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Boehner’s remarks about black and Latino voters serve to disenfranchise voters of color

LatinaLista — With the GOP Convention due to begin tonight just as Hurricane Isaac nears the storm-weary city of New Orleans, it’s going to be a toss-up for a lot of households as to what to watch on TV.

House Speaker John Boehner speaks before reporters in Tampa.

At one time, I thought there was no way the GOP Convention could rival the natural disaster that threatens so many who are vulnerable and at the mercy of Mother Nature. After all, the convention isn’t the presidential debates where people tuned in more out of curiosity than interest to see the constant in-fighting and attempts to outdo one another in bragging rights.

However, I think I am wrong.

It’s not because of the ongoing party in-fighting over Ron Paul or even the controversy surrounding the 2012 party platform.

Again, it’s out of curiosity to see how GOP leadership address voters of color in light of something House Majority Leader John Boehner said that has cyberspace buzzing.

At the lunch session, Stephanie Kirchgaessner of the Financial Times noted that the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll had Mitt Romney receiving zero percent support from African-American voters.

“Can the Republican Party continue to win general presidential elections if they don’t appeal to more voters than they are today in terms of nonwhite voters,” she asked.

Boehner replied: “You know we’ve never done well with those groups. But think about who this economic downturn has affected the most: blacks, Hispanics, young people. Fifty percent of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. And I think our economic message in this election cycle will help us recruit more of those groups than we would have otherwise.”

He continued: “But I think it’s important for our party, if we’re going to be a national party, we’ve got to reach out. And that means showing up in their neighborhoods. It’s a tall order, but it can be done.”Ms. Kirchgaessner followed up by asking, “Has it happened so far? Is your party doing that right now?”

Boehner responded: “This election is about economics. These groups have been hit the hardest. And they may not show up and vote for our candidate, but I suggest to you that they won’t show up and vote for the president, either.”

While there has been debate in journalistic circles as to exactly what Boehner was implying with his last comment, it’s clear that he thinks voters of color are so wounded and disenchanted that they (we) don’t know the value of the vote and so it will be to the GOP’s advantage.

In light of his remarks, the GOP campaign ads focusing on how Obama has failed Latinos with his policies makes much more sense.

It’s a sad strategy to target a demographic already vulnerable to the downturn of the economy but to disenfranchise them further by planting the suggestion that their votes are ineffective and voting has gotten them nowhere underscores a dismissive attitude towards voters of color that not only ‘dis-values’ the votes of voters of color but the voters themselves.

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  • YaleDikes
    August 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Great point. Or at least it would be, if he said it. Alas, he did not. Check Talking Points — he said no such thing. The Atlantic mischaracterized what he said. The actual quote is this: “This election is about economics… These groups have been hit the hardest. They may not show up and vote for our candidate but I’d suggest to you they won’t show up and vote for the president either”
    I guess hope and change means adding hope to change the meaning of the quote.
    The charge against Boehner is a slanderous canard.

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