The Complexities of Identity Politics

Winning Latinos to the GOP Requires More than a Latin Face

Latino voters presented a significant boost to President Obama’s 2012 electoral victory. Obama won 71% of the Latino vote, second only to Bill Clinton’s 72% in 1996. As Republicans go, George W. Bush scored highest among Latino voters winning 40% of their votes in 2004. Recreating Bush’s success among Latinos would make the GOP an unstoppable force in presidential races. The Party knows this and scrambles for outreach opportunities, including highlighting the ethnic identities of some of the highest profile national Republicans. As the 2016 presidential race breaks ground, two Latino Republicans face an interesting appeal to Latino voters that speaks to the intersection of identity politics and Republican immigration policy.


Texas senator, Ted Cruz (already a 2016 presidential candidate), and Florida senator, Marco Rubio (a potential contender), arguably make up the two most visible Republican Latinos in the country. Both, though, suffer among Latino voters because of how their immigration stances square with their ethnic identities. For starters, they’re Cuban–sons of Cuban immigrants. Cubans make up only 3 percent of American Latinos, while the overwhelming majority of American Latinos are Mexican.


“To think that Mexican-Americans, who make up two-thirds of U.S. Latinos, will embrace Rubio just because he has a Spanish surname simply points up the cluelessness that dug the GOP its Latino hole in the first place,” writes Tim Padgett in Time.


Their heritage puts them at odds with the Latino immigrants who represent the primary focus of the immigration debate. Cubans who sneak out of their country and arrive on the shores of the United States are instantly legalized. Mexicans who do the same are not. Fighting legalization efforts for illegal Mexicans appears to many as pulling up the rescue ladder after climbing out of danger. Left wing immigration activist groups like the Dream Action Coalition responded to Cruz’ candidacy incisively, hammering him on his immigration stance. Co-directors, Cesar Vargas and Erika Andiola even  penned a sickening and insulting statement about Cruz saying:


“While Ted Cruz has a Latino name and immigration in his past, that’s where the similarities between him and the Latino community end.”


Mr. Rubio, too, faces similar pressures about his immigration stance. Michael Grunwald writes in Time that Rubio’s own mother called him to chastise him about his immigration stance:


“Don’t mess with the immigrants, my son. Please, don’t mess with them…[los pobrecitos] work hard and get treated horribly…They’re human beings just like us, and they came for the same reasons we came. To work. To improve their lives. So please, don’t mess with them.”


The answer to this problem mirrors that to the problem Republicans have with other minority groups–Republicans must mind their tone and avoid patronizing those they wish to attract. On the topic of immigration, Mr. Rubio understands this.


“Rubio may have helped narrow the uneasy gap between Cubans and the rest of Latinos. That’s because he took the unprecedented step of comparing the designated beneficiaries of the DREAM Act – who are mostly of Mexican…descent – to ‘Cuban refugees’…Extending similar consideration to non-Cuban teenagers and young adults who were brought to the U.S. as children by their illegal immigrant parents is ‘a humanitarian mission,’ said Rubio… “We have a chance to allow them to get right what their parents got wrong.”


Mr. Cruz, on the other hand, must clarify what he believes should befall the illegal immigrants who live in the United States currently. So far, Cruz equivocates. He enjoys the perception that he registers on the far right of the Party on immigration–the section of the Party that excoriates Mr. Rubio’s softer approach to the hot-button issue–but in reality, his position differs little from Rubio’s.
The difference between the two is tone. Tone will determine which candidates survive the nomination process, and which will drop out before the contest ends. More importantly, though, striking the right tone on immigration, one that respects the rule of law while recognizing the humanity of the people who fled their homes to come here, risking their lives and their children’s lives in order to work and live peaceably, ranks a top priority for a Party seeking to attract more people to its ranks. A Spanish surname isn’t enough.

Support Black and Red in 3 Easy Steps

3 Ways to Support Black and Red

It’s great to be back writing Black and Red. If you like what you see here so far, please consider supporting Black and Red in these 3 easy ways.

One: Facebook
The Black and Red Facebook page is finally up, but it’s relatively bare. I’m completely new to Facebook, so if you have any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them and put them to use. Right now on the Facebook page, I’m creating logos for the burgeoning podcast and plan to post some interesting videos and give you an under the hood look at the blog. Input is always appreciated.

Two: Twitter
You can also support Black and Red by following me on Twitter. Retweet articles to your followers and help more people get involved in the site. In the past, I’ve live tweeted debates, important speeches and other political events. I plan to do so with upcoming important events as well.

Three: Email
A third way to support Black and Red is to email articles to your friends and associates. If you think they’ll nod or grind their teeth, another perspective never hurt anyone. You can sign up to have new Black and Red posts sent to your email as soon as they’re published.

Finally, I always appreciate reading your comments–good or bad, but preferably clean.

A Quick Word about the Black and Red Podcast

The Black and Red podcast is in its beginning stages. I’m lining up interviews on a wide variety of topics, and am hoping to get something going soon. It all really depends on who is willing to be interviewed on some fun, but some very serious topics. Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for spreading the word about Black and Red.

The Free Exchange (15-003)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

Goodbye Aaron Schock: How Republicans Should Move Forward

Black and Red Fan writes:

I remember you telling me about Schock back then. It’s too bad that he turned out to be such an arrogant and immoral man. I always wonder about what you said to me a while ago: if a person is a true conservative then his or her life should reflect the conservative values at all levels. And if so, how could this happen to such a promising young supposedly conservative man? I guess Schock’s talent was in being a good orator and having charisma. But perhaps he wasn’t a true conservative? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

I have met and know about this Darin LaHood. He almost married one of my former friend & colleague back at the State’s Attorney’s Office. He broke it off with her and later quickly married someone else in what looked to be a shotgun wedding. He was at the Nevada US Attorney’s Office for a little while. (Father’s connection no doubt, as he has no known ties to that state) He then ran for the Peoria State’s Attorney and lost. He has wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps into politics way back in his law school days. I remember having some conversations with him where it was pretty clear to me that he was no principled conservative. I’m not saying he’s a leftist, but he sounds more moderate just like his dad. The main impression I got from him is that he cared more about being in politics rather than the ideology or values.

He’s been gearing for this his whole life. I find people like this end up making the worst politicians. He’s really only in it for himself, not for a greater cause. These are the kinds of guys who later get into scandals like Schock or Rostenkowski. It sounds like he’s the frontrunner which is too bad. I hope Bill Brady runs and beats LaHood.

Anyways, this is the last kinds of things that we need especially since we are now in power at Congress. I hope we don’t have the scandal-filled headline days like we did back in 2006. What a shame and good riddance. I hope Schock goes to prison and let him reflect on swallowing his arrogance.

J. Hunter:

Thank you for commenting. You’re right about Schock, it’s a shame that he was such an arrogant guy. His farewell address to Congress was pretty despicable, in my view. He doesn’t appear to be contrite at all, but rather, annoyed that he was caught. Tell me what you think.

Your personal interactions with Darin LaHood are fascinating and your observations about his ideology concern Illinois conservatives as well. Brady will not seek the open seat though, unfortunately. There’s talk of a challenger, but I think the seat will go to the well-connected LaHood. In one respect, this isn’t much of a surprise: Illinois is simply not a conservative stronghold. Our Republican governor holds moderate views, though I like him. It’s just a shame that in order to be governor in Illinois, one must equivocate on killing babies.

As for the conversation you and I had some years ago about an instinctive conservatism, I still think about that. Basically, my thought is that some people are instinctively conservative–to their core. I know people like this: they are emotionally connected to conservative principles and don’t even bristle at conservative policy ideas that are utterly shocking to liberal sensibilities. I think, for example, of Colorado’s Amendment 2 that caused the controversy in Romer v. Evans. Amendment 2 was supported by Republicans and viewed simply as a states’ rights matter. Liberals, though, were mortified at the very thought of the law. Similarly, the new Indiana Law protecting religious rights strikes liberals as completely untenable. For the record, I support SB 101.

There are conservatives–people who vote for Republicans, who uphold conservative tenets–who are personally conflicted or even afraid to defend some conservative values. They agree with the values intellectually but accept a tradeoff that allows them to support a policy that offends their knee-jerk sensibilities. Imagine, if you would, someone who is almost instinctively frugal. He’s disgusted (emotionally, viscerally) by wasting money, and cringes whenever he hears stories about people and governments squandering cash. Now, imagine someone who works hard at frugality because he knows (intellectually) that he should. He thinks about his retirement and does things to actively curtail his impulse to spend. He, unlike the other, isn’t viscerally offended when he doesn’t get a good deal, or whenever he hears stories about Paris Hilton’s expensive handbags. Both of these men could vote Republican and argue the supremacy of conservatism, but one (at least in terms of spending) is a conservative to his core, one could say.  The first man’s heart informs his mind. The second’s mind trains his passions. In a practical sense, is either one, really “less” conservative when they revel in the same result?

As always, I’m curious about your thoughts on this.

I’d like to thank each of my commenters this week, and all of my readers. To all of my readers: please feel free to leave a comment–positive or negative (but, preferably clean) whenever you feel so inclined.
Please, also, feel free to share any and all of what you find on Black and Red with anyone and everyone. You can find me on twitter (@blkandred) and NOW ON Facebook! Thank you for your support. Have a wonderful week!

(Entirely Negative) Thoughts on Ted Cruz’ Candidacy

Cruzin’ for a Bruisin’

On Monday, Texas senator, Ted Cruz, becomes the first Republican to formally announce his candidacy for president in 2016.  The controversial first term senator enters the fray without having first conducted an exploratory commission. Cruz begins with the lowest prior year polling numbers than anyone since Bill Clinton, a factoid that Mr. Cruz probably welcomes given Clinton’s electoral success. Cruz also takes pride in his status as a right-wing firebrand, a badge of honor among hardline Republicans who see the key to victory in confronting the left and purging the Party of so-called “RINOs” (Republicans in name only). Cruz’ reputation similarly elicits cringing, facepalming and groaning from Republicans who see victory in appealing to a broader base of voters. Count me in the latter camp.


Betsy Woodruff, writing at, quotes a Republican aide giving his thoughts on Cruz:


“Cruz is going to have to stop undermining conservative victories for the sake of getting more press…We had made a lot of progress and he just undid it all for something he knew was not going to be possible.”


At first read, it may appear as if the aide’s words referred to Cruz’ unilateral plan to force Congress (sans, at that time, the huge Republican majorities that exist today) to send a bill to the president defunding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in the midst of a budget battle that Republicans were winning. Republican Senate leadership cried foul as Cruz’ tactic derailed their aims in the showdown with President Barack Obama. Nonetheless, Cruz’ efforts, consisting of an hours long filibuster in which he read Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham,” culminated in a partial government shutdown and the lowest favorability numbers the GOP has ever recorded (28%).


Instead, though, the aide was referring to another of Cruz’ tactics–a ruse to block funding for President Obama’s immigration moves. Cruz (along with Utah Senator Mike Lee) precluded Harry Reid (then, Majority Leader) from adjourning the Senate before a weekend break at the end of the Senate’s lame duck session. Just as in the defunding Obamacare fight, Cruz and his short list of allies lacked the votes needed to claim ultimate victory. With his typical flamboyant self-serving, bombast, he brought a point of order to a vote that called Obama’s actions unconstitutional. The measure lost 22-74.


Senator Kelly Ayotte called Cruz’ move “ridiculous.” Senator Jeff Flake called Cruz’ move “counterproductive.” Maine Senator, Susan Collins, said to Cruz that he was “going to make everybody miserable.” Each of them was right except for Senator Collins: Harry Reid was not miserable. Cruz’ tactic allowed Reid to confirm more than 10 Obama nominees (many of them federal judges with lifetime appointments) that otherwise may not have passed, as Democrats were expected to go home after voting for the Cromnibus bill.


Cruz’ alienation of fellow Republicans ends not just with elected members of Congress. It extends, even, to other presumed presidential contenders, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. When asked whether he thought Bush is a conservative, Cruz refused to answer (which he intended to be the answer).


Matthew Boyle at Breitbart posits that Democrats might seriously fear a Cruz nomination. Given Cruz’ penchant for dividing conservatives, the most reliable voting bloc for Republican candidates, nothing could be further from the truth. Quoting a DNC mass email, Boyle writes that Cruz’ candidacy “sent shivers down” Democrats’ spines. I understand that sentiment. Boyle need only consider the second part of the sentence in the DNC mailer that says that Cruz’ candidacy also elicits “a pretty serious roll of the eyes.” I relate to that too.


As it happens, Cruz’ campaign announcement is welcome news to conservatives who fail to understand why Republicans have struggled electorally in recent years. These are my brothers and sisters in the movement who erroneously believe (against all available data) that conservatives sat out the 2008 and 2012 election because the Republican candidates were too moderate. The reality is, many conservative ideas are popular, but the Republican brand is unpopular.

The negative stereotype about Republicans is not that we are too mushy, but rather, that we are too abrasive. That we are self-serving. That we are obstructionists. That we put politics ahead of practicality. That we don’t “care about people like me.” Ted Cruz’ candidacy embodies everything about Republicans that everybody hates. Mr. Cruz will likely not survive the nomination process. Hopefully, he resists the urge to further harm the Republican brand by reinforcing these negative stereotypes as the novelty of this tryst flames out.

The Free Exchange (15-002)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.

Why Rand Paul (and Others) are Wrong about Pot

Brian writes:

The 2011 emergency room visit report of marijuana next to heroin is alarming, but to me I feel that this report could be skewed because if you’re dead [heroin overdose]… you don’t need an ER visit. Also, “new research indicates” is a phrase that I believe we’re all a little tired of hearing. It’s old news that pot is bad for your lungs, bad for your brain, bad for safety, and thus bad for society. We don’t need another legalized vice and we still have all these unregulated synthetics to worry about. Look out America PALCOHOL is coming soon! Round up the BAN WAGON!

Seriously though, making a drug like marijuana just makes it more available, more acceptable, and more obtainable for every audience we want nowhere near it.

J. Hunter

Thank you for reading and commenting, Brian.

You’re right to note that the heroin overdose numbers could speak to heroin’s lethality over marijuana’s. That said, I think that the great difference between the numbers may diminish that argument a bit, as it probably can’t be contributed to that fact alone. Not to mention, if you look at the graph (USA Today is known for its graphs and charts), you’ll see that cocaine ER visits dwarf both marijuana and heroin.

Of course, I agree with you that we want to shrink marijuana’s access rather than enlarge it, and that’s the point entirely.

I’d like to thank each of my commenters this week, and all of my readers. I’d especially like to thank the very kind folks at The Black Conservative blog. Thank you for your encouragement and for alerting your readership to my return from hiatus (among other things, my family just welcomed twins, so it’d be wise to buy stock in Similac right about now).

To all of my readers: please feel free to leave a comment–positive or negative (but, preferably clean) whenever you feel so inclined.
Please, also, feel free to share any and all of what you find on Black and Red with anyone and everyone. You can find me on twitter (@blkandred) and the Facebook fan page is coming soon. Thank you for your support. Have a wonderful week!

Loretta Lynch is a Hostage. Who are Her Captors?

Democrats Play a Tired Hand on Lynch Confirmation

On Thursday, Arizona Senator, John McCain, registered his disgust with Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin’s assertion that Republicans refuse to confirm Loretta Lynch’s nomination to Attorney General because Lynch is black.

“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus…That’s unfair. It’s unjust,” Durbin said before a giant poster of the smiling Loretta Lynch.

Of course, Republicans have every right to hold up Lynch’s nomination. For starters, Senate Democrats broke faith by filibustering a bipartisan bill aimed at staunching human trafficking. In their view, taxpayers should pay for the trafficked women’s abortions–a position they did not hold as they voted for the bill unanimously in committees and unanimously in an appropriations bill. Secondly, elections have consequences, among which, for the minority party, include concessions to the will of the ruling majority (see Exhibits 1 and 2).

Dana Milbank correctly notes the bad optics Republicans face in this gambit.

“The very white, very male Republican Party has managed to get itself caught in another thicket in the hostile terrain of identity politics…Democrats…know…the GOP’s troubles with women and minorities worsen each day McConnell delays.”

Democrats rely on Milbank’s assertion being correct, which is why Durbin, a high-ranking Democrat delivered the despicable charge, and why McCain, a high-ranking Republican, was the right choice to shoot it down.

“Perhaps my colleagues, and the senator from Illinois in particular, need to be reminded of their own record when it comes to the treatment of African American women whose nominations were before this body,” McCain said of Durbin’s filibustering Janice Rogers Brown. McCain could have mentioned Durbin’s filibuster of Condoleeza Rice as well, but bringing up Durbin’s 7 filibusters of Miguel Estrada (the first latino nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals) helped make his point well enough.

As usual, though, the facts give way to politics in the President Barack Obama’s case. Obama engaged in his routine use of hyperbole, asserting that the Republicans were holding Lynch “hostage.”

Forget that Democrat gamesmanship led to this “hostage crisis.” Kimberly Strassel’s piece in the Wall Street Journal attacks a leg of the Democrat’s cynical claim and puts it into proper context.

“Similarly laughable are Democratic claims that Ms. Lynch has now waited longer than any AG nominee since Ed Meese in 1985. That number only works if it includes all the time last year that Mr. Reid, who was still running the Senate (remember that?), didn’t act on her nomination. He was too busy packing the courts with Obama judicial nominees.”

Furthermore, on the subject of hostages, it is President Obama whose veto of the bipartisan bill to build the Keystone XL pipeline made “hostages” of the thousands (though not 42,000) hoping that Washington’s cantankerous politics would yield long enough to bring them into the workforce.

What about the women and girls tortured and brutalized by human traffickers? Are Democrats not holding them hostage so they can violate the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to fund abortions?

Indeed, it is the Democrats who are guilty of malfeasance in this affair. They have managed to play the Race Card, the Gender Card and the Terrorist Card all in the same hand. The trump card, though, is the massive Republican victory in 2014. The Republicans are right to hold up Lynch’s nomination absent Democrat acquiescence on conservative policy goals.

And so it shall be for the next year and a half.

Why Rand Paul (and Others) are Wrong about Pot

Legalizing Pot is Anti-Science

New research from Northwestern University contributes to the mountain of evidence asserting that marijuana use poses serious public health risks. The study, published in the journal, Hippocampus, asserts that teenagers who reported heavy marijuana use had abnormally shaped hippocampuses and performed poorly on long-term memory exercises. This study is the first to link the abnormal shape in the hippocampus (a phenomenon among heavy marijuana users observed in other studies) with poor long term memory performances (another phenomenon noted in  studies about heavy marijuana users). While proponents of legalized recreational marijuana may attempt to discount the study based on two qualifiers (teenagers and heavy), each of these objections fail to recognize other studies that address those qualifiers. Simply put, marijuana poses health risks to teenagers and adults regardless of how casually or heavily they use. The unambiguous conclusion of decades of research calls upon liberals, classical and otherwise, to answer for their advocacy of loosening marijuana restrictions.

News of the Northwestern study competes with that of high profile Republican senator, Rand Paul’s, proposed legislation  to protect medical marijuana users from prosecution in states where medical marijuana is legal. The Cato Institute’s Jeffrey Miron supports this legislation as a common sense approach to drug laws made more confusing by conflicting messaging from state governments and the federal government about marijuana’s legal status. Miron argues that marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside harder drugs like LSD and heroin, makes little sense.

“Putting pot in Schedule I is bizarre. Few observers believe either that marijuana has ‘no currently accepted medical use’ or that it has ‘a high potential for abuse,’ and many believe it’s safer than the drugs in Schedules I and II.”

Ironically, it is Miron’s argument that is bizarre.

One of the “few observers” Miron casually dismisses is Dr. Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a psychiatrist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Breiter co-authored a study about the dangers of casual marijuana use among young adults (not just teenagers).

“I’ve developed a severe worry about whether we should be allowing anybody under age 30 to use pot unless they have a terminal illness and need it for pain, writes Breiter. “This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences.”

Miron’s quoting the “many” who believe that marijuana is safer than the drugs in Schedules I and II poses two problems. First, the “many” are wrong. Liz Szabo, writing for USA Today, quotes the findings of a group of studies found in the New England Journal of Medicine. In 2011, marijuana accounted for 455,668 drug related emergency room visits whereas heroin only accounted for 258,482. In fact, heroin consistently caused fewer emergency room visits than marijuana. Furthermore, the studies found an indirect relationship between high school seniors’ perceptions about the safety of marijuana, and their usage of marijuana. In other words, when seniors generally perceived marijuana to be safe, they smoked more of it.

Despite these facts, Senator Paul’s proposal appears, at first glance, reasonable. His legislation means to simply bring clarity to muddied drug laws. Beneath the surface, though, Paul’s intent looks more like one of normalizing marijuana use. In January, Paul called former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, a hypocrite for standing by a continuation of criminalizing marijuana despite his own admitted dalliances with the drug.

“This is a guy [Bush] who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do…I think that the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side…who made mistakes growing up…still want to put people in jail for that,” Paul said.

No. The real hypocrisy is admitting that the science is right–marijuana is not safe–but working to make it more easily accessible to people anyway.

Goodbye Aaron Schock: How Republicans Should Move Forward

Awe & Schock

In 2008, in a crowded conference room of a hotel in Decatur, IL, I sat with a throng of tired, dejected Republicans as an alternate delegate at the state Republican Convention. It was the last day of the convention, and besides staring down a seemingly inevitable national loss, incisive infighting colored many of the convention meetings–further depressing a feisty, but usually cheerful, lot. Politician after politician delivered droning speeches that garnered a smattering of applause not loud enough to drown out the buzz of side conversations. Then, a young representative took the mic, and everything changed. Aaron Schock spoke without note cards. He engaged us. His message of hope and reform made us forget, for just a moment, that we were in the midst of a “tough” election. We saw reason for optimism beyond November–and we needed it.

He started his first IRA at 14 and was elected to serve on a school board just 5 years later. From the beginning, Mr. Schock represented something of a prodigy. His natural good looks were an extra tool in his charm offensive. He won his election and quickly rose to national prominence. Refusing to shy from speaking at minority events, Schock, one of the youngest serving members in the House, provided a roadmap for Republicans wanting to make inroads in communities less receptive to the conservative message (I even mentioned this talent here). In 2010, his district was redrawn such that it now heavily favors Republicans. Born in the Reagan era, Schock represented a new wave for the GOP–a new generation of fresh faced leaders.

On Tuesday, the shiny new carriage of the Republican message turned into a pumpkin–Mr. Schock resigned amidst a growing controversy regarding his unethical spending of campaign and federal monies. Accusations, for weeks, dogged him, beginning with a Washington Post piece about his ornate office and ending with a particularly embarrassing account of plain fraud in which the Congressman allegedly received reimbursements for mileage that he never drove.

Obvious lessons about pride and avarice abound, but a baser interest requires resolution: His vices aside, the Republicans lost a talented congressman. Who will fill the vacant seat?

Illinois’ new Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, will call a special election to fill the vacancy. According to the Chicago Tribune, three potential candidates have already expressed interest–Illinois Senator Bill Brady (whose failed gubernatorial campaign I proudly served as a volunteer); Darin LaHood, the son of Schock’s predecessor, Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood; and Illinois State Senator Jason Barickman, who plans to announce Wednesday whether or not he will pursue the position. Whoever ascends to Schock’s seat will almost certainly be a Republican and will just as certainly be a principled conservative (I can speak to Mr. Brady when I say that if he pursues the seat and wins, he will surely please the conservative base).

But, what we lose in Schock’s departure goes beyond having a congressman who votes the right way and serves as a dynamo fundraiser. We also lose someone who knows how to connect people with our message. We lose someone who worked to expand our party at a time when our party needs more members and voters. As much as I admire (and agree with) Mr. Brady, I am unsure that he feels the impetus to filter his conservative messaging through a lens focused on growing the Party’s appeal. This should represent a top priority for the Republican Party.

Yes, we happily say goodbye to a corrupt, prodigal opportunist, who was moments away from a scandal that could have damaged the Party even more (Schock considered a run for Illinois governor, which may have led to yet another Illinois governor trading in an Armani suit for one of the bright orange variety). Yes, Benjamin Cole, Schock’s senior advisor for policy and communications, was an embarrassment. But this whole event is a shame.

This shame can grow if Schock’s replacement fails to encourage more people to consider joining the conservative movement.

The Free Exchange (15-001)

The Free Exchange is a regular forum in which I reply to reader comments on the week’s articles. I encourage any reader who has questions, disagreements, suggestions, or statements to leave a comment here. I’m always happy to hear from you and willing to respond.


Welcome to the New Black and Red

Black and Red Fan writes:

Wow!! This is an answer to prayer. You were sorely missed and I am so happy to see Black & Red’s return. I am excited at all the possibilities. It’s probably too early for you to take requests but future possibilities/my requests include being able to access your old articles and audio blogs. Sky’s the limit.

J. Hunter:

Thank you so much. You’ve been with me from the beginning of this blog, always offering me encouragement and the impetus to improve the site. I’m in the tedious process of moving all of my old articles to a file and erasing them from the old site. They’ll be available to you and by request, but not widely available beyond that.


Once I get a good amount of material on the new blog, get the Facebook fan page humming and establish a posting schedule, etc., I plan to jump into the audio again. I just got a new mixing board for interviews, and I already have a good list of topics that I’d like to pursue for the podcast. The time required for creating even a single podcast can be quite much: editing 5 minutes of audio can sometimes take more than 10 minutes, for example. That said, I don’t want to sacrifice the budding blog to a budding podcast just yet. But I am excited about getting to the point when the podcast can become a regular part of Black and Red.


Keep praying! I need and appreciate it.




Brian writes:

Thank God the hiatus has ended! I am looking forward to having more poignant conversations about today’s issues instead of having to deal with specious arguments from windbag hacks on the radio [looking at you Joe Walsh]!

I’ve marked my calendar… the day a long spell of laryngitis has been cured.

J. Hunter:

Thank you, sir. I look forward to keeping you engaged.

Colin Powell and the “Dark Vein” of Intolerance

Black and Red Fan writes:

Well said. This is a sermon that you should be giving, as these are such important points that you are making. One thing though is I would love to hear your thoughts on specifically why Powell would say this considering how well he was treated by the Republican Party?

I wanted to leave a 2nd comment but I don’t see any such option. And so as strange as it sounds, I need to leave a reply to my own comment in order to do so. So please excuse this strange result.

Your piece has been on my mind as usual when you write. My guess with why Powell would do this is that he is a leftist at heart? That he never shared the ideological values of conservatism? And so with leftism being a religion that is impervious to logic and his own life experiences, this is why he said this disgusting untruth.

In terms of the perception thing, my suggestion is that yes GOP should do more reaching out by going to NAACP events etc. But we should also call them on their lies such as Ferguson and its terrible result such as the 2 NY cops murdered. Same with George Zimmerman.

In addition, we can continue to make the logical arguments (majority white country voting in a black president, America least racist country based on ideas, not ethnicity, point out real racism in other countries such as Japan, Middle East etc) But as Prager said once, I think the real hope for progress in this area lies with minority conservatives such as me and you. Unfortunately the reality of life is that the messenger is more powerful than the message. Thoughts or comments are always welcome.

J. Hunter:

Thank you so much for your comments.

I’m glad that this piece has been on your mind, I know that this is a topic that’s important to both of us. I hope that my response offers more insight into my thoughts on Mr. Powell’s statements.


I will say that my own experiences in the Republican Party have been overwhelmingly positive. I don’t mention this to create any sense of equivalence between myself and Mr. Powell–I am a fish egg in the vast Republican ocean compared to him, and I have only been a Republican for about 15 years. Mr. Powell has been part of the Party much longer, and experienced the Party at a time when America was less enlightened on matters of race. I mention my personal sentiments only to say that my assertions about the Party’s race problems do not stem from mistreatment that I have personally sustained, but from observations and from others’ trusted testimonies.


First, I can’t exactly speak for why Powell said what he did except to assume that he expresses his own true belief. I also don’t begrudge his expression regardless of how the Party has treated him–I see the two as separate issues. He, for example, may have been treated well, but may have seen other blacks within the Party treated poorly. If that were the case, then he’d have an obligation to speak out. Otherwise, one could say, for example, that a well-treated black had no right to speak out against civil rights offenses in 1960s America.


Second, I am not inclined to attribute Powell’s statement to a flawed political conviction. Again, I see the two as unconnected. For more on this point, I recommend reading Clarence Thomas’ essay in the book, “Black and Right: The Bold New Voice of Black Conservatives in America.” His assessment of race problems in the GOP are simply scathing–hard to read, even. Thomas says, for example,  “there was the appearance within the conservative ranks that blacks were to be tolerated but not necessarily welcomed.” He writes further, “It was made clear more than once that, since blacks did not vote right, they were owed nothing…there was a general sense that we were being avoided and circumvented…There was a general refusal to listen to the opinions of black conservatives. In fact, it often appeared that our white counterparts actually hid from our advice.” There is more text like this within the essay, and just these excerpts dwarf the criticism Powell levied. I don’t doubt Thomas’ political convictions, though, so I definitely don’t doubt Powell’s.


Third, and most importantly, I don’t believe that what Powell said is untrue. For starters, Powell didn’t say that the Republican Party was a racist party, or that it was uniquely racist. He said that he stills sees it (strands of racism) in the Republican Party, but you don’t have to be a Republican to be touched by it. That latter statement confirms my sense that it would be extraordinary if this were not so, given America’s racial history and how that history affects us today. Racism shapes part of who we are as a people. It doesn’t define us, it is simply a part of us–a negative part. The Republican Party, which best represents the whole of America, will inevitably quarter racists. That said, we are a great nation and the Republican Party is a great party, just as the philandering Martin Luther King Jr. was still a great man and had much to teach us. What makes us a great people, and a great party lies in how we deal with our shortcomings. As a nation, we fight our inherited flaw.


As for the GOP, I fear that it does a poor job at purging racists. We did a much better job, in the 1960s, purging anti-semites. I see this not only as it pertains to blacks, but also as it pertains to Latinos and others as well. There is a sickening self-righteousness that costs us the hearts and minds of too many groups (see the Texas delegation’s planned walkout on Jim Kolbe in 2000 and CPAC disinviting GOProud in 2012). Since losing black support between the 40s and the 60s, we have concluded that we shouldn’t pursue blacks as aggressively as we pursue other groups (Suburbanites, Middle-classers and Latinos, for example). We are at the point now, where we consider presidential candidates successful if they get as much black support as George W. Bush received in 2004–11%. We say that we only need enough blacks to win. But if conservative ideas make for better lives, why don’t we try to attract even more? Why not try for 35%? What would that take?


You don’t have to wait long after asking that question to a room full of conservatives before someone says we cannot get 35% of the black vote without changing our message. But that is not true, and I think we know that is not true. Otherwise, we hold that either blacks are inherently liberal (which is wrong and racist) or that they are incapable, somehow, of receiving our message (which is wrong and racist). I think the sentiment is closer to: they’re not worth the trouble. I admit to having even thought this myself.


At the 50th anniversary of the Selma March, President George W. Bush marched with Reince Priebus and others. The New York Times cut him out of the image it posted on its front page. Civil Rights icon, Diane Nash, refused to march because Bush was in attendance. Nash supported her cowardly, moronic position to an applauding audience. Some Republicans, viewing this, would argue that we can’t win–that we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. That, too often, serves as an excuse for why we shouldn’t even try. As you may know, that is not an uncommon conclusion. But it is a wrong one. One that makes blacks wonder why the GOP hasn’t taken a new approach, or simply tried harder. After all, Republican candidates like Bruce Rauner and Aaron Shock (both coincidentally Illinois politicians) when asked how they did so well among blacks, simply answer that they went to black neighborhoods to talk to black people and set up events in black areas. Often, they report, these are areas that haven’t seen Republicans in decades. Why is that? More importantly, put yourself in the shoes of the Republican, like me, who wants to grow the party and convince the vast majority of blacks who did not vote for Bush or McCain or Romney that the GOP wants them to join us. The skeptical black asks, “If the GOP wants us, why aren’t they here? The Democrats say they don’t care about us, and it appears as if they don’t.”  What should be my response when Republicans have abandoned these areas for decades?


I disagree with Powell on Voter ID laws, but I don’t write off his critique–not with black poll numbers like the ones we experience. Haven’t we moderated our verbiage on immigration to keep from turning off Latinos? (I’d argue that we need to do more of that, but we, at least, entertain the notion.) What have we done to appeal specifically to blacks? Is it helpful to never campaign in black neighborhoods, but then refer to black Democrats as being on a plantation or having a plantation mindset? When Mitt Romney said that 47% of people won’t vote for him, essentially because they’re voting to get free stuff from the government, he was impugning more than 90% of blacks. Instead of castigating the assumption of Romney’s claim, questioning whether years of bad messaging made blacks feel unwelcome in the Republican Party, many Republicans wrote his statement off as being bad, not because it was untrue, but because it was too honest for politics. Does that help or hurt our cause among blacks?


I’ll close by saying that the biggest mistake we can make is to vilify internal critics. That would create a chilling effect that we can’t afford, and don’t want even if we could afford it. That is why I detest calling other Republicans “R.I.N.O.s” or trashing our brethren for holding a slightly different view. What we should do is moderate our message (not our policies). We need to speak to how our policies will help black people, and we need to do so in a way that is accessible to all. We also have to accept damned if you do, damned if you don’t; and simply choose to be damned for doing. We have a lot of work ahead of us.


I hope this answered your question. As you know, I’m always willing to discuss further.


Thank you.


Brian writes:

All politicians know, because their handlers and campaign managers know, that perception IS reality. So, the perception that the head honchos of the Republican party don’t care about acknowledging racism among their ranks IS the reality that blacks and other minorities who have any interest in joining the Republican party are going to experience. This event is one of those “NO SPIN NEEDED” news stories that just emboldens the Left in their quest to officially own the minority vote. Go ahead guys, turn ‘em away. We’ll see a Republican president in 2048 maybe… a house divided and all that jazz…


J. Hunter:

Thank you for the comment, Brian. I would say simply, you’d be amazed how diverse the opinions and abilities of handlers and campaign managers is. I wouldn’t say that GOP leadership doesn’t care about acknowledging racism in the Party, rather, I’d ask how one addresses it. We work with what we have. Right now, there aren’t enough blacks in the party to give it the look of inclusion that we need. So, we must seek out more people of color. What tools do we have to do that? People who don’t as readily identify with their target audience. It is a frustrating situation that can lead to hopelessness. I think that the answer is to fight the despair because to do so shows an interest level that is not seen currently.

Black and Red Fan writes:

Another article! What a treat. This is an interesting one. Like you, I actually don’t care about this story. I don’t see any substance behind it but I read that Trende article as well. And I guess that’s where this story plays out. It just shows her arrogance and her political clumsiness, which is great news for us.

You once said that Romney’s loss in 2012 was mainly attributable to the public perceiving (rightly or wrongly) that Romney didn’t seem to care about/relate to the troubles of the common, middle class citizen; that he seemed like a cold, detached, rich Gordon Gecko type. Do you think that Hillary Clinton has the same unlikability problem (which was raised in a debate with Obama) or the same unrelability problem as well? Interesting. I’m more drawn to substantive and policy discussion, as this seems like high school/reality show type of stuff, but if it helps us, I will certainly take it.


J. Hunter:

I am completely with you. I thought the dust up over the emails was absurd and childish before I read Trende’s piece. I will add this, too, I spoke with someone who works in messaging and opposition research with some prominent national Republican candidates. He posited that one of the candidates rumored to run in 2016 dug up this information on Clinton, positioned him/herself in an advantageous way and then leaked the findings to the press. In other words, this is a shot across the bow of Team Clinton.


As for Clinton’s likeability, I think she’s still lacking. That said, the most important thing is, her lacking does not matter if we offer a worse alternative. Primaries matter.


Thank you for reading and commenting.


Brian writes:

Hillary has a big broom and the public a big rug to sweep all of this underneath. I don’t believe this will be an issue to her election-worthiness unless she comes out as the “transparency” candidate. I mean really, her husband said that “depends on what the meaning of “is” is,” and people love him.

If we don’t focus on getting OUR candidates together, we won’t have to worry about her Secretary of State emails, we’ll have to worry about her Presidential ones.

J. Hunter

I definitely agree, Brian. I would add that too many people see Hillary and Bill as being equally adept politicians. That couldn’t be further from the truth.


What matters, though, is what we offer. About that, you couldn’t be more right.
Thank you for participating.


I’d like to thank each of my commenters this week, and all of my readers. Please feel free to leave a comment–positive or negative (but, preferably clean) whenever you feel so inclined.
Please, also, feel free to share any and all of what you find on Black and Red with anyone and everyone. You can find me on twitter (@blkandred) and the Facebook fan page is coming soon. Thank you for your support. Have a wonderful week!

Re: Hillary 2016

The worst kind of gaffe reinforces a negative stereotype about a candidate. Perhaps that explains the sting of the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Dogged by accusations of routinely making crass political calculations, revelations that Clinton kept a private email server while Secretary of State raised the collective eyebrows of her critics, including Republicans still in search of answers on the 9-11 Benghazi terror attacks. Clinton’s protracted silence on the matter further raised questions as to what she wanted kept from public view. After 2 weeks, she offered a rationale: “She told reporters that she hadn’t wanted to be weighed down by a second electronic device. It wasn’t secrecy that motivated her. It was purse space and pinkie strain,” Frank Bruni writes. Incredulity rises, and the scandal doubles as a gaffe.


Until that moment, I found myself at a loss for why this story refused to give way to anything else in the news. Congressional Republicans circumvent the President with a letter to Iran, but Hillary has two email addresses. What difference, at this point, does it make? The difference made is huge (politically).


More than substantiating suspicions that Clinton operates in a petty world of secret political calculations, the scandal raises questions about Clinton’s worthiness as a president altogether. Clinton owes her positive achievements to her husband’s clout–hardly a feminist success story. Left to her own abilities, though, she routinely fails to make sound judgments. One could say of Barack Obama, for example, that he lacked substance, but complemented that dearth by excelling on the campaign trail. Clinton’s inability to address what should have been a 2-day blip in the media demonstrates her fecklessness as a politician. Her public record similarly fails to inspire confidence.


Sean Trende writes my favorite piece on the scandal that encapsulates the gravity of the situation. Trende concludes that the Clinton email blunder reeks of hubris and political ineptitude–the same toxic combination of attributes that doomed her campaign more than 6 years ago. Absent a clear alternative to Clinton, Democrats have their 2016 presidential eggs in a fraying basket.

Ready for Hillary

Clinton’s appeal rests squarely on her sex, and she knows this. However, her credentials as a feminist icon pale in comparison to many lesser-known Democrat women– e.g. Elizabeth Warren. Clinton did not earn her political career, it was bestowed upon her by her more popular and charismatic husband, Bill. With that clout, she became the Senator from New York.


Her tenure in the Senate ranked as largely irrelevant. Considering her most defining vote as senator, though, that to authorize military action in Iraq, liberals would claim that she voted incorrectly. That performance notwithstanding, Clinton used the Senate seat (perhaps as she had always intended) to launch a bid for the Presidency.


In the primaries, Clinton struggled against a weak field. Her tribulations, including an embarrassing fabrication about a harrowing corkscrew landing in Bosnia, and a trope about being named for Sir Edmund Hillary, brought her to tears. In the end, she lost the nomination to a political unknown–who begrudgingly named her Secretary of State.


In this new role, Clinton oversaw the failed Russia “Reset,” the collapse of Egypt and Libya, the Benghazi terrorist attacks, Russian aggression, the rise of ISIS and countless failed policy initiatives in Europe and Asia. In short, her tenure at State was a failure.


Substantively and politically, Clinton represents a risky gambit for Democrats. Now, she’s the only viable Democrat choice for president, and gracelessly botching simple “crises” steals Joe Biden’s thunder (he may run for president again, too). Liberals, from Chris Matthews to Frank Bruni to Robert Gibbs, expressed their frustration with Clinton’s delayed and weak rationale for keeping a private email address. Beneath their groans lies a palpable fear. Even if this email scandal disappears (not likely after Clinton admitted to deleting more than 30,000 emails from the private server), she will have to dodge greater challenges if she wishes to win the nomination. That she can do either appears decreasingly likely.