In an effort to garner minority support for future congressional endeavors, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) called for fellow Republican House members to increase the number of minorities on their staff earlier this week.

“He met with several African American conservative leaders, and this is all part of an effort to expand our base,” Hastert spokesman John Feehery said. “(The African American leaders) said if you want to get a few more African American votes, you should have a few more African Americans on your staff, and the speaker liked the suggestion.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, Hastert said he is trying to restructure his staff to reflect the 25 percent Hispanic population in his home district and has encouraged other Republicans to do the same.

The potential effectiveness of Hastert’s gesture is debatable, election analyst and Eastern Michigan political science Prof. Jeff Bernstein said.

“Certainly this gesture in and of itself is meaningless. Most people don’t follow politics that closely, so big deal,” Bernstein said. “However, in the longer run, having minorities on staff may sensitize Republicans to these issues.”

Hastert’s call for diversity comes amid a racially charged political environment as a result of debate over affirmative action and fallout from the controversial remarks made by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

“If the republicans could ever find a way to win 20 percent of the African American vote, they couldn’t lose,” Bernstein said. “To begin with they have 10 percent of the vote and they want to have 20 percent, and then someone like Trent Lott comes along and opens his mouth and before you know it, they have 5 percent.”

In spite of apparent similarities between the speakers call for diversity and the University’s race-conscious admissions policy, Feehery said Hastert’s position is not an example of affirmative action.

“He believes that it is a good idea to encourage diversity, but that quotas are not the way to get the job done,” Feehery said.

mouth and before you know it, they have 5 percent.”

In spite of apparent similarities between the speakers call for diversity and the University’s race-conscious admissions policy, Feehery said Hastert’s position is not an example of affirmative action.

“He believes that it is a good idea to encourage diversity, but that quotas are not the way to get the job done,” Feehery said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.