Politico notes today that the 2008 victory of President Obama is not opening up the floodgates for other black candidates, as evidenced by Artur Davis’s loss in the Alabama gubernatorial primary this week. Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams, who finished third in seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor, says that in addition to concerns from Democrat activists over whether black candidates can win general elections, ideology plays a big part:
“I think the Obama era has actually transcended race. Not to say people don’t have biases — of course they exist, they exist in every state,” [Williams] said. “The question I got was, ‘Are you an Obama Democrat’ in regard to spending, not in regard to race.”
This may be why, despite these troubles on the Democratic side, Republicans are enjoying historic highs (for them) in minority and women candidates. It also suggests the opening of another interesting door.
The rise of the conservative movement was based in part on the growth of thought leadership organizations, chiefly in the 1960s and 1970s. Institutions like National Review and the Heritage Foundation built the pillars of conservative thought upon which electoral and policy successes were built. They were crystallizing – and making palatable – the ideas that candidates and lawmakers would later use.
Today’s challenge for the conservative movement goes beyond establishing a foothold for these ideas in the general electorate. Today’s challenge is to expand the audiences that are receptive to those messages. It’s not enough for the Republican Party to recruit leaders from minority communities, think tanks and thought leaders must do so as well.
(Word has it that Marvel Comics has already started.)