Kathleen Parker on Race and the Republicans

Kathleen Parker wrote a column lamenting the Republican party’s lack of racial diversity. I don’t have any quarrel with her thesis — I’d like the party to do a better job of attracting blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, too — but I found one remark of Parker’s puzzling.

Republicans can honestly boast of having once been the party of firsts. The first Hispanic, African American, Asian American and Native American in the Senate were all Republicans. But that was before the GOP went south, banished its centrists and embraced social conservatives in a no-exit marriage.

In 90 percent of political commentary, the phrase “social conservatives” means people who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. Hispanics have been slightly more likely, and blacks much more likely, to be social conservatives by this definition. Social conservatism polls better among both groups than does economic conservatism.

The Republican party’s notable minority stars, some of them mentioned in Parker’s column, are slightly more likely to be socially conservative (again using the standard definition) than white Republican officeholders. There are a lot of reasons Republicans tend to do badly among minority groups. If there’s any evidence that the party’s social conservatism is one of them, I haven’t seen it.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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