The GOP’s $10 million problem with Latinos isn’t messaging — it’s the message

LatinaLista — When Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus first announced that his party would be devoting $10 million to outreach to minority, women and young voters as a result of the findings from their internal analysis GOP Growth & Opportunity Project, my knee-jerk reaction was that they were better off saving their money.

Reince Priebus in January 2011, after winning election as Republican National Committee chairman (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Reince Priebus in January 2011, after winning election as Republican National Committee chairman (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

As the day has worn on and Priebus has further expanded on his million-dollar announcement and news media outlets have reported on conservatives’ reactions to the report, I reluctantly stand by my first reaction. I say reluctantly because like the title of the report, I do believe the GOP has growth and opportunity potential.

They just don’t have the kind of substance nor internal support that’s going to make their outreach a success.

For example, though Priebus honestly shared that focus groups thought the GOP was a party of “old men”, “narrow-minded” and “out-of-touch” and included in the report the recommendation:

…among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all

it wasn’t long before conservatives wailed about that part of the report and Preibus was forced to ‘clarify’ that he wasn’t taking a position on immigration legislation just that something would have to be done.

Yet, that’s the crux of the GOP $10 million problem.

Doing outreach for the sake of outreach doesn’t mean a thing. It’s not about messaging, as the GOP report highlights. It’s about substance.

It’s puzzling that the GOP would conduct such an in-depth report as to why they are doing badly at the polls in presidential elections and come away with the notion that it’s only their messaging that’s wrong.

Messaging is created from the substance of their stand on the issues — immigration reform, Voter ID, Obamacare, border security, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, reproductive rights, etc.

The idea that they can parachute into minority communities and shake hands while explaining why affordable health insurance shouldn’t be for everyone or have their doorknock answered by a woman, who believes she is the only one who has a right to say what she does with her body, and make a case against birth control or abortion defies logic.

It’s not the messaging, it’s the message.

Until the GOP understands that message — that their stand on the issues needs to reflect the reality in people’s lives — they’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes and watch as their party continues to shrink and be the butt of insults and SNL skits.

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