Okay, when I wrote about how the GOP needs to reach out to black voters, this story isn’t what I had in mind.
I’ve explained the reasons why the GOP needs to stop ignoring inner cities. Many black conservatives have lamented the fact that the Republican Party seems to believe that they can continue to win elections over the long term without reaching out to other demographics.
An independent group supporting Representative French Hill (R-AK) in his re-election bid against Democrat Clarke Tucker created a radio ad designed to earn more black support for Hill. But the nature of the ad likely did far more harm than good, and should serve as a lesson to those in the GOP who want to engage with minority communities.
Put simply, this story is an example of messaging gone wrong.
Radio Ad Claims Democrats Will Bring Back Lynchings
This is a real radio ad currently running in Arkansas in support of Republican Congressman French Hill on radio stations targeted to the African American community. I don’t even have words to describe it. pic.twitter.com/vpzt1nGPlc
— (((Ben Tribbett))) (@notlarrysabato) October 18, 2018
The radio ad, which was created by a group called Black Americans for the President’s Agenda, depicts two black women discussing the potential consequences of a Democrat victory in Arkansas. They focus on the Kavanaugh hearing and the lack of due process on the part of progressives.
“If the Democrats can do that to a white justice of the Supreme Court with no evidence, no corroboration, and all of her witnesses including her best friend say it didn’t happen?” one of the women says. “What will happen to our husbands, our fathers, or our sons when a white girl lies on them?”
The other woman responds: “Girl, white Democrats will be lynching black folk again.” She continues, “We can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.”
Then, every black conservative in the United States did a collective facepalm.
The radio ad was shared on Twitter — and unfortunately, it appears that many on both the left and the right were subjected to its asininity. Both candidates condemned the content of the ad. French Hill tweeted: “Some may have heard an appalling ad on the radio. I condemn this outrageous ad in the strongest terms. I do not support that message and there is no place in Arkansas for this nonsense.”
Needless to say, Hill’s opponent jumped on the opportunity to use the ad against him. Tucker tweeted:
“Rep. Hill & his allies will have to live with the kind of campaign they’re running. This radio ad is disgraceful & has no place in our society. We won’t let these shameful tactics distract us from our fight to stand up for the people in #AR02 on the critical issues in our lives.”
Well, that probably didn’t go as expected.
The GOP Can’t Afford To Emulate Joe Biden
Remember in 2012 when Vice President Joe Biden spoke to an audience of black Americans and claimed that Republicans wanted to “Put y’all back in chains?” This radio ad is no better than Biden’s gaffe. The difference?
The media is not going to cover for us like they did with Biden.
The fact that a conservative group decided to reach out to black voters is a positive sign. Lord knows the GOP doesn’t seem to be interested — yet. But creating an ad that claims white Democrats want to bring back lynchings and race verdicts is both silly and offensive. It’s an example of the type of mindless pandering that many blacks resent, with good reason.
Here’s the thing: invoking the Kavanaugh proceedings in relation to blacks was appropriate and an example of excellent persuasion. Why? Because blacks are more likely to be falsely accused of rape — and other crimes, than any other race in America.
A recent University of Michigan study reveals that while black Americans make up about 13% of the population, they “constitute 47% of the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations (as of October 2016), and the great majority of more than 1,800 additional innocent defendants who were framed and convicted of crimes in 15 large-scale police scandals and later clear in ‘group exonerations.”
Given the fact that blacks are falsely accused of crimes more than everyone else, it makes sense that they would have condemned the lack of due process that the left showed in the Kavanaugh fiasco. But this organization went wrong when they decided to engage in the same type of race baiting that we see on the left. Unfortunately, they are not the only conservative entity who have used identity politics in this way.
Race Baiting Is No Longer Effective
There are times when it might be appropriate to bring up racism in politics, but in this day and age, those times are rare. It makes sense to discuss how the Democrats have harmed the black community. Indeed, we should bring up the policies that the left has used to keep black Americans dependent on the state. But the idea that we should claim that they are trying to bring back slavery is absurd.
When blacks hear ads like this, they feel as if their intelligence is being insulted — and rightly so. Blacks are not going to be manipulated with this type of messaging. Instead of being open to the message that is being presented, they will likely brush it off and move on.
We need to speak to the real issues facing the black community — and believe it or not, the majority of black Americans are not afraid of being lynched. Instead of resorting to ridiculous race baiting tactics, the GOP needs to speak to blacks as rational human beings, not slaves on some imaginary plantation. We cannot afford to use tactics that will push black voters further into the arms of the Democrats.