It is no secret at all that the key to the growth of the Republican Party is to engage minorities. With shifting demographics and a growing minority population, the GOP is pressed to make changes in their outreach efforts or simply become a party of isolation.
While the thought of many on the right may have been “Well they’re not going to vote for us anyway,” there have been some who sought to eradicate this foolish notion.
I can personally testify to the fact that Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) gets what minority engagement is all about. He received my church’s invitation to come and participate in our “Community Day” on Sunday, September 21, 2014.
It is pretty obvious that this event was planned months in advance in order to make preparations for the occasion. When it was first announced to the congregation that the Governor was paying a visit, there was a combination of awe and disbelief. Quite frankly, there were several who thought there was no way the governor was going to come to our small, but growing church.
But to the surprise of some, the governor came, along with his wife, Mrs. Sandra Deal. The First Lady of Georgia read to the children’s Sunday School class and later joined her husband in the main worship service.
Towards the conclusion of the service, Gov. Deal spoke of the importance of criminal justice reform. The topic of how to continually prevent African-American men and women from living life within the confines of a jail cell resonated very well amongst the predominately black audience.
The main point is not Deal’s willingness to talk about criminal justice reform, even though that was good and beneficial. The simple fact is that he showed up. The GOP must realize that their mere presence speaks volumes.
Minorities want candidates and politicians to know that they do not want pandering or special treatment, but to simply be acknowledged. Do not get me wrong. There are heavy issues that effect the minority community such as unemployment,jobs, education, and others, but these issues cannot be conveyed unless there are people who are willing to listen. In order to listen, you must be present.
Gov. Deal understands minority engagement. He knows that engaging is simply not making a campaign promise or acknowledging minorities in a speech, but that it requires for you to go to where they are.
I cannot predict how many of our church members will vote for Gov. Deal. That’ll be decided in the voting booth. What I can say confidently is that the governor taking time out of his schedule to engage our church was the genesis of a fruitful relationship, and there were quite a few who were willing to lend a listening ear. If Gov. Deal can do this, so can any other conservative.