Minority Politics: How Democrats Get it Wrong, and Republicans Don’t Get it

Joel Kotkin

Joel Kotkin is a shrewd commentator on politics and economics, a pragmatist who is disillusioned with Barack Obama but not by any means an ideological conservative. He has the following to say on the ability of the Democratic Party to win the allegiance of minorities while not helping them. But he points out that the Republican Party has thrown needless roadblocks in the way of minority groups who might consider supporting the more conservative party.

Here’s Kotkin’s take:

Minorities, in fact, have done far worse under this administration than virtually any in recent history, including that of the hapless George W. Bush. In 2012, African-American unemployment stands at the highest level in decades; 12 percent of the nation’s population, blacks account for 21 percent of the nation’s jobless. The picture is particularly dire Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where black unemploymentis nearly 20%, and Detroit, where’s it’s over 25 percent.

Latinos, the other major part of the Party’s “downstairs” coalition, have also fared badly under Obama. This is true even among the aspiring working- and middle-class. Overall, the gap in net worth of minority households compared to whites is greater today than in 2005. White households lost 16% in recent years, but African-Americans dropped 53% and Latinos a staggering 66% of their pre-crash wealth.

So how does the Democratic Party, in Chicago and elsewhere, maintain its support among these groups? Needlessly exclusionary Republican policies play a role, scaring off potential minority voters, particularly immigrants and their offspring. Obama also has used his own biography to appeal personally to these groups, most understandably African-Americans, as a way to divert them from his economic shortcomings. And well-timed election-year conversions on key social issues like gay marriage and amnesty for young undocumented immigrants have helped him outmaneuver the hopelessly clueless GOP.

The point is not that the Republicans should pander to minorities in the way they accuse the Democrats of doing. The point is that they should stop doing things that needlessly alienate such voters, and should start doing the hard work of demonstrating – actually demonstrating – how their own political approach might help them.

About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on September 8, 2012, in African Americans, Democratic Party, Latinos, Politics, Republican Party and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Minority Politics: How Democrats Get it Wrong, and Republicans Don’t Get it.

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