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GOP and identity politics in the black community

— The Republican Party continues to miss the mark when it comes to engaging the black community.

For those Republicans, who fastidiously claim they don’t believe in “identity politics (IP),” let me give you a piece of advice: Stop It!

Politically speaking, IP is a campaign based on the particular needs of a specific group of people that will give them the rationale or incentive to vote for your candidate.

For example, a Republican candidate would campaign in the black community on issues like entrepreneurship, civil rights, voting rights, etc.; whereas the same candidate might campaign in the Hispanic community on issues like entrepreneurship, immigration and cultural assimilation.

Far too many Republicans assert that “we are all Americans and all want the same things: jobs, education, safe neighborhoods, etc.” This is all true, but a ridiculously bland message when it comes to outreach in the black community.

While core messaging should be a constant for all candidates, the way you communicate that message has to be crafted based on the audience you are addressing.

In business, we call this market segmentation. This is most often done with the S-T-P approach; which is segmentation, targeting and positioning. Once you segment the voters, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc., you then create a targeted campaign to speak directly to each individual group; finally, you position your messaging in a way that will resonate with that group.

McDonald’s is a classic example. Their objective is to sell their Big Macs to the American people, so their TV commercials are all trying to convince the country to buy their product, but they also are smart enough to use IP or market segmentation to achieve their stated objective— selling more hamburgers.

So, it makes all the sense in the world for McDonald’s to use black actors when advertising on BET and Hispanic actors when advertising on Univision. This is the commercial application of identity politics.

When have you ever seen men selling women undergarments in Victoria Secrets commercials? That’s right, you haven’t.

Republicans have become so data driven that they no longer have any vision.

It’s not enough for Republicans to reflexively spout out buzz words and phrases like: “We are the big tent party”; “the party of Abraham Lincoln”; “We believe in lower taxes, smaller government, more individual freedom,” yada, yada, yada.

Republicans must first and foremost persuade blacks that conservatism is not incompatible with civil rights, voting rights and equal opportunity, but rather these issues are a fundamental part of conservatism.

Republicans must, by their actions, demonstrate that black businesses tend to flourish when Republicans control the levers of government compared to when Democrats are in power.

I wrote about this, in 2012, in a piece for Black Enterprise. Democrats and the Obama Administration have done very little for black-owned businesses over the last eight years.

Republicans have a huge opportunity to engage directly with the black community on the specific issue of entrepreneurship. Not only are these black businessmen fervent supporters of abolishing the capital gains tax, accelerated depreciation (writing off all capital purchases in year one), and lowering the corporate tax rate, but they also want to be relieved of all the onerous regulations imposed on them by Obama’s reign of terror on small and minority businesses.