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The military option

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Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
 

Republicans seeking to connect with newly important demographic groups that re-elected President Obama should remind black voters of a strong U.S. military's economic importance for them.

Writing for The New York Times, Kiron K. Skinner — director of Carnegie Mellon University's Center for International Relations and Politics, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and foreign-policy adviser to the Romney campaign — says recapturing the black vote, on which the GOP could rely for its first 60 years, is necessary for Republicans to “succeed with the emerging majority.”

With blacks' unemployment rate particularly high, the GOP should focus on the military's role in black Americans' lives, not on “classical-liberal” ideals — equality under the law, individual rights, liberty, democracy — that have benefited them so much. Ms. Skinner says 1944's G.I. Bill paved the way for “today's black middle class” and the civil-rights generation — and that blacks are 16.9 percent of the armed forces, with black women enlisting at a rate “twice their percentage of the population.”

Recalling Mitt Romney's call for 100,000 more active-duty troops, she urges Republicans to “make the case” that America's “defense posture has significant pocketbook implications for” blacks.

Framed that way, a bedrock GOP principle — strong national defense — should appeal strongly to black voters, helping Republicans make inroads with a constituency they can't afford to lose.

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