Republican Party presidential challengers for the 2016 election are bringing diversity to the table as the new face of the expanding party with a reputation for being a good ol’ white boys’ club, in an attempt to woo minority voters. Election strategists hope to position the party to appeal to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities represented by the voting public. The diversity within the early contenders in the presidential race is a win for the factions within the GOP that have been pushing for a “big tent” approach that makes it clear that anyone is welcome and will be heard and understood. Questions remain as to whether the move toward a more diverse field of candidates will be enough to overcome unpopular Republican Party stances on issues that concern minority voters.
So far the current field of Republican party presidential hopefuls include Louisiana’s Indian-American governor, Bobby Jindal; Hispanic senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, of Florida and Texas, respectively; former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina as the lone woman currently in the running; Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and the third Bush to consider a turn in the White House in the last 26 years and Dr. Ben Carson, a renowned African-American neurosurgeon. Ms. Fiorina emphasize the importance of diversifying the demographics of Republican Party candidates and office holders to resemble that of the voting public. She acknowledges the need for sensitivity in issues concerning minority voters without compromising the party’s fundamental principles. The diverse roster is a tactical move to expand the popular appeal of the Republican Party among minority voters who have stood with the Democrats in the last two presidential elections.
In spite of the expanding diversity among the GOPs front running spokespeople, questions remain as to whether it will be enough to overcome the perception of discrimination and woo Democratic sympathizers to the Republican ticket in the 2016 elections. The Republican Party has garnered the reputation of insensitivity to race and cultural concerns through stances on issues that seem to affect the non-white population in disproportionate numbers while failing to adequately address immigration and criminal justice reforms. Their actions or lack thereof, have given many the appearance of favoritism that must give way to equal respect and rights across racial lines, if the Republican party expects their foray into diversity to hold enough credibility to win over the minority voters, explains former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president, Benjamin Jealous.
Each of the Republican Party presidential hopefuls holds the power to appeal to a different segment of the minority of population, something that has been an ongoing struggle since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat. From immigration remedies, legalization or citizenship for illegal immigrants, demonstrated ability to influence younger voters as well as minority voters, to having been seen to visit Ferguson, Mo. in the midst of the racial tensions that erupted there following the tragic shooting, to first hand personal experience with racial issues, native Spanish proficiency and an Hispanic wife, the would-be candidates offer the GOP’s best hope at expanding its appeal enough to woo a wide cross-section of the nation’s changing demographics. Although the low and predominately white, male turnout of the 2014 midterm elections casts doubt on the party’s ability to repeat the sweeping victory in 2016, they have poured millions into attracting minority voters and establishing good relations with the communities in previously neglected areas, such as Detroit. Nonetheless, Kirsten Kukowski, Republican Party spokesperson is confident that they have laid a strong foundation for a successful presidential bid in 2016.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
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