By Kira Davis
March 4, 2013
Dear Reince Priebus: I was raised as an agnostic socialist. I became conservative as an adult after I had a unique opportunity to see how the policies I had supported all my life actually worked when applied.
I read the whole Constitution for the first time and I fell in love with this country. I researched and reasoned. I believe our path as a nation has been ordained and blessed by God. The success of American values has drawn freedom-seeking immigrants from across the globe in hopes of finding some measure of personal success.
As I always say, America doesn’t owe anyone an opportunity, America IS the opportunity.
Lately, we have seen that opportunity being maligned and squandered. I’m sure you were no different than me after election night last November. Well, perhaps you didn’t consume anything but scotch and cookies for three weeks, but I’m sure you have your own version of mourning you went through. Also like me, I’m confident you eventually picked yourself up and started asking “What do we do now?”
We’ve had to take a hard look at the reality of how the GOP is perceived in the very communities we are trying to protect. I was encouraged to hear more and more Republicans acknowledging we have an image problem and discussing ideas on how to change that.
Then I turned on the TV and saw you discussing diversity in the GOP with some media talking head. I saw Jeb Bush making the rounds in what looks like a precursor to a 2016 run. I saw Karl Rove pontificating about diversifying the party. In short, I saw a bunch of rich, middle-aged white men talking about how we need to change the perception of the GOP as a party of rich, middle-aged white men.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love older white guys. My Grandpa was an older white guy and I’m not going to lie — I wouldn’t kick Sean Connery out of my bed…even now. What I’m talking about is a paradigm shift; a complete public image makeover.
Mr. Priebus, in 2012 the GOP missed a HUGE opportunity to push out some more “diverse” faces to bring the message of liberty and smaller government to their communities. There is a sizable community of Black Republican/conservative bloggers who highlight that message every day. Many work in their spare time. Can you imagine what they would have been able to do for the GOP if there had even been a tiny amount of party dollars behind them?
We’ve already blown that opportunity but another one presents itself. As we begin to think about 2014 and 2016 we need to continue thinking about how we change our image. Exit polls showed that many minority voters liked Mitt Romney’s message but in the end did not feel comfortable voting for him because they didn’t “trust” him. We need to give them a reason to trust us.
I’m sorry, but throwing a rich white guy in front of a bunch of people who have been taught from kindergarten to distrust rich white guys is not going to cut it. I have a suggestion for a new strategy, and some people will not like it because it involves a few people getting out of the way and/or making room for new faces. Some people will have to decide if their status is more important to them than their country.
Yes, the contrast is that stark. Here’s my plan:
From now on the official party strategy should be to only send minority Republicans to do public events/interviews/appearances. Every picture, every brochure, every interview, every meet and greet, everyTHING the GOP does between now and 2016 should have a non-white face at the forefront.
When the Obama stenographers at MSNBC start spewing lies about who wants sequestration, someone like Marco Rubio should be the media go-to guy sent out to dispute those lies.
When Chris Matthews starts talking about racist code words, someone like Nikki Haley should be who the party officially points to for a response.
Mia Love and Allen West are two powerful voices running upstream of the narrative. Republicans know these people, but non-political Americans generally don’t. Right now, when someone says “Republican” the image is a Karl Rove-type. We need to make “minority” synonymous with “Republican”.
It won’t happen overnight. We will be ridiculed for it…at first. Americans have short attention spans and they love a good comeback story. Re-brand. It worked for Ted Kennedy, and he killed someone! If we started today, 2 years from now we could be a lot closer to a complete re-branding.
Aside from media appearances, we need more support for the plethora of conservative minority bloggers and hosts out there. I understand that you, Mr. Priebus, may not be comfortable wading in to the South side of Chicago to make a case for Republican principles; but there are those of us who are ready and willing.
We’re already there, or we came from there or we go back there often. We know our communities and we are already used to being ridiculed and treated cruelly by those who see us as ‘sellouts’ or ‘Uncle Toms’. We’re not afraid to be called names. We’d love to go and spark debate. We’d be honored to provide a forum where our communities can come and hear the real message of the party of Abolition straight from the horse’s mouth. But we also have families to feed and rent to pay.
Stop investing millions of dollars in professional political consultants who bring you the same results you’ve seen in the last TWO presidential cycles and throw a significantly less amount at bloggers and activists who are ready to persuade, debate and win hearts where it counts the most. Alfonzo Rachel, Chris Arps and the team at MoveOnUp.org, SooperMexican, Project 21, (and of course me, Kira Davis -YouTube personality and dangerously attractive IJReview blogger) are just a few of the legion of minority pundits and bloggers waiting for the chance to fight on a larger battlefield for our values.
We don’t have to touch the message. The message of our party is the same as it’s ever been and ever should be: freedom is the only real way to ensure prosperity. That timeless message will always stay the same.
It’s time we changed the delivery system. Do you and the GOP have the will, Mr.Priebus? It’s hard to tell. I don’t even think you realize you have the soldiers to do it.