The soul searching that follows presidential elections often produces some valuable insights. Too bad they are usually quickly forgotten and people revert to their entrenched ideas. But the critical role of Hispanic, African-American and Asian voters may have some staying power in the parties’ political equations.
New York Times columnist David Brooks tried to find a summary in his column today. Brooks writes the conservative…
… worldview is innately suspicious of government. Its adherents generally believe in the equation that more government equals less individual and civic vitality. … During the 2012 campaign, Republicans kept circling back to the spot where government expansion threatens personal initiative…
But, each year, there are more Americans whose cultural roots lie elsewhere. Each year, there are more people from different cultures, with different attitudes toward authority, different attitudes about individualism, different ideas about what makes people enterprising.
The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites.
Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it.
Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.
Brooks column provoked this response from one reader…
Why David, it almost sounds as if you are asking the GOP to embrace the work of (gasp!) community organizers! You’re suggesting that they find people who “go out with notebooks and study specific, grounded everyday problems: what exactly does it take these days to rise?
The new found importance of the Hispanic, African-American, Asian voter has a lot of people interested in their concerns and motivates. That is a good thing. But can the people who want their vote actually listen and advocate solutions that address their needs?