Mitt Romney spoke in front of the NAACP today. Not surprisingly, he wasn't exactly received with great enthusiasm and was even booed a few times. However, he was received and he also drew some applause at points. Some may think it was a wasted effort. After all, President Obama received 96% of the black vote last time around. But, Mr. Romney was right on. The reason the Democrat party enjoys loyalty among black Americans more than any other voting block by far is not ideological, but the result of a long running marketing campaign that Republicans have for too long, ignored.
It is not true that 96% of African Americans are liberal Progressives at heart. Voting Democrat is not a genetic trait. But decades ago, the Democrat party allied with various black leaders and organizations to form a powerful voting block. This fit fairly well with the general liberal game plan of developing policies and programs aimed at specific groups to garner their favor. Republicans, on the other hand, are supposed to be about the individual, so group centered policies and programs don't really fit their operating model. The block was further solidified by the fact that Republicans seem to have decided that ceding the black vote to Democrats was okay. They could win elections without the black vote. Democrats aggressively recruited black candidates while Republicans did not, until recent years.
The perception that Republicans didn't care about black Americans didn't come about because Republicans didn't offer black Americans enough give-aways. It came about because Republicans largely ignored the black vote altogether. Even free-market capitalist black Americans have been left on their own. This is not an environment that inspires risk taking, vocal support or votes.
I'm not suggesting that Republicans should change their message or come up with their own set of ethnically targeted programs or policies. I mean they need to physically go to black communities and make their pitch. So what if you get some boo's. Mr. Romney did the right thing. He endured them, and stayed on message. ls he going to get the majority of the black vote in November? No, but if he gets 6 or 7% as opposed to 5, that's progress. Even if it were true that only 5% of black voters support limited government and free market economics, that 5% deserves the support of their like-minded brethren, on the local, state and federal level. Carve an hour out of your schedule and give it to them.
America became the most successful country on the face of the Earth because of it's explicit statement that the individual is the center around which everything else revolves. At our best, we are not a country of a bunch of competing ethnic groups, social classes or religions. We are 360+ million individuals, equal in the eyes of the law. That's a message that deserves to be delivered to every corner of the country, and in person. You're not going to win hearts and minds with a slick TV ad or a well placed poster. If you want the votes, you have to show up and ask for them.