At every Republican National Convention a woman or minority will deliver a prime-time speech in which he or she will attribute his or her success to merit and not race or gender. I was a delegate to the 1984 convention and the keynote speech was delivered by Katherine Ortega, an Hispanic woman and holder of a minor federal office, U.S. Treasurer (not to be confused with Secretary of the Treasury). Nobody remembers her or her speech today, and rightly so. She was an insignificant public official reading from a teleprompter. But at the time, she was given the impossible task of drawing attention to her ethnicity/gender while declaring it had nothing to do with her rise.
In 2000 Condoleeza Rice, then the highest profile black woman in the party said this in her prime-time convention speech: "I found a party [the Republicans] that sees me as an individual, not as part of a group." No she didn't. She was up there, in part, because of her race and gender.
That aspiration for colorblindness might be a good message for a party convention, but it is not part of the day-to-day Republican message. Instead, Republicans constantly pander to win over Hispanics, Jews and other minorities. Why else is there so much speculation about Sen. Marco Rubio as a vice presidential running mate? Does anyone really believe he would be under consideration if he were non-Hispanic? Isn't he being groomed for the presidency because of his membership in a racial group? Similarly, we have the spectacle of Republicans highlighting Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico. What has she done to make her mark? Is she any more qualified than Sarah Palin?
On the other hand, after decades of failure, Republicans have apparently ceased pandering to blacks. This spectacle took us from Sen. Edward Brooke, a nominal Republican who while being the only black member of the U.S. Senate for 12 years, made no discernible difference in black voting patterns. There were also bombastic flame outs like Alan Keyes, who lost U.S. Senate elections in two states and even ran for the presidential nomination. He too brought no new blacks into the Republican party electorate. Herman Cain ran for the nomination this year, declaring blacks should be Republicans. There is still no evidence in polls that he interested any blacks in voting Republican.
The Republican Party has an official "Jewish Coalition". One would think the actual message of the Republican party vis a vis Israel would be enough. Everyone knows the Republicans are more pro-Israel than the Democrats. Why pander with a party-sanctioned group? And what evidence is there that the pandering works? Republicans never come close to winning the Jewish vote. And there is a very good reason for this. Jews are generally liberals, and blacks are generally liberals, and Hispanics are generally liberals, too. Yes, there are many exceptions, but by and large that's the lay of the political landscape. And part of being a political conservative is recognizing that there are complex reasons why people and the groups they belong to are they way they are, and these complexities cannot be changed.
So Republicans, be true to your principles and stop pandering. Romney can put the Hispanic of his choice on the ticket, and he will not win the Hispanic vote. And this is as it should be. People don't appreciate being pandered to, as we are reminded every four years at the Republican conventions.
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