Black Americans Are Hurting. Here's How the GOP Can Reach Them. | Opinion

To earn votes, you must persuade voters that you will advance their interests, that you share their beliefs or that you care about them. The Republican Party has largely failed in each of those areas in its outreach to black voters—especially the third one.

Black Americans are hurting right now, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Most believe those deaths—two of them caused by police, the other caused by white men acting like police—were unjust. Many believe race factored into the deaths, either through direct motivation or systemic imbalances.

The Republican establishment could use this moment to connect with black voters. It could draw near and say, "We hear and empathize with you. We acknowledge your problems and have some ideas about how to fix them."

Instead, they dismiss us as dividers, or race-baiters, and they tell us that what we experience as black Americans doesn't exist. They tell us that our victims are to blame for their own deaths. They tell us our protests, even the peaceful ones, are inappropriate.

They wait until a black person is killed by police to highlight black-on-black crime, raising the issue only as a weapon to silence racial grievances. They do not care about the problem of violent crime in black communities when it cannot be used as a shield to defend against the pressure to directly address racial issues.

They have decided black people's problems are their own fault. They have decided that since we don't give them our votes in response to their feeble outreach efforts, we should just reap what we have sown in Democratic-run communities. They stopped competing for the ability to affect change in the places that need it most.

The Republican Party, in general, lacks basic compassion and empathy for black people. They've accepted their single-digit share of the black vote, and see no reason to change in order to gain more. They have decided to let "racial inequality" and "social justice" become profane words in conservative circles.

Most black people—even those who believe in conservative values—believe racism is still a problem in America. The Republican Party can deal with that proactively and transparently, or it can continue reacting defensively and antagonistically toward any suggestion that many of America's systems and institutions are not racially equitable. It can label anyone who brings up racism as a liberal.

Caring is the entry point to political persuasion. If you can't properly care about people, you'll never convince them to support you. Republicans should show up at protests, show up at memorials, show up places they're not expected to be. Show up where people don't like you, and do the work to change their minds. Invest time and presence where the pain and need is in the black community.

When tragedies occur in black communities, Black Lives Matter shows up with their ideas. Antifa shows up with their chaos. Republicans also need to show up, unless they want the conversation about how to proceed to happen without any conservative influence—thus leaving entire communities of black voters believing that conservatism is for someone else, not them.

President Trump about to board Marine One
President Trump about to board Marine One Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Republican Party should seek a deep understanding of the problems in black communities on a local level, then use its resources to equip, train, support and promote conservative candidates from these places who are truly invested in solving these problems. These community leaders can use their influence to show people how conservative principles, truly and equally applied, solve their problems.

Start competing in these communities that have long since been written off as Democratic strongholds, and work to gain the power to enact true, ground-up change with policies that empower people to achieve more and to live better, freer lives. Win seats on school boards and city councils and give conservatism a voice where it currently has none.

If you want black people to vote for Republican presidents, you first need to show them that the government closest to them—which has the most influence over their quality of life—will work better for them if Republicans are in charge.

This is the hard way. This is the long way. This will not happen by November 2020. This way—and this may be the biggest obstacle—requires the Republican Party to stop being the party best known among black people for denying the existence of racial inequality. The good news is, there are people on the ground in these communities ready to do the work if they're equipped with the resources to do so.

The Republican Party believes it can win elections without winning many black voters and, indeed, it has done so in the past. But the recent tragedies present an opportunity for the GOP to choose a different path. Perhaps one day, the party will be motivated to take it.

Aaron Colen is a staff writer at TheBlaze.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.