Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan!

“If you believe that trying what we’ve already tried and didn’t work is worth trying again… that’s your choice.” –Barack Obama

I’d have done it sooner, but President Obama added more debt in 3 years than his 43 predecessors combined.

First off, a hearty congrats to Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) for receiving the nod to join the GOP ticket. I can’t wait for the spirited attacks from totally-not-the-Obama-campaign left-wing Super PACs accusing him of conspiring to starve children, enslave women, torture grandma, and any other fair and accurate criticisms. In making this pick, Gov. Romney has jumped whole hog into a campaign centered on competing visions for the future of civilization, as opposed to merely running as the Anti-Obama. This is the riskier but better choice, and it should help us avoid the despair event horizon of an incorrigibly negative campaign. The American people deserve a serious conversation, and Paul Ryan will make for a great leader in it. That said…

As should surprise no sapient persons, the Obama people are already attacking Ryan’s first budget with vicious aplomb. Of course, we all know that Ryan has also sponsored bipartisan legislation to improve Medicare and ensure its viability. But that’s far too inconvenient a fact for the president’s surrogates. Speaking of budgets, I can’t wait for somebody to ask the president why we have gone more than three years without one. Obviously he has a good reason, or else he wouldn’t be highlighting such a glaring personal weakness to fight a man who at least attempted to do his job. I guess time will tell.

And in case you’re wondering whether a charming Midwestern budget wonk has the experience and wherewithal to be president, just remember: the alternative is a community organizer. At the top of the ticket. You’re welcome.

For some closing treats, Paul Ryan has a new VP Twitter account and Facebook page. More importantly, in case you missed it, the aspiring young veep is also a meme!

These next few months will be fun.


Dispatches from Dixie: La Vota Diversa

On the eve of the Olympics and conventions there is rampant speculation about the tight-lipped Republican veepstakes. Like most people outside the Romney High Command, I haven’t the foggiest. But there’s one point I must stress to the Marco Rubio camp: he won’t win over the Latino vote.

What do you mean I can’t speak for all Hispanic voters in America?

First, many people happily vote across ethnic lines. Michael Steele lost the black vote in his Senate race in Maryland, as Alan Keyes did before him. In Tennessee, Rep. Steve Cohen—white and Jewish—easily overcame well-financed and well-connected black, Christian opponents three times to date in a Democratic district that is overwhelmingly black and Christian. Moreover, Gene Green (white), Maxine Waters (black), and Jody Chu (Asian) are immensely successful in predominantly Hispanic districts.

In 2008, I opposed then-Sen. Obama precisely because I thought him an inferior candidate. (And he has done a remarkable job governing down to my expectations.) While a lot of folks (mostly Democrats) were openly baffled by this, I knew many black people who felt the same and campaigned accordingly. Indeed, Obama was losing black voters to Hillary Clinton until he started getting national traction after his Iowa victory.

Put simply, most voters care about much more than race or ethnicity.

Secondly, Hispanics are not monolithic. Distinct from the Southwest, many Florida Latinos are Cuban (like Rubio) or Puerto Rican, and both groups are, by definition, in the U.S. legally. Not coincidentally, only in Florida—where political concerns branch far beyond immigration—do Hispanics tend to vote Republican.

If Mitt Romney wants to win over Hispanic voters nationally, he needs more than a young, charismatic freshman Senator on the ticket. (The electorate is probably leery enough of those by now.) Without pandering—nobody likes condescension—he must persuade Hispanic businessmen, teachers, blue-collar workers, professionals, and young people that his governing agenda will work for them. This will be difficult to do without addressing the issue in which many Hispanics—even in Florida—are disproportionately invested: immigration reform.

Rep. David Rivera, another Florida Republican, was well aware of this reality when he proposed his conservative alternative to the Dream Act ahead of Rubio’s version. Previously, George W. Bush likewise made resolving immigration issues central to his Hispanic outreach. Governor Bush won 40% of Hispanic voters in Texas in 1998; President Bush won a comparable proportion across America in 2004.

For now, President Obama has a staggering lead among Hispanics and a popular new immigration policy to boot. But the race is still the Republicans’ to lose. It’ll be up to Governor Romney to change the narrative.