(Nicholas Buford is a freshman at Valdosta State University, and a member of the Student Government Association)
My name is Nicholas Buford. I'm a 19 year old black Republican from Georgia. I currently attend Valdosta State University where I am a freshman, attempting to major in political science. I serve as the Senator of the freshman class of Valdosta State University.
I am the first black Republican in my family. I have loved politics since I was 13 years old. No one in my family had ever been politically active before. I'm from a family of very religious, conservative Democrats. After the election in 2008, I decided to find out the values of the two political parties. I came to realize that the values I believe in are within the GOP party platform. At the age of 16, I made the decision to stand up for my values, even though it would be tough. Since I turned 16, I have never been afraid to talk about why I am a Republican and why I am a conservative. I try to educate others on the platform of the GOP as well.
I want the Republican Party elected officials and GOP leaders to work harder to promote the GOP platform to all Americans.
There are so many African Americans, Hispanics, and young people who stand with the GOP. Yet, these people vote Democrat because the GOP does not do a good job of explaining and spreading its message. I'm tired of watching people vote for a party and they don't even know what the party stands for.
I joined my university's College Republican club in September 2012. In November 2012, I participated in a debate against the College Democrats at my school. The audience was over 300 people and 80% of the crowd was African American. During that two hour debate, many students were getting their first glimpse at a black Republican. At the debate we discussed the social, fiscal, and national defense platforms of America's two major political parties. I stood up for the values of my party and presented the party platform in a clear voice. I spoke passionately about the Republican Party platform and put it in clear and simple language. After the debate, I stayed in the debate hall and talked to over 100 students. Many students told me that they had never heard the GOP platform before (they were told that the GOP is the party for rich white people, like most minorities are raised to think). Many students realized how conservative they were. Many students realized how moderate they were. Several students were begging me to tell them more about the GOP and what we stand for. Now, I can't go anywhere on campus without someone asking me about the GOP.
I came to the conclusion that the GOP must do more serious outreach.
GOP leaders need to reach out to people who do not usually vote for them. GOP members need to reach out to local black churches, black/ Hispanic business owners, and college students. We must first start a dialogue with these communities. We must meet with people even if we know they won't vote for us. We must make people aware of the GOP's history and how our policies work. We must talk about how we are the party of opportunity. We must tell of how we are the party who passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. We're the party of the first 30 black members of Congress from the days of reconstruction. We're the party that started funding for Historical Black Colleges and Universities. We were the party that supported the NAACP in the early 1900s. We're the party of Dwight Eisenhower; the great President that sent the National Guard to make sure black students were allowed to attend regular public schools. We offer an opportunity society over a dependency society.
If we can get more people to view the GOP in a different light, then people will be more attracted to our party.
Communication is key and we must reach out to every voter group. We must stop letting the Democrats define our party. We must realize that the reason some blacks and Hispanics vote Democrat is because the GOP is not presenting itself as an alternative to the Democrats. We will never succeed until we give a serious effort. This is not just an election strategy. It's about a lot more than elections. This is about allowing the American people to believe in and support strong conservative values that will lead our country towards a brighter day. We must first start a dialogue with all communities.
I recently heard a story of how Senator Tim Scott would constantly meet with black civic leaders and black ministers from his former congressional district- even though he knew many of them would not vote for him. However, over time, Tim and those black ministers developed a stronger relationship. We must first develop good communication with all communities and show them that we care. We must show them that we care and explain how our policies benefit people's lives.
Former Congressman Allen West of Florida is a strong leader and I email him regularly. I seek guidance from Senator Tim Scott too. He is like a role-model to me. Now, Tim Scott is only black Republican member of Congress. To me, this is unacceptable.
We have so much work to do as a party, yet I know we can make our party more diverse. We don't need to change our values. We need to change the way we express our values. We do not need to become more moderate. WE need to become more modern. We need to encourage more Black Republicans to run for office. We must invest in more black Republicans and Hispanic Republicans who run for office. We need to promote our social and our fiscal values to the American people.
Former Congressman Jack Kemp did an incredible job of outreach black Americans.
Today, I see leaders like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Tim Scott are gearing up to work harder on promoting the conservative message to Americans who do not usually vote Republican. Yet, those three leaders cannot do this alone. This message needs to be passed along to other members of the party, and spread this all across our country. GOP members should do serious outreach in their communities to people who did not vote for them. GOP members of the Congress should work all across their state to spread the "true" message of the GOP.
We cannot be known as the party of the "Southern Strategy" that only reaches out to people who live in rich cities and country clubs. We don't have to demonize people to spread conservatism and win elections. If GOP leaders are afraid to reach out to the black and Hispanic community, they need to leave office. They are unfit to serve ALL the American people. As I said, this is not just a strategy to win elections. This is about spreading the TRUE message of conservatism; policies that benefit those who work hard no matter where they come from. We need more leaders in the GOP like Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mia Love, and Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. In the future, I hope to begin to work on campaigns for the GOP- so we can grow our party through aggressive, compassionate messaging. We are the "Great Opportunity Party". We are the Opportunity Party for people of ALL races and we must spread that across our entire nation.