RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has spoken quite a bit lately about expanding his party’s base beyond its older white foundation, but minority outreach doesn’t seem to come naturally to Republicans. McKay Coppins published this interesting report this morning.
As the Republican Party gears up to launch a concerted, well-funded outreach effort aimed at attracting elusive minority voters, it’s not just battling dismal poll numbers and tough demographic trends – it’s working to overcome its own overwhelming whiteness.
There is not a single racial minority among the 20 most senior officials who run the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee – the three wings of the GOP apparatus charged with promoting candidates and winning elections. And a range of former Republican staffers told BuzzFeed that this lack of diversity has paralyzed the party’s ability to connect with minority communities.
Now, if the story ended there, it would still be interesting. After all, a major political party run entirely by white people is necessarily going to struggle when it comes to reaching out to those who don’t look exactly like they do.
But this is not just a matter of diversity; it’s also a story about hostility. A former RNC field staffer, who is Hispanic, told Coppins there was “a culture of cynicism among his predominantly white colleagues when it came to minority outreach.”
In one especially stunning anecdote, whenever RNC staffers were told about a new Republican outreach effort to minority voters, they would pass around a Beanie Baby – which they had dubbed the “pander bear” – and make fun of the “tokenism.”
The former RNC staffer added, “Any kind of racially specific campaign activity was often treated with skepticism by white staffers.”
Priebus seems to think he can help change public perceptions about his party, but maybe he should start with changing perceptions at his own RNC headquarters?