Q: How might conservatives win the minority vote from progressives?
A: If progressives continue to pull stunts as phenomenally stupid as this:
ProgressKentucky is a progressive group that first made headlines by announcing its intention to fund a tea party candidate to run against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in the 2014 primary. On Tuesday, the group’s leadership tried to defend itself after a series of tweets this month referencing the ethnicity of McConnell’s wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, and her father’s business ties to China…
In a Feb. 14 Twitter message, Progress says: “This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she’s his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!”The Tweet links to a website run by conspiracy theorist and radio host Jeff Rense, alleging Chao, who was born in Taiwan, discriminated against American workers during her tenure.
Other messages from Progress’s social networking account about Chao have run for the past several days, saying her “Chinese (money)” is buying state elections. According to campaign finance records, members of Chao’s family donated $80,000 to the Kentucky GOP last year.
If this were a conservative Tea Party group talking about the non-white wife of a Democrat, liberal bloggers’ heads would explode – and rightly so. To make matters worse, a spokesperson for ProgressKentucky blew off potential Asian-American concerns, saying ““It’s not an official statement. It’s a Tweet.” (It was, in fact, many tweets.)
My guess (which I hope is wrong) is that liberals’ initial reaction will be defensive, and worse transgressions by the right will be pointed out. And while they will be right about things not being equal, they will be doing themselves no favors by hanging their hat there. As I noted last November after the elections, a great deal of the GOP’s national electability problems stem from their refusal to police their own in these cases:
I maintain that both racism and sexism exist on all sides of the aisle(s). But at the moment, the GOP has a huge PR and electability issue that is theirs alone. Because even if Republicans are correct in their constant claims that their team has far fewer bigots than their counterparts (a big “if”), they’re still the party that seems to take frat-boy glee in flaunting their own side’s transgressions. It’s as if the desire to be seen as non-PC trumps everything else, including both losing non-white male votes and – in some cases – defending actual racism and sexism out of spite.
The long and hard way for the GOP to become a viable party for minorities is for them to commit to years of policy revival, outreach, and (in the case of their most visible media bad boys) behavior modification. The quick and easy way for them to win minority votes is for liberals to sit on their hands rather than nip stuff like this in the bud.
Update: Wow, that was fast. Literally hours after the story broke nationally, the Kentucky Democratic Party condemned ProgressKentucky, calling their actions “deplorable.” Republican operatives looking to retake the White House in 2016 should take note.