Here’s What A Conservative Minority Outreach Event Looks Like

CPAC-goers prove GOP doesn't really care about 'minority outreach'.

CPAC hosted a panel on minority outreach, however, most attendees missed that, proving that conservatives and the GOP don’t care about minorities. Photo by John Hudak from the Brookings Institute via Twitter.

CPAC is in full swing, hosting a range of conservative speakers and holding discussion panels on various situations facing the GOP. On Thursday, CPAC hosted a panel on minority outreach. The panel consisted of conservative strategists Jason Roe, Elroy Sailor and Robert Woodson, along with Virginia Senate candidate Ed Gillespie. There was just one problem: The ballroom was nearly empty.

Missed opportunity at CPAC.

John Hudak, Fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute, took a picture of the empty ballroom at CPAC about 10 minutes into the panel. He said that it was a missed opportunity for CPAC attendees, because it addressed a very crucial question: “How do we grow our ranks in areas where we traditionally underperform?”

Here’s the tweet:

John Hudak's Tweet: Big problem for GOP. Most important #CPAC2014 Panel. Topic: minority outreach. View: largely empty room.

John Hudak’s Tweet: Big problem for GOP. Most important #CPAC2014 Panel. Topic: minority outreach. View: largely empty room.

These areas are the minority vote, the women’s vote, and the young adult vote. The CPAC diversity panel was addressing minorities, particularly. Hudak mentioned that the panel thinks conservatives need to change how they talk about their ideals, and change to whom they speak those ideals. They do not need to change their values to reach minorities.

They have no real ground in minority neighborhoods. They keep insisting to minorities that the Democrats hand them money and food and phones because, in keeping people down, they keep them dependent on the government. Free things make people vote Democratic. That doesn’t resonate with minorities at all, and yet, conservatives keep pushing it.

The GOP has failed repeatedly at minority outreach.

According to an article in The Wire, Republicans keep saying they’ll work harder on minority outreach, and in reality, they keep not caring at all. They’ve “tried” several approaches. Everything they’ve tried, however, has been half-hearted, and a complete failure.

In fact, the article makes note of how support for Obama went up to 59% in the black community after he said he was in favor of LGBT rights and marriage equality. So trying to push the “family values” angle at minorities will hurt the GOP.

Conservatives attending CPAC didn’t want to hear the diversity panel.

What’s even more telling than the empty CPAC ballroom is that it filled up toward the end of the diversity panel discussion, according to Hudak. That wasn’t because people were truly interested in diversity, and just late. It was because the panel ran over its time, and people were flooding in to see the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, who was scheduled to speak right after the diversity panel finished.

Why is that telling? Because it shows that those who attend CPAC don’t care about many of the deeper, more complex issues facing our country. LaPierre railed against the media for whitewashing the dishonesty rampant in our government. And, of course, he said the media has never been honest about the NRA. He thinks the media hates the NRA because they stand up for what they believe in.

Rand Paul’s speech on Friday got a standing-room-only audience. He railed against the NSA’s surveillance program to rousing applause, saying that he (and the GOP) will not let Obama shred the Constitution.

While these are important issues, the fact that the GOP has a serious problem with outreach has never been more evident. CPAC should have been the place to bring that into the open, and possibly where they could start coming up with a real plan. Instead, all the empty ballroom showed was that conservatives just don’t care about minorities.