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Identity Politics, Nation Needs to Move On

Frederick Douglas
“I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress,” Frederick Douglas

A fellow Virginia conservative is not happy with the GOP and he is telling fellow Republicans all about it. Consider this excerpt from Mr. Carl Tate’s most recent post at the Virginia Black Conservatives blog:

I’ve had elected officials pat me on the back and tell me to wait “my turn” while I watch them groom and promote younger (and whiter) individuals over me.

Be sure to read Mr. Tate’s complete blog. For Republicans, do so with an open mind. While some will argue — presently company included — that he could have made his point in more discreet and more powerful ways, there is a lot there to consider.

Mr. Tate, and many others in our party, are tired of identity politics. His missive a great example of what can happen when our party places too much emphasis on fluff rather than substance. If we are opposed to affirmative action, then why is the Republican Party using affirmative action politics?

I’ve written and spoken at events about this issue for many years. Well received by most, I’ve also seen my fair share of “how dare you” looks and, at times, outright hostile commentary from fellow GOPers. Identity politics is bad politics. This is the lazy way to include people in the Big Tent. These largely public relations-focused tactics are incompatible with the conservative movement and core Republican Party politics.

Obsessing about difference — rather than on the conservative ideas that make this country the greatest country on the planet — is a tool and thought process of the Left. They use it to divide, not unite. Abraham Lincoln would reject it, as would as would other famous Republicans such as Frederick Douglas.

So why do so many local, state, and national leaders insist on using identity politics and policy ideas? After decades of viewing it up close, I think folks are just plain lazy. Buy an ad. Sprinkle some Spanish here and there (for the Spanish-speaking crowd). Make sure the images include Americans from various ethnic backgrounds and pray for the best. For a majority of voters, it does not work.

Does the Virginia Republican Party have a problem with non-traditional Republican voters? I do not think so, but Mr. Tate has a story to tell that new generations of GOP and Democratic leaders could learn from.

The fact remains, however, that the pre-1970s Republican Party had a rich history of inclusiveness because it stuck with a core message. Voter support has waxed and waned in recent decades with non-traditional GOP voters because the GOP experiment with identity politics failed. Time to move on.

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