CPAC Has Communications Issues With… A Lot Of People

Outreach efforts to women and minorities are pitiful.


You may have heard that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) happened, and the GOP is still trying to appear inclusive. To that end, there was a panel about outreach to minorities — “Reaching Out: The Rest of the Story” — in which a couple of panelists proceeded to insult the very people they were meant to reach out to.

According to Talking Points Memo, Jason Roe and Elroy Sailor said the problem Republicans have with attracting minority audiences is that they don’t offer “goodies” like Democrats.

“Our guys aren’t exactly in the offering goodies business so it’s harder for us to go in and say what can we do to help the African American experience,” said Sailor, who clearly had no business being on this panel.

Robert Woodson, an activist for low-income citizens and a person of color, jumped in to try and salvage the situation.

“It bothers me that people assume that lower income respond to gifts —food stamps or thing that will be given to them,” he said. “Nobody wants to be dependent so let’s assume that people want a hand up and not a hand down.”

Also, the room in which this all went down was the one above.

Sigh. It was a similar situation for women, with Gawker reporting that the crowds “thinned out” for the female speakers, though one panel did OK, “Why Conservatism Is Right for Women.”

The big takeaway from the outreach to women — Men shouldn’t make a joke of issues women care about.

Unfortunately, there were few women invited to speak on women’s issues, or any issues for that matter. The site says 78 percent of panelists were men and 21 percent were women. (No word on that last one percent?)

No doubt, Republicans of all stripes want to win elections. But the outreach that they’re doing is only lip service with the goal of achieving a vote rather than really connecting with people, understanding them, and hearing them. Another attendee, an African-American student, seemed to hit the nail on the head with this: “I think its [sic] mostly just because the conservative movement is very inward looking, in a sense, and a lot of people see the growing diversity and open-mindedness in society as a bad thing, sadly.”