As leaders of the GOP continue to reel over the loss of the 2012 presidential election, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) believes he has the solution to restore Republican support among minority voters: Republican Community Organizers.
In an interview with CNN News’ The Brody File, Paul described his interactions with voters during his Senate campaign and time in office. He’d ask:
“What’s the one particular issue that you’re interested in that Republicans need to talk about, and they’d say, no, it’s about relationships…it’s about showing up in our community.”
While the concept of ‘community organizing’ received vast criticism from Republicans during the 2008 presidential election, Paul asserted his belief that strong community organization plays a vital role in policy formation on both sides of the aisle.
“I think the funny thing, or the ironic thing is some Republicans said, 'Oh, the president is just a community organizer.’ Well, being a community organizer is actually important for a politician. It’s being part of a community and I think we need to have Republican Community Organizers basically going into the community or people who are from the community hiring them and saying what is it? Can we go to church, a picnic, a bar-b-que? How do we relate and let people know that we do care about their situation, about making it better?”
Paul went on to explain the importance of personal outreach to minority communities, areas in which Democrats have notoriously dominated in political support.
“I think in some ways we might be able to beat the Democrats hands down because the Democrats, I think, take all of this vote for granted and they’ve left people in rotting schools in the inner cities, full of drugs, full of crime, full of no discipline, really full of no hope.”
Paul’s recommendations reflect the efforts of the Republican National Committee to expand its outreach to minority communities. Immediately following the 2013 CPAC convention, Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the RNC would spend $10 million on community outreach efforts over the upcoming year:
"It will include hundreds of people – paid – across the country, from coast-to-coast, in Hispanic, African American, Asian communities, talking about our party, talking about our brand, talking about what we believe in, going to community events, going to swearing-in ceremonies, being a part of the community on an ongoing basis, paid for by the Republican National Committee, to make the case for our party and our candidates."
Many people remain skeptical of community organizing, believing that community-building efforts are often tied to political agendas; evidence suggests that some organizers intentionally provoke members of the community to feel dissatisfied, in an attempt to make political or monetary gains.
However, as Paul points out, we have reached a critical time in America when the majority of American citizens are experiencing serious injustice and dissatisfaction, from the children attending failing public schools to those affected by the historically high unemployment rate. If Republicans are able to make strong contacts in minority communities by promoting liberty-based policies that could benefit them (i.e. school choice and free-market agendas), we could not only see economic and educational improvement in the inner-cities, but also a return of minority support to the Republican party.