I’m not sure where to start, but since everyone here is concerned about how GOP can reach out to the minority voters with a winning message that will resonate with them. So, that’s where I will start. I am one of few minority voters who voted for Romney.
Please allow me to explain a bit about myself. I am neither Hispanic, nor African-American; I am a culturally Deaf person. That means I was born deaf into a hearing family, attended a public school with a mainstreaming program for the deaf, then enrolled at a residential school for the deaf. My first language isn’t English, it’s American Sign Language (ASL). My alma mater is Gallaudet University, the only university for the deaf in the world. Some of you may have heard news regarding the latest controversy at Gallaudet University involving Dr. Angela McCaskill and her signature on the petition supporting the referendum on the same-sex marriage issue in Maryland. Many within Deaf GLBT community felt her signature was in direct conflict with her duties as the Chief Diversity Officer, which is what caused a major firestorm at Gallaudet University.
A majority of the culturally Deaf community usually votes with the Democratic Party. There is no statistical information on this minority group, but I’ve been around enough Deaf people to know that something like 80 or 90% of Deaf people will vote for a Democratic candidate no matter what. This is so despite the fact for many Deaf people, the most important legal document that protects their civil rights is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law by…a Republican President!
When I see some people here, especially Erick Erickson and other front-page contributors, talk about a need for conservatives and GOP to reach out to the minority voters, I will silently laugh in my heart and say, “Yeah, right!” I do not mean to mock fine people like Erick Erickson and others, it’s just that I am highly skeptical of either conservative or GOP efforts to win more minority voters. I have heard this before. And as matter of fact, I did speak out on this subject nearly four years ago. Don’t believe me? Then read my old diary here, it was written in January 2009. Did Erick Erickson or any other front-page contributors take note of my diary? I don’t know. I can’t answer that question, only they can.
For your reading pleasure, let me quote a few key paragraphs of my aforementioned diary:
Please bear with me for a moment. Go over to GOP website and look through multimedia stuff, and tell me if there is closed-captioning available on every video clip you can find. In fact, why don’t you check out House Republican leader John Boehner’s weekly radio address, and see if closed-captioning is provided here. That’s right, it’s not provided at all. Now, please hold your nose and click on the Democratic Party’s website, then click on President Obama’s weekly radio address. Make sure you click on the clip itself, it will open a new window to YouTube.com, which is a larger version of the same weekly radio address, but it provides closed-captioning feature.
Now, do you see the problem here? As a Deaf person, I must admit that President Obama has just won me over, never mind the fact his ideas and values are all out of alignment with conservative principles. To be sure, I would never support President Obama in any meaningful way, but stop and think about it. There is no good estimate of how many deaf and hard of hearing people live in America, but it is probable to say about 1% of US population is part of this category, which translates into about 3 or less million people (for a more in-depth analysis, here is the link). It is true not all of them are born deaf like me, many become deaf later in their lives. However, it is safe to say many deaf and hard of hearing people depend on closed-captioning to understand the speeches, dialogs, and sounds on TV, movies, and Internet.
The Democratic Party and President Obama is trying to reach every segment of our society in order to gain numbers and add some to their bases of support. Can anybody tell me why GOP isn’t doing that? Please don’t tell me it’s partly due out of ignorance and negligence, I don’t buy it. There is really no excuse for this kind of thing. While it is true ancedotically that the deaf and hard of hearing population tend to support Democrats in great numbers, we could make some inroads with this group if we only bothered to listen and provide some services to them.
Sadly, I see the same issue repeating itself nearly four years later. Dear Redstate, if you’re going to start preaching the message of reaching out to the minority voters, then please start at your own house. Otherwise, let me say this in the nicest way possible: shut up and sit down.
Look, I admire and support conservative values. I really do get it.
Free market economics always beat out socialist policies, I get it. I’m with y’all.
Life starts at human conception, and abortion is one of the worst evils out there, I get it.
We need a strong national defense, and cuts to the defense spending will hurt us, I get it.
We need to get debt and deficit spending under control, I get it. And so on.
You’ve already won me over on the conservative principles, but you suck at actually starting a conversation with a real, breathing minority voter. This is what I said in my old diary on this subject:
Look, when I argue with liberal supporters who are Deaf just like me, they often retort that as long Democratic Party provides closed-captioning services and is more receptive to Deaf and hard of hearing issues. Then what I can say to them? I can argue with them on economics, military, social programs, and a lot of stuff, but they will always trump me over the issue of who provides the most services, especially in the realm of communicating the ideas or messages to every segment of US population, not just to “normal” and “hearing” people only.
Guys, that is the real problem here. You’re not getting it. And I don’t doubt GOP isn’t getting it either.
I like President Barack Obama. He looks like a cool person. He even signed a few signs that would make many Deaf people very proud to have voted for him in 2008 and now. He seems like a sincere person. He’s a guy I might get comfortable writing with paper and pen back and forth. He understands me. He gets it. He wants to reach out to me, I felt as if he’s trying his best in reaching out to every segment of the voting public.
Do you get it? I sure hope so!
But Obama failed to win me over simply because I found his philosophy and liberal agenda to be vastly different from mine. But that’s like grinding out 3 or 5 yards a time on a 80-yard drive, and finally arriving at the goal line only to be stopped short of scoring a touchdown. That’s how I am feeling right now with Obama, he was close to scoring a touchdown with me. Unfortunately, most Deaf voters aren’t like me. They don’t usually vote on principle. They vote on whosoever can make them feel like at home.
I’m not saying you have to give everything the Deaf voters want, just like you shouldn’t give amnesty to the Hispanic voters. You just have to get to know them a little better, and find ways to meet their needs in some ways that doesn’t conflict with core conservative principles. Please pay attention and listen to what minority voters are saying out there, and don’t just preach the conservative message to them.
Thank you for reading my article.