In her recent blog post, “A Pandering Rant”, (http://lisbethcarter.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/a-pandering-rant/) Liz Carter asks why Republicans continue to pander to race and gender. She never really answers the question, but as advertised in the title of her post, she rants. As she should. She makes a number of valid points, not the least of which is that Republicans should talk about values and principals as a means of attracting voters.
But back to the original question of why Republicans pander to race and gender. It’s largely because they’ve succumbed to target marketing, in the belief that a program that effectively sells products and services is equally effective in attracting voters. What they’ve missed is that target marketing is designed to address the needs and wants of the target group, and that only a limited number of those wants and needs are race or gender dependent.
In politics, conventional wisdom holds that members of all minorities are disenfranchised to a lesser or greater degree and consequently want government to level the playing field by compensating them. The natural response of anyone who accepts this “wisdom” is to assume that pandering to minorities is the best method of gaining their support, because each member of a particular minority has the same wants and needs. And to some degree that’s true; numerous politicians have supported minority-oriented entitlement programs as a means of acquiring votes.
But those politicians are almost exclusively Democrats, who are successful because their pandering to minorities is all but undetectable; they pander to their entire voter base. Virtually every social program in the Democrat repertoire incorporates some form of entitlement. As such, Democrats risk alienating each of their core groups, minority or otherwise, if they don’t have an entitlement program for that group. By pandering to all, they’re perceived as pandering to none.
Although that sounds like a condemnation of the Democrat agenda, it’s simply an observation. As exemplified by recent legislation, the liberal philosophy is to invoke government regulation and attendant provisioning for all but the elite who govern. Voters who accept this philosophy clearly believe government should take care of—and pander to their every want and need.
The Republican agenda of less government, fiscal conservatism and individual opportunity is neither race- nor gender-based and voters who accept this philosophy clearly believe that government should not take care of their every want and need. Pandering won’t change that.