In the comments section of an article by a Latina describing the unwillingness by the GOP to connect with Latino voters, I found an interesting take by "Jamie in Peru" on why the GOP seems unable to attract minority voters:
Another aspect is that many Republicans do not KNOW how to care about races or ethnicity because historically Republicans have stood for more broad-based ideology that was deemed faceless and nameless; while Democrats have been the big tent party attempting to address different issues of different people.
Republicans have posited, “it is not about the people, per se, it is about the beliefs. Beliefs for all people willing to accept them.” Democrats challenge this with the response, “a belief which to Republicans seems neutral but to the rest has been overwhelmingly white and male dominant.”
Thus a dilemma. How can one blame a party for not caring about a segment of people, when they were never taught that this was part of the plan?
If I understand this correctly, Jamie says the Republicans concentrate on "If you believe as we do, then you should be one of us", whereas the Democrats' emphasis is on "you're a part of 'X' segment of society, tell us the concerns of the 'X' segment, and we'll address them as best we can". In other words, it's about the beliefs versus about the people.
The more cynical among us might say the people path is all about getting more votes, and getting and remaining in power – and I'd have to agree that this is at least partly true. After all, how many racist white Democratic politicians witnessed the civil rights struggle of the 60's and saw a burgeoning young source of political power? As I've pointed out before, the Democrats saw which way the political wind was blowing, and embraced it. The Republicans either didn't see which way the wind was blowing, or ignored it.
Perhaps the last two sentences capture the difference between liberals and conservatives in a nutshell: liberals by nature want change, and conservatives by nature want things to stay the same. This would indicate that the Republicans, as literate and intelligent as they surely are, did indeed see the approaching change for what it was, and resisted it with all their might.
It should be so easy for the Republicans to attract even a majority of the African-American and Latino voters; after all, the African-American and Latino communities tend to hold conservative beliefs. In California's Proposition 8 ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, seven in 10 blacks and 53 percent of Latinos voted in favor of the ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage.
So, is it about the beliefs or is it about the people? The minority vote for Proposition 8 would strongly indicate that African-Americans and Latinos agree with the family values espoused by the Republican party, but when it came to the 2008 election cycle, did they vote for the party that supported their family values? Or did they vote for the party that has been striving to address the equal-rights issues, the cultural issues that are so central to their respective segments of the American people? We all know the answer: to the minorities, it was about the people, and not about the beliefs.
The minorities have the perception that the Republicans don't care about them as a people, and this perception among the Latinos was strongly reinforced in the recent Sotomayor confirmation hearings. I think I can safely say that most Republicans really didn't think Sotomayor was racist, I suspect that most Republicans thought highly of her. Be that as it may, many of the most verbal Republicans were either implying or outright claiming that she was a racist. The fact that Senator Jeff Sessions, who was denied a seat on the federal bench in 1986 by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 9-9 vote which deemed him “grossly insensitive” on racial issues, was the Republicans' point man addressing Sotomayor's alleged racism can't have been lost on the Latino community.
Unless either the Democrats really screw things up in the next eight years or there's a major terrorist strike that the Republicans can use to accuse the Democrats of being weak on terrorism (never mind that 9/11 happened well into George's watch), I see no way the Republican party can pull itself out of the vicious circle forcing it into a death spiral to becoming a regional party. There will be hiccups along the way, Republicans will win here or there, but the ongoing demographic changes are ensuring their eventual devolution into irrelevancy. The Republican party can avoid this fate if they can learn to attract even forty percent of the Latino and African-American communities, but the Republican demand for loyalty to the base at all costs requires rigidity in belief rather than building that big tent for all the peoples of the land.
I suspect, or hope, that one of two things will happen: either the libertarians will organize and pick up the pieces of the once-mighty Republican party, or (more likely) the Democrats will eventually split into two parties: one centrist, and the other more progressive (like me). I don't think the libertarians can do it, because just like the Republicans, they're about beliefs, and not about people.
To the conservatives here, I recommend you speak to the powerful within your party. Tell them that they must honestly reach out to minorities, that they must convince the minority voters that the Republican party really does care about what they want as a people and a culture, that they must band together and reject conservative pundits like "Barack the Magic Negro" Rush Limbaugh, "homosexuals are pedophiles" Michael Savage, and "Sotomayor's a bigot" Mark Levin. In the end, it really is the people — the votes — that count.