Why Republicans Lose in Urban Areas
Fourteen years ago, I was asked to be a keynote speaker at the Richmond County Women's Republican Club annual dinner. I had started my column at the Staten Island Advance the year before, and as an Hispanic who had grown up in Spanish Harlem, many Republicans were surprised that I was a conservative.
It was my first speaking engagement and one I accepted reluctantly, but I felt that it was an opportunity to offer some advice to the Republican Party about winning over the voters in the barrios and the inner city. While my speech brought applause and cheers from the assemblage and politicians present, they didn't take my advice in the subsequent local elections. After the thousand columns I've written since for the New York Sun, Breitbart Bigs (Government, Journalism and Hollywood) and the late Irish Examiner USA newspaper and other conservative blog sites, the GOP still remains tone-deaf.
I am a true city slicker born in Manhattan and in my lifetime a denizen of many less than affluent neighborhoods. Even though I am now a Staten Island homeowner, I live near a notorious housing project that a few years ago sheltered two cop-killers. I know the people who live in the neighborhoods that Republicans ignore because they consider the Democratic strongholds a lost cause. I also know why these districts vote Democrat and despise Republicans. It has nothing to do with race.
I became politically aware as a high schooler enthralled by JFK and the possibility of a Catholic president. The nuns at the school were also hopeful for his presidency. The sad truth is that the media who loved him kept his personal peccadilloes quiet and if they hadn't, he never would have won that close election, involve us in Vietnam or been assassinated. The fourth estate continues its liberal defense of like-minded politicians to this day.
At that GOP dinner and in many later columns, I spoke of growing up in the barrio where Democratic social clubs abounded but a Republican presence was nonexistent. The only Republican at that time who bothered with our issues was Sen. Jacob Javits, whom my mother contacted when my Marine brother ran into difficulty overseas.
I live in one of the few Democrat strongholds on the North Shore of Staten Island, the most conservative borough of New York City. Republicans never campaign here even though the candidates have positions that would appeal to the minorities here. I have suggested that Republicans hold town hall meetings at a local community center operated by a black Baptist Church. They need to listen to the concerns of the people and rather than promise them the moon, treat them with respect.
This past election for City Council had Debi Rose, the incumbent, running against a white lawyer, Mark Macro. I sent him emails suggesting he come to a local festival and make his presence known. He didn't. Naturally he lost even though Ms. Rose has been an ineffective councilwoman who neglects the homeowners and taxpayers in her district. Like all Democrats she knows that it will be those getting government assistance that will keep her in office.
The races in Virginia and New York City could have been won on the issues if only the GOP establishment knew how to spend their billions and hired the right spokespersons. Too many of the elite look down at Democratic voters as ignorant fools incapable of knowing what's good for them. That attitude is a mirror image and just as diametrically wrong as the one held by ideological liberals who want to take control of our lives.
I look at these voters as victims of self-serving demagogues in the political world and the mainstream media. The fact that the Republicans have always been the leader of civil rights and the Democrats have been the party of the KKK, Jim Crow and Bull Conner has been twisted repeatedly by MSNBC anchors.
This subterfuge works and the GOP needs to spread the truth to the low-info voter, but only if they use different spokespersons. We have talented minority conservatives like Alfonzo Rachel, Lloyd Marcus, Deneen Borelli, and Star Parker who deserve recognition because they have lived and survived the same circumstances that still exist in the inner cities and barrios today.
Republicans simply do not know how to market their message and until they get off their high horse and walk among those on the ground, they will lose.