I once said that the Republican Party should join forces with the NAACP.
A marriage between the group whose image is about crime-fighting and a group fighting the effects of crime is a natural one.
That hasn’t happened, and the long-standing divide between the groups clearly affected this year’s election.
I spoke with several top Republican politicos when the national party descended upon Myrtle Beach in 2008 for a GOP primary debate and asked how they would attempt to reach more minorities. Each of them, to a man, gave me a polite, respectful shove off.
They had more important things to think about and would get back to me after their nominee had been chosen.
They never got back to me. They didn’t take my question seriously.
Maybe Tuesday’s results will change their minds.
President Barack Obama did not take my advice after that election cycle either.
Obama should visit the places where he is misunderstood and not well liked, I suggested.
Those places include the parts of West Virginia that send the Grand Strand new residents and annual tourists, places that are full of working class white people who are employed in industries the president’s policies threaten.
Conway is now on that list. It is a place where the Grainger electricity plant, which had been in operation since 1966, has been shuttered because Santee Cooper decided it would be too expensive to refurbish it to meet new environmental regulations.
The Obama administration believes those new rules are necessary to beat back climate change and create a more dynamic, flexible economy for the coming decades.
That is a reasonable policy position, but it is also reasonable for those who are losing jobs because of those regulations – the kinds of jobs their families have relied upon for decades – to be horrified by the change.
The president can point to growing scientific evidence that those changes are necessary and will make us healthier and the economy stronger. The late-hurricane season appearance of Super Storm Sandy helped drive that point home.
But he has to do a better job of listening to the people who are being harmed today in the transition to a cleaner energy future, as well as finding tangible ways to soften the transition’s affects on their families.
He has a lot of work to do on that front, and now that he doesn’t have to worry about getting votes, I hope he will.
The Republican Party has the opposite problem. It had better start worrying about getting votes or it will lose its relevance.
Here is the cold, hard mathematical truth:
A Republican candidate can not win the White House when 90 percent of those who vote for him or her are white.
Ronald Reagan was able to pull that off in the 1980s, but by the end of the 20th century, George W. Bush had to garner the support of 40 percent of Latino voters to win.
The demographic shifts have only become starker since the Bush era. The only question was whether the so-called “demographic bomb” go off this election cycle or in 2016.
It went off Tuesday.
And that brings me back to my suggestion for the Republican Party.
It must start looking for new alliances with groups such as the NAACP and tackle real reform in the criminal justice system and work with Latino groups for sensible immigration reform, among other issues that should be non-partisan.
Republicans don’t have to abandon their core principles to form such partnerships.
They do have to abandon the over-heated rhetoric that disregards the humanity of a wide swath of Latinos and paints all black people as welfare queens and handout kings.
They can choose to these points again as they did four years ago.
But that would be choosing national political irrelevance.