Wednesday, September 01, 2004

  The GOP's growing rainbow contingent
This year, the Republican National Committee boasts that minorities make up a record 17 percent of the delegates at the New York convention.

Bush's four-year snub of the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus was a calculated move to skirt the civil-rights leadership and make his conservative pro-business pitch to black moderates. Polls consistently show that a sizable percentage of black moderates are pro-life, pro-school prayer, anti-gun control and anti-welfare. Many enthusiastically support school vouchers, three-strikes laws and harsher sentences for crime and drug use. A significant percent oppose gay rights.

During his run for Texas governor (and, later, president), George W. Bush aggressively courted Latino voters, bagging nearly 40 percent of the Latino vote. The GOP took the cue and sharply accelerated the number of black and Latino Republican candidates. In 2002, 20 black and 40 Latino candidates ran as Republicans in national and state elections. They won the lieutenant governorships in Maryland and Ohio. There are Latino Republican caucuses in the Texas and California Legislatures. In Southern California, black Republicans now routinely challenge black Democrats in nearly all state and congressional races.

Democrats will lambaste Republicans for their showcase of African American and Latino delegates at the convention as a kind of minstrel show and a sham. It isn't. America's changing racial realities and political necessity have compelled the Republicans to put their version of the rainbow on display.

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