So much of politics is based on perception. In regards to race relations, the perception is that the Democrats are more color-conscious in their policies while Republicans are more color-blind in theirs; I know that this is an over simplification of each political party, but that’s the general consensus. When you consider just the lens of race in politics, those who are ethnic minorities generally support the Democrats more than Republicans, thus it seems that Democrats will then support them in legislation.
Because of those overriding perceptions, I think that what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was doing when speaking to Howard University (Slate), a Historically Black College, and at the University of California, Berkeley, (SFGate.com) a bastion of liberal politics, was admirable. Of course, he got a lot of flak because he seemed like he could be insincere…I definitely disagree with that assessment with him because at least he’s doing it, unlike other GOP politicians. Usually the politicians go to the “minority organizations” right before election and say that they’ll do something for them. I think that Sen. Paul is at least trying, and is trying to actively go to those groups to listen to them. Of course, part of it is because it may be good optics, but I’ll take that any time over just brushing past them until you need them politically. I give him kudos for that.
That’s why when I read in Cesar Vargas’ and Erika Andiola’s POLITICO Magazine article the explanation of their encounter (RealClearPolitics), or in this case, their missed encounter, with Sen. Paul, I had to (reluctantly) agree with them. It was simply amazing to see him go to audiences that only Democratic candidates would have talked, but it was disappointing to see him run away from those who came to speak with him. The sentence “[t]hough it was easy for Paul to flee, it won’t be as easy to avoid Latino voters in 2016, assuming he wants to be president” could not be more true. A half-ass explanation is not gonna be good enough (Huffington Post).
If he want to not only seem, but also genuinely be, concerned about the plight of those who are ethnic minorities, he’s got to, at the very least, listen to them, all of them – really, all of us.