The Conversation

On Rand Paul's Diversity Comments

Senator Rand Paul recently said something at the New Hampshire GOP's "Liberty Dinner" that has stirred some debate.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports:

He also said the GOP needs to improve from within if it hopes to reclaim the White House. "We need to grow bigger. If you want to be the party of white people, we're winning all the white votes," he said. "We're a diverse nation. We're going to win when we look like America."

In a sense, he makes a valid point. If the GOP wants to be successful in election seasons, it needs to win votes from women, men, Hispanic-Americans, Caucasians, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, young people, senior citizens--you name it. A successful party appeals to people of diverse groups, whether we're talking about gender, ethnicity, age, or otherwise.

It's not divisive to point that out; it's honest. Much like it's honest to acknowledge--as I have many times--that the GOP hasn't done proper outreach or marketing of issues for many years and has suffered as a result.

However, the more important point to be made has nothing to do with race. It has to do with ideas. The GOP is going to win when a) it consistently stands for ideas b) promotes those ideas via smart marketing and proper outreach and c) supports candidates who articulate those ideas well and have the "It" factor that, whether you like it or not, gets many people to listen to what they're saying in the first place.

When it comes to conservatism in particular, its biggest challenge is that, for many, the ideals of personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, and limited government simply aren't appealing these days. That's the truth. It's not about race; many people (of all races) have simply come to prefer big government with all its promises.

So, if you want to win elections, it's not just about articulating your vision; it's about changing hearts and minds. That's very hard work. It means stepping away from preach-to-the-choir techniques. It means a willingness to hear people's concerns, rather than shout about how you're right and they're wrong. And it means talking to people who disagree with you without name-calling or other childish nonsense that may win you points with your "team," but will inspire absolutely no one on the other "team" (or in the middle) to hop on over to your side.

So, if the conversation is about winning, let's have it. But let's be honest. For me, that conversation shouldn't be about race. Rand Paul, do you agree with me?

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila 

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