A new conservative movement must embrace voting rights for Black and Brown people
OPINION: Voting rights is a moral issue. It's time for conservatives to move away from the Party of Trump and appeal to younger voters and voters of color.
Everyone keeps asking if the modern-day Republican Party, otherwise known as the Party of Trump, can be fixed or saved — the answer is no.
The more important question, however, for me as a once moderate Republican woman of color is: Can a new Republican Party, a new conservative movement, return to the core values of the once great Party of Lincoln? I say yes.
The recent opinion piece penned by former Vice President Mike Pence in Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal slamming HR1 is nothing more than a dog whistle message to Trump supporters that he will continue the “big lie” that somehow the 2020 election was rife with fraud and voting irregularities, and that election reform should not include protecting the voting rights of Black and Brown voters.
This should come as no surprise to anyone. This is the modern GOP’s playbook. It is all they have left. They are a shrinking, conspiracy-driven party of mostly white anger and grievance. That’s not me being dismissive; I grew up with working-class whites my entire life. My parents were working-class Blacks. This mythological wedge that the GOP has created between Black and white people in our country is sad because the reality is that we have much more in common than we do not.
Pence knows — as does Kevin McCarthy in the House and Mitch McConnell in the Senate — that their best chance of winning back control in the 2022 midterm elections is to shut down as many Black, brown and independent voters as they can to keep the electorate more white, more conservative and much smaller.
To be clear, the Trump-Republican party is not mine. Nor will it ever be. I am part of a large group of centrist, moderate conservatives, populist former Republicans (you will hear from us all soon in a big way) who have been quietly planning for months how we are going to create a new brand of 21st-century conservatism and appeal to younger voters, voters of color, blue-collar voters, and the all-important suburban mom swing vote.
If we are serious about this endeavor we must create a new kind of conservatism that is what I call “collective conservatism.” This includes policies that work for all of us and not just some of us. Policies that embrace the idea that government should be smaller, and less burdensome, but that government does have a role in the lives of Americans. Policies that embrace the idea there is a place for faith, values and God in the public square, but that if we truly embrace liberty and natural law (rights granted to man only by God himself) then we have to respect the liberty of others and their choices. Not just our own.
This new kind of conservatism understands that the old Jack Kemp (my political hero), Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush conservatism that attracted my generation (Gen X) to politics is dead. It has run its course.
Nobody wants to hear about tax cuts, trickle-down, pull yourself up by your own boot-straps economics, family values (the GOP lost the right to ever discuss that again after embracing Donald Trump), pro-life, pro-death penalty, pro-gun, anti-LGBTQ, anti-environmental regulations policies anymore.
Although tens of millions of Americans still favor many of those policies (I am one of them), the tide has changed and great political leaders embrace change and they adapt — and then they lead.
What has to happen on voting rights is that we as new conservatives need to understand that this is a moral issue that dates back to the United States’ founding. The issue of voting rights starts with the 15th Amendment giving Black men the right to vote in the late 1800s, and it continued another 100 years of Jim Crow laws until President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We must be unequivocal that blocking, limiting or making the right to vote for any American more difficult is wrong and is unacceptable.
Sure, we can and should debate what election integrity looks like in America. None of us is against that. But what we should all be against is what the Republican attorney who argued for proposed voting restrictions in Arizona before the Supreme Court.
When Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Michael A. Carvin, “What’s the interest of the Arizona RNC here in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct ballot disqualification rules on the books?” Mr. Carvin replied: “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game.”
Mr. Carvin is sadly mistaken. Times have changed. The people are paying attention. And the Republican-led assault on the rights of women and people of color is up. What we as principled new conservatives must do is take some of our core principles and apply them to the 21st century, majority female, diverse workforce, demographically changed America, and forge a new hopeful, aspirational, policy-focused politics that is based in reality — not in QAnon, lies, Dr. Seuss cancel culture fantasies.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!