Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Time for an Urban Agenda, GOP!

The South Los Angeles-Inglewood Republican Assembly has formed in the heart of deep blue Los Angeles County.

While Republican leaders and armchair consultants kept declaring that African-Americans belong in the GOP, a group of dedicated conservatives started reaching out and getting a California Republican Assembly unit started in the regions of LA with larger black communities.

Forty people have formed the group, which was officially recognized by a unanimous vote.

There are interested people out there who want to hear about liberty and prosperity.

They know that there is more to life than barely getting by on bad credit deals and keeping one's head above water. They want to move on up, to the deluxe apartments in the sky. Todd Blair, Founding President of the Torrance-Lomita Republican Assembly heeded the call of his local church and sought to deliver the message of hope and grace to other communities, ones where Republicans tend to drive by and not look back, in his words.

Republican party leaders have all but given up on the urban core. Riding high on suburban and rural voters for decades, the dilapidation of the cities was not the prime concern for outrage. Those dynamics need to change, and not just for scoring political points, Blair told me.

Every American deserves an opportunity afforded in the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Not poverty, disease, and dependence on the government.

It's time for a clear-cut urban agenda, GOP!

Let's start with a great yet  much-neglected idea, promoted by the late, great Jack Kemp, Congressman from New York and later Vice Presidential candidate on the 1996 ticket, and the better of the ticket, if I may add.

Public Housing to Private Ownership

He suggested allowing tenants in public housing learn and receive training and assistance to purchase their own homes. The New York Times wrote about it, and included the profile of a lady living in public housing, who had no problem being used because she knew that she was using Republicans like Jack Kemp and his ideas to own her own home.

People who own their own property tend to treat it better, maintain it, and thus pay attention to their neighborhoods. Families, communities, and entire cities can prosper when ownership and investment mean more to people than just barely getting by.

Investment and Business Creation in Inner Cities

Homeboy Ministries is the prime example of this reform. Father Gregory Boyle works with former gang members and ex-cons, gets them off the street, into the workforce, and helps them become entrepreneurs. People need guidance and  mentoring, not neglect and reproach.

From the website:

Homeboy Industries traces its roots to “Jobs For A Future” (JFF), a program created in 1988 by Fr. Greg at Dolores Mission parish. In an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Fr. Greg and the community developed positive alternatives, including establishing an elementary school, a day care program and finding legitimate employment for young people. JFF’s success demonstrated the model followed today that many gang members are eager to leave the dangerous and destructive life on the 'streets.'

Jobs and education. Wow! What a concept. Boyle invested in the areas, helping troubled inner-city youth go from gang-banging to profit-margins, the legal and profitable way.

School Choice

Before jobs, there is education. Many inner city kids fear going to school or even exceling because of peer pressure and bullying. Charter schools are opening doors for young people to learn about free markets, free enterprise, and the liberty of time and effort investing into a long and prosperous future.

Allow inner city kids the opportunity to find other schooling better places. Vouchers in inner cities would be a move in the right direction, too.

Pension/Labor Reforms

A number of cities are run (or overrun) by public sector unions. The employees did not have a choice whether to join or not, and many times they witness money taken from their paycheck in agency fees. Why not offer higher salaries to public sector employees to buy them out of unsustainable benefits and pension obligations? Right-to-work can be extended at the local level and state level, if city leaders have the courage and fortitude to offer then pursue this policy.

Chartering Neighborhood Councils

Los Angeles City Council approved the neighborhood council format throughout the large metropolis. These groups receive funding to hold committee meetings and community outreach, and they have turned the tables on city leaders, as these groups have turned their advisory role into an advocacy force which recommends or rejects key legislation and policy proposals discussed by the city councils. Imagine what local conservatives could do on a neighborhood council in San Francisco or Chicago which their current representatives have failed to consider.

Jill Holman also listed the following urban GOP proposals, including health care and infrastructure. Public-private transit investments would promote the true stance of the GOP: government does facilitate commerce, but does not create it.

From Todd Blair's individual investments in South Los Angeles to Republican gains in San Diego and growing opportunities in Chicago, Illinois and Baltimore, Maryland (where two Republican governors made their wins strong and steady in 2014), the GOP has opportunity not just necessity beckoning conservatives to advance an urban agenda.


  1. Great article. We must reach out to all Americans.

  2. Wisconsin and Minnesota have long made fascinating bookends. As longtime readers may recall, the two neighboring states have similar sizes, similar populations, similar demographics, and even similar climates. But they don’t necessarily have similar politics, at least not lately.

    In the 2010 elections, the Badger State elected Scott Walker (R) governor and gave control of the legislature to Republicans, while the Gopher State made Mark Dayton (D) governor and elected a Democratic legislature. The former got to work targeting collective bargaining and approving tax cuts, while the latter raised taxes on the wealthy and boosted in-state investments.

    Nearly five years later, one of these two states is doing quite well. Policy.mic had an interesting report this week.
    Since 2011, Minnesota has been doing quite well for itself. The state has created more than 170,000 jobs, according to the Huffington Post. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.6% – the fifth-lowest in the country, and far below the nationwide rate of 5.7% – and the state government boasts a budget surplus of $1 billion. Forbes considers Minnesota one of the top 10 in the country for business.
    As Patrick Caldwell recently explained very well, Minnesota’s gains come on the heels of tax increases on Minnesota’s top 2% and higher corporate taxes, both of which state Republicans said would crush Minnesota’s economy. As for their neighbors to the east:
    By a number of measures, Wisconsin hasn’t fared as well as Minnesota. As the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports, Wisconsin’s job growth has been among the worst in the region, and income growth is one of the worst in the country. It has a higher unemployment rate than Minnesota. And the budget is in bad shape.
    Back in January, the editorial board of LaCrosse Tribune wrote, “The governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota each presented their versions of new year’s resolutions in various media interviews last week….Which approach is better? As we enter the new year, Minnesota is clearly winning by a long shot.”

    Political scientist Lawrence Jacobs published a related comparison a while back, which drew a similar conclusion: “The lesson from the upper Midwest is that rigid anti-tax dogma fails to deliver a convincing optimistic vision that widens economic opportunity and security. The excesses of liberalism may lurk, but Minnesota is building a modern progressivism that plows a hopeful path.”

    Comparisons between states can be inherently tricky, but that’s what makes the Minnesota/Wisconsin test so interesting – two similar, neighboring states, trying very different approaches at the exact same time, facing identical national conditions.

    I’d imagine most Republicans might find the results hard to explain.