina of Indian descent and Tim Scott, a U.S. Senator from South Carolina and black.
The Democratic Party can only dream of having this type of diversity. But where are the black staffers for Rubio’s campaign? Where are the blacks on Haley’s staff? Tim Scott has an impeccable record when it comes to diversity on his staff.
But this surface diversity means absolutely nothing unless and until you diversity the very structures at every level of the Republican Party.
The irony of all ironies is that Donald Trump is the only presidential candidate to have any blacks on his staff in any significant positions; blacks that he doesn’t want to be invisible.
Trump is the only candidate to speak about how poorly blacks have fared under Obama or meet with black preachers.
Trump is considered a political disruptor by the establishment; but yet he seems to be the only Republican that sees any value in the black vote. In other words, he seems to be the only candidate that is willing to think outside the box when it comes to the conventional views of the black vote.
Maybe a Trump candidacy is what is needed to disrupt this stagnant party and its very institutions when it comes to the black vote.
Trump can easily get north of 15 percent of the black vote simply by cultivating relations with the black business community. Sadly, this is the one group most ignored by the Republican Party; the one group that is most philosophically in synch with the Republican message is the one group that no one pays attention to.
Could this be part of the reason the establishment is so afraid of a Trump candidacy; that he will radically change the face of the various institutions of the Republican Party?
Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC is an internationally recognized political consulting, government affairs, and PR firm based in Washington, DC. Jackson is an internationally recognized radio talk show host and TV commentator.