- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2013

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. | Desperate to reverse a quarter-century death spiral with minority voters and restore the grass-roots decision-making that many here feel Mitt Romney undermined in 2012, Republican National Committee members will take on both issues at their spring meeting here this week.

RNC officials will take yet another shot at analyzing why Hispanics, Asians and blacks went overwhelmingly for President Obama in November and have become almost totally unresponsive to GOP “outreach” tactics.

These tactics have been based on the belief that many Hispanic, Asian-American and culturally conservative black voters share the GOP’s core principles of self-reliance, limited government, opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and opposition to the decriminalization of marijuana and other recreational drugs.

A few GOP voices have begun to question these assumptions, arguing that many Asian immigrants come from cultures with paternalistic, top-down traditions of governance and that Hispanics have no history of conservatism or of conservative political figures anywhere south of the border.

These emerging voices, like those of Carlo Maffat and Niger Innis, founders of Grass Roots Strategies, say the GOP must first find ways to inform Hispanics, for example, about the advantages to them of the party’s message of limited government.

The struggle over policy, strategy and message — with harsh accusations flying back and forth since February — will pit establishment Republicans against grass-roots conservatives on the RNC, which has gradually grown more conservative over the last 30 years.

An estimated 130 of its 168 members – elected by GOP central committees in 50 states and five territories – now are philosophical conservatives. As such, they oppose the top-down establishment rule that GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg and other Romney emissaries wrote into the party’s rules at the 2012 presidential nominating convention.

The conservative RNC majority is also steaming over the recent 2012 election party “autopsy” that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus commissioned, an analysis that floated the idea that the party consider dropping its opposition to same-sex marriage and narrow other ideological differences with Democrats. Mr. Priebus‘ disavowal of many of those findings and his pledge of continued support of traditional values so far have succeeded somewhat in turning down the heat from conservatives.

Engaging minorities

On effectively engaging minorities — Asian-Americans have replaced Hispanics as the fastest growing group in the U.S. — some RNC members are expected to propose that fellow committee members who are actually immigrants from China or some other Asian nations should head up an Asian engagement section of the RNC. Where possible, Asian-Americans should be field representatives in their own minority communities.

Kansas RNC member Helen Van Etten, an immigrant from Taiwan, cited the party’s habit of creating an Asian campaign committee every four years, then abandoning it after every presidential election.

“We need to build a long-term political infrastructure,” Mrs. Van Etten said. “We are fighting a 24/7 warfare for the next four years, not a two-month warfare every four years.”

Simply naming Asians to high-profile federal jobs doesn’t do the trick either.

“It doesn’t translate into showing we care about Asian issues like reverse discrimination because Asians score so well on entrance exams,” she said.

Shawn Steel, an RNC member from California — home to the highest concentration of Asian and Hispanic voters — joked that “we need to embrace spicy food and drop the phony ‘outreach’ of the past.”

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