DIVERSITY: AN ANCIENT WOODEN SHIP

Posted in Election 2012 on September 11th, 2012 by Ed

You're already aware that Bill Bennett is a stupid person, but he nonetheless manages to write things on a regular basis that make one step back and think, "Wow, Bill Bennett, you are a very stupid person." During the GOP Convention he wrote what I can only describe as a piece of blatant FJM bait, but it was too repetitive and silly to earn the honor. You see, Bill Bennett watched the Convention and walked away impressed at the diversity of the Republican Party.

I'll give you a second to collect yourselves. Then I'll be cruel and destroy your fragile equilibrium by subjecting you to his words:

When the Republican National Convention kicks off this week in Tampa, Florida, the nation will notice one thing before anything else: This is not your father's or grandfather's Republican Party. Rather, it's a party with leaders as diverse as the country it intends to represent.

Do you need another moment? Raise your hand if you did not think the phrase "not your father's Republican Party" was going to appear in the first paragraph.

Bennett listlessly rattles off some of the non-white convention speakers totally unaware of how much it makes him sound like an old white guy saying, "Look! We found a black!" With zero self awareness, Bennett does not appear to grasp how sad it is that the party had to drag out the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah because that is the highest position held by a black woman in the party. As for black men, well, they're not stupid enough to let Allen West go out there. In hindsight, I'm shocked that he didn't volunteer to sit in the chair for Eastwood. Might have helped Romney's numbers with African-Americans, currently hovering at statistical zero.

Despite the fact that Romney is doing terribly among women, Latinos, and basically anything that isn't White Guys and old people, the GOP has a some members from those demographics to bring out at convention time – a few female governors and some Teabagger-friendly Hispanic elected officials (or candidates like Ted Cruz). So yes, Bill Bennett is technically correct. The GOP speaker lineup featured more diversity than one might expect.

This is impressive only if you are someone (not unlike Bill Bennett) who doesn't understand the difference between diversity and tokenism, between a fairly representative cross-section of the party and a veneer painted on the outside of the box for the TV cameras. He correctly notes that there were more Hispanic speakers than usual, but how influential are they in the party? Are these Republican leaders who happen to be Hispanic or are they just whatever Hispanics the GOP could find? With an immigration policy to the right of the average drunken border militia, it's not like the party is actually doing anything to appeal to Hispanic voters. The same could be said of the female speakers. There are no women in leadership roles within the party or among Republicans in Congress. There are four female Republican Governors, one of whom (Jan Brewer) appears to normal people to be quite mentally ill. Again, the distinction between tokenism and diversity appears lost on Bennett.

The speaker list can be touted from here until kingdom come, but the pure, blinding Christian Whiteness of the convention audience says everything about a party that has shot itself in the foot with Hispanics by repeatedly appealing to anti-immigrant and nativist sentiments, done more to alienate women than the entire world supply of Tapout t-shirts, and has all the diversity of a modern soft drink commercial. That is, its "diversity" is superficial, heavily staged, and ultimately unconvincing. Any organization can comb its ranks from top to bottom and find an African-American woman or a few Hispanic people somewhere. Are they actually representative of the population within the group? Are they persons of legitimate influence and importance or were they trotted out by the old, white, male-dominated party leadership specifically so that the party did not look like the old, white sausagefest that it is? Rather than being pleased with its Potemkin Village of Diversity, the Party might want to worry that Romney's 25% support among Hispanics is the lowest for a Republican in 20 years, Obama's 20 point lead among women in key swing states, and the party's continued inability to appeal to any demographic that isn't shrinking rapidly with each passing year.