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North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis
You know you're a Republican when you can be trying to make an argument about how Republicans have to do better at reaching out to Latino voters and still make it insulting to Latinos—and add in African Americans as a bonus. By that measure, Thom Tillis, the North Carolina state House Speaker and Republican Senate candidate, is definitely a Republican. In a 2012 interview, Tillis contrasted the "traditional population," which is not growing, against the non-traditional groups Republicans need to win over, which are growing. So apparently we have a new euphemism for white people—on the next census, I'm just going to write in "traditional" when it asks my race.

Asked about "this shift that Hispanics used to be in the Republican Party and now they're clearly on the other side of the aisle," Tillis's response focused mainly on how Republicans "have to do a better job of communicating" positions they already hold that Latino voters agree with, like "limited government and free markets which is something that's appealing to everybody." It's nonsensical pablum that dodges many of the biggest issues, but inoffensive enough. Then he kept talking:

The traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable. It's not growing. The African American population is roughly growing but the Hispanic population and the other immigrant populations are growing in significant numbers. We've got to resonate with those future voters.
It's true that the Latino population of North Carolina is growing, so it's the inclusion of the African American population that really tips Tillis's hand. This is as much lament for the shift away from white dominance as it is demographic analysis. Remember, North Carolina has had a significant black population for quite some time. It's just that its members were for decades all but prohibited from voting. For that matter, as a state legislator Tillis has been involved in passing laws that will make it harder for black North Carolinians to vote.

Tillis isn't wrong to see that the Republican Party has a problem in increasing numbers of black and Latino voters. But the mindset that white people are the "traditional population," in a state with a large African American population, is one of the reasons Republicans have that problem. The notion that all Republicans have to do is communicate their love of limited government and the free market more effectively to get black and Latino votes is another of the reasons they have that problem. And the fact that North Carolina Republicans, Tillis prominent among them, are acting to suppress voting in racially disparate ways (gotta keep that "traditional population" on top!) is definitely a reason Republicans will have trouble getting black and Latino votes.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE, Black Kos community, and Daily Kos.

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