Racism Rebranding

The Pander Bear

Judging based on this profile of the RNC’s diversity problem from McKay Coppins, preventing elected Republicans and Republican candidates from saying out loud the insensitive things swirling in their heads is only the start.

One former RNC field staffer, who is Hispanic, described a culture of cynicism among his predominantly white colleagues when it came to minority outreach. He said that in his office, whenever they were notified of a new Republican outreach effort, they would pass around a Beanie Baby — which they had dubbed the “pander bear” — and make fun of the “tokenism.”

“Any kind of racially specific campaign activity was often treated with skepticism by white staffers,” he said.

He also recalled a Mitt Romney rally last year featuring Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, during which the staffer and his coworkers were tasked with finding Hispanics in the crowd who they could place on stage for the benefit of the TV cameras. It’s a common, bipartisan practice in campaign politics — but one that his colleagues resented.

It’s as if the raison d’être of working for a Republican campaign is to be exclusive rather than inclusive, or at least that appears to be what attracts a segment of conservative campaign staffers.

The idea that most of the party’s problems are centered around their policy and the delivery of it may be something we take for granted as fellow citizens because it obscures the very ugly culture at play at the base level of their organization. An ugly culture that may trickle up more than it trickles down.

Even if they manage to train their representatives to sensor their speech — or alter the tenor of their policy — it won’t be enough because the typecast of persons attracted to Republican campaigns is not something they can change without ceasing to be the Republican party. You can’t change a culture overnight.

The Republican party may not be racist, but it’s number one with racists. And that may not change in our lifetimes.

  • D_C_Wilson

    Pander Bear?

    Sounds like something Mitt has tattooed on his ass.

  • muselet

    The pander bear. Good grief.

    Could the Rs be any less sensitive? Or less clever?