If Republicans Want Young Voters, Maybe They Should Just Stop Being Bigots
The Republicans want me to vote for them. The GOP hasn’t talked to me yet personally, but a couple weeks ago they released a long report all about their well-documented failure to attract young people to their “brand” (Obama had a 5 million–voter edge among Americans under 30) and possible ways to solve that problem. I’m likely one of the voters they want to persuade—I’m young, I don’t particularly like the Democrats, and I didn’t vote for Obama last year. I agree to some extent with a lot of stuff Republicans say they’re in favor of, like limited government, letting state and local governments make their own laws, and a simpler tax system. If a Republican candidate for president was, say, opposed to the war on drugs and government surveillance programs, and in favor of closing prisons, I wouldn’t dismiss him out of hand, as I think a bunch of my liberal friends would.
The report documenting what the GOP can do to attract young voters, titled “Grand Old Party of a Brand New Generation,” lists several ways that Republicans can reach out to voters. “Capture the brand attributes of intelligence, hard work, and responsibility” is one, “Focus on the economic issues that affect young people today,” is another; there’s also a lot in there about how the party needs to be better with technology and social media. Then there’s this:
“On the ‘open-minded’ issue, yes, we will face serious difficulty so long as the issue of gay marriage remains on the table. In the short term, the party ought to promote the diversity of thought within its ranks and make clear that we welcome healthy debate on the policy topic at hand. We should also strongly oppose the use of anti-gay rhetoric.”
I Partied with Young Republicans at CPAC
The Conservative Political Action Conference is an annual event where prominent right-wingers get together and plot ways to start new wars and keep your wieners out of other dudes’ buttholes. It’s a fantastic time, especially during the after-hours because there is often free booze and all the Republicans are looking to let loose.
This year’s CPAC was at the Gaylord, which is a Convention Center that sits right on the Potomac River in Maryland and has a hotel and restaurants and a park inside of it. The Gaylord is a strange place. It is kind of like Disneyland or one of those fake model neighborhoods that are built for nuclear test sites.
Hanging out at CPAC for the past three days made me realize the GOP is in a weird place right now with a bunch of different factions going at each other’s throats. I’m not so into the old school Willie Horton dog whistling side or the hyper religious Bible thumpers. I do, however, find the Libertarian movement that is happening among the younger Republicans pretty compelling, if only because they are into legalizing dope. Considering that, I figured they were the best crowd to hang with on a night out. So on Friday—after a long day of hearing about God, guns, and gays—I followed a few of the cool young liberty dudes into this big ass dancehall inside the convention center.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the spot was that the people had shit allover their faces. It was pretty peculiar, but at least it wasn’t blackface. I stopped this guy to figure out what the hell was going on. But he was pretty short on words because he was playing like a zombie, which is mad annoying when you are trying to ask a question. Then he started waving his weird black clicker thing in my face. I guess it’s some kind of speed networking device. He wanted his thing to touch mine, but I didn’t have one. Sorry dude.
These people were jumping up and down in front of a TV screen. You could tell that a lot of couples were hooking up, so I just figured this was some kind of peculiar conservative mating dance.
CPAC’s Blackfacing of Bad Ideas
The Conservative Political Action Conference is the annual king-making and agenda-setting conference for the far right. It was started by American Conservative Union in 1973, with Ronald Regan as one of its first speakers. This year, it takes place at Gaylord Convention Center (heh) in Maryland. We sent Wilbert there to see what all the fuss was about.
My first few hours at CPAC felt a little like being at New York Fashion Week—white people everywhere were asking to take my picture. Even though I’m partial to Mars Blackmon’s explanation for everything, I don’t think it was my shoes. But it may have been the color of my skin.
When I told a tall southerner wearing a pinstripe suit and a wide novelty tie who asked to take my picture this morning, that I wasn’t at CPAC because I loved fracking, free markets, and Jesus and that I was there to report for a magazine, the gentleman looked a little disappointed. He stuck out his bottom lip and then off he went, looking for the next one I guess, which is a pretty tough bid considering most of the blacks at Gaylord Convention Center this week are working as valet parkers. Despite the talk of creating a “bigger tent” for conservativism after Obama whooped the GOP’s collective ass in the last presidential election, I haven’t seen a many black folks actually running around the conference. But can you blame my brothers? Who wants hear that their vote was bought by Obama due to their race-based laziness? Black dudes should, however, come to CPAC for the white women. It’s probably got something to do with the conservative red-meat diet, cause these girls have way more junk in the trunk than your average kale-chomping liberal.
Despite the absence of blacks in the audience, I’ve already seen a ton of brothers on the main stage. Clearly, even though the movement is fairly monochromatic, conservatives want to highlight their diversity and reassure everyone (and maybe themselves) that they aren’t racist—which is probably why everyone and his momma wants a photo op with me. In the first couple hours of the conference, they had a black dude say the pledge of allegiance and Allen West was the first prominent politician to give a speech.
In this episode of Foreign Correspondents, Hong Kong State Radio reporter Ben Leung heads to the Conservative Political Action Conference convention in Denver to see what’s what. China has a one-party system, so he’s always been bewildered by the pageantry of our elections. Watch as he attempts to wrap his head around one of America’s silliest, and most important, traditions.