Tuesday was another banner day in the ongoing, if intermittent, shitshow that is the Republican Party’s attempt to reach out to black voters. Buzzfeed‘s Darren Sands is reporting that the GOP commissioned a black outreach website in 2012, spent $14,000 developing it, then scrapped it because they didn’t have any other black outreach activities to go with it.
Along the way, they seem to have alienated activist and consultant Crystal Wright, who goes by the online moniker Conservative Black Chick. Although GOP spokesman Sean Spicer tried to lay the whole thing off on a broader digital strategy, Wright, who developed the proposed site, saved her emails:
On Aug. 1, 2012, Wright contacted the RNC about what to tell (Rep. Allen) West about the site as it became clear the site had fallen out of favor with Spicer and the RNC.
“Here’s what I suggest,” Vallante said in an email to Wright. “The web site is held up because other than the website that you built for the Co-Chairman, there are no other programs or plans to reach black voters at the RNC, and people here are concerned that the website is ‘not enough.’ And if [he] asks who he should call – the answer should be the Chairman’s office. I think being honest is the right way to go, not dance around.”
Spicer also told Sands, who is black, that “You can quote me on this: I think it’s embarrassing that you’re writing this story,” a response that Wright took exception with on Twitter Tuesday afternoon:
The flap hasn’t softened Crystal Wright on the Democrats, however, whom she insists “like blacks poor, stupid and reliant on government.”
Whatever you think of that sentiment, it’s pretty clear that the biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats “like blacks” at all. While Wright has been railing against the GOP’s failure to move beyond its white male base, anyone who’s been paying any attention knows that this has pretty much been the plan all along. When the GOP commissioned its now-infamous “autopsy report” following the 2012 election, just about every minority group got at least lip service about policy changes to make the party more responsive to them.
The exceptions were gay people (who the party would only recommend allowing their members to tolerate) and black people, whom the report determined just needed a little smartening up (emphasis mine):
Establish a presence in African American communities and at black organizations such as the NAACP. We are never going to win over voters who are not asked for their support. Too many African American voters have gotten in the habit of supporting Democrats without hearing anyone in their community making a case to the contrary.
…Engage historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the goal of educating the community on Republican ideals and the Party’s history.
As condescending and simple-minded as the report is to every other group. black voters are the only ones who are portrayed as the ones who have the problem; it’s not the GOP’s failure, it’s the black voters’. Their other big idea is to get in there and edumacate them:
Engage historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the goal of educating the community on Republican ideals and the Party’s history.
Perhaps my favorite bullet point for black voters, though, is this one:
The RNC should work with the RSLC to develop best practices of Republicans who were successfully elected in districts with a high population of African American voters.
As Wright notes, the GOP never really had any intention of asking black people for their votes (especially since it’s so much easier to just outlaw them), but with the Republicans so badly alienating every other group that isn’t white men, a story like this might actually help the party shore up some more of that snowy base. As the Republicans’ recent electoral history shows, it sure can’t hurt them much.