COTTO: Hip-hop conservatism is a plan for failure, not the future

The GOP must not embrace America's emerging low culture, and instead focus on building a more civilized future. Photo: Chuck D/ Public image

OCALA, Fla., August 26, 2013 — It’s no secret that the Republican Party is looking to diversify.

One little-known congressman’s approach takes the cake, and not in a good way. Trey Radel represents an affluent constituency in Florida, anchored by such locales as Naples and Marco Island. Nonetheless, he is at the forefront of introducing the GOP to none other than hip-hop music.

Last month, Radel described his attraction to hip-hop in an opinion piece published at BuzzFeed.

“Unlike most young, white teenagers growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, my favorite musicians were hip hop artists, including rappers such as Eric B., Big Daddy Kane and Chuck D of Public Enemy,” he recalled.

Later, he wrote that “Chuck said it best, ‘our freedom of speech is freedom or death.’ This is a message we can all get behind, Republican or Democrat. I find a conservative message in ‘Fight the Power’ because I believe when government expands it becomes a political tool meant to oppress. 

“We see it when Chuck D addresses oppression and the Civil Rights movement or references the Black Panthers. We see it when NWA, or even old-school artists like Paris, address harassment from law enforcement. Targeting and oppression is happening today, from the IRS going after political groups to the government spying on journalists and everyday American citizens.”

SEE RELATED: COTTO: Chris Lane is the victim of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ America

Here it seems like Radel is trying to equivocate white-collar political scandals with the savagery brought forth on the streets of late-1980s and early-‘90s America. Is this supposed to bring folks from Miami’s Liberty City, non-Palmer Woods Detroit, San Francisco’s Tenderloin, and other such communities into the Republican fold?

“Trey Radel, stick to being a lily white conservative. I say this as a conservative black man: You have no idea what Chuck D or NWA is about and trying to find a “conservative” message in blatant Leftist music is the epitome of cognitive dissonance,” said a reader who left a comment beneath the article.

How right he is.

The honest truth is that American popular culture has been circling the drain for decades, and Radel’s favored musicians are evidence of this. What does the GOP have to gain by endorsing “music” as base as hip-hop? How will not only championing the downfall of artistic taste, but using this as a vehicle for public policy benefit the nation?

Some might say that by bringing hip-hop into the loop, Republicans can find common ground with people who listen to it. Then, maybe these individuals will vote the party line.

Hopefully few men and women believe this. If modern conservatives will fall for such tripe, then they deserve to lose every election.

Hip-hop is most popular, and originally rose out of, impoverished urban neighborhoods. Aside from a culture of drugs, irresponsible sex, and violence, many in said neighborhoods dislike those who are not of their ethnic or racial background.

Beyond the rancid business of ancestry-based politics, hip-hoppers by and large have no reason to support the GOP. Major GOP policies such as tax cuts for wealthier Americans, the abolition of affirmative action programs, and stricter welfare standards often do not resonate with hip-hoppers.

One cannot forget that no small number of loyal Republican voters are senior citizens. How might hip-hop conservatism be expected to play in The Villages, for example?

Another question that answers itself.

While the GOP certainly needs to communicate with new demographic groups, glorifying low culture is not the way. It feels disgusting to even consider associating the party of Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Gerald Ford with such dreck.

Have we no respect for our history and the lessons it can teach us about tomorrow?  

Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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