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Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic…
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Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New…

by Steve Phillips

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An informative and important read! A certain presidential candidate claims that Hispanics love him, after he cheerfully insulted a group of them (among others). I couldn't help but think about this particular drama (for lack of a better term since it's an ongoing thing) when reading this book. Is demographics destiny? Could this candidate win the White House despite saying this and other facepalm-worthy (at best...) things?
 
Steve Phillips takes a look at the changing face of the US voter and why parties (arguably both) in the US aim for the wrong voters instead of galvanizing the ones who have perhaps remained untapped in terms of releasing their potential as an electoral force. He looks at immigration/birth rates, the focus and tenor of campaigns (both electoral and legislative), the structure of political campaigning itself and proposes HOW the Democrats (although really this is something the Republicans should really work on very much) can help harness these voters.
 
Some of the information was quite redundant for me: I follow elections (although I am certainly no expert!) and a lot of what he was saying wasn't new. However, it was nice to have a book focused about this topic. It was also helpful to read up on certain things like the employment and utilization of people of color in campaigns.
 
Phillips writes a large majority of political consultants are white. In itself there's nothing wrong with that (although I personally found it maddening since I've found it's been impossible to get a full-time job that is NOT limited by the election cycle in this field), but Phillips makes the case of why it can be helpful to have people of diverse backgrounds to reach the constituents the parties are trying to talk to: he describes a situation where a consultant used the census data to find Arab-American voters. An employee who happened to work for the consultant pulled 10 times more potential voters, because she was aware of how these potential voters identify (they may not have marked themselves as such on the census). Even if she was wrong it was still a MUCH bigger group to tap into.
 
Or, for example, another case that is playing out in the primaries: the over reliance on TV ads. Aside from the decline of general TV watching, Phillips (in a recent talk at UC Berkeley) noted that not all candidates need to rely on TV ads now for exposure. Social media can take care of that if done well. It's worth noting that certain parties get cuts from TV ads, which perhaps plays into why campaigns rely on them so much.
 
That said, even though the topic was really interesting I didn't like the writing style of the book. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I found that it was actually really difficult to read even though I was VERY interested in the topic. The only thing that kept me going was the topic in itself. As I wrote, some people won't like this for being too "101-textbook"-ish (telling them what they already know) or for focusing solely on race/ethnicity.
 
Overall I'd recommend it. And yes, while it's written for the Democrats/left/progressives/ the Republican Party could stand to read this as well. Their "autopsy" report after the 2012 found that outreach to the same groups Phillips writes about was lacking. It appears no one in their party actually read the autopsy or didn't bother learning from it, so they could probably learn a bit by reading this book. I'd also recommend 'Dog Whistle Politics' by Ian Haney López (which gets a mention in this book) to read as well. It discusses a different topic, but it's a good read about political messaging for anyone.
 
Borrowed from the library but I think this would be a good purchase for the right person. I also wouldn't be surprised if it pops up in a college class syllabus or as campaign reading. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
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Progressive people of color now make up 29 percent of the entire U.S. population, and progressive whites make up 26 percent of the population. In a book brimming with optimism, Steve Phillips, the founding chairman of a group dedicated to realizing the promise of this new majority, shows how we are now positioned to overcome the racial barrier that has divided our electorate for the past two centuries. Together, these two groups form a progressive majority for the first time, with huge potential implications for & verything.--Publisher's description.… (more)

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