In the fall of 2008, as the election of Barack Obama started to seem inevitable, many Republicans began wondering about their party’s future. Obama had won in part by harnessing the enthusiasm of young people. How would the right respond? How could conservatism be made into something swaggering and cool?
One answer was the Hip-Hop Republicans, a group of young, stylish African-Americans who loved both rap music and conservative values. The Hip-Hop Republicans weren’t an actual organization but a loose community that revolved around a blog of the same name. “It’s just refreshing to know that there is this spectrum of opinion out there that exists,” Michael Steele, a high-profile black Republican and fan of the blog, told the Times in 2008. After Obama’s election, Steele was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The Hip-Hop Republicans didn’t catch on in the ways some people hoped. The original blog, started, in 2004, by Richard Ivory, still exists, but it’s not updated much. A despairing post published on September 1st begins, “How much will the Republican Party change after the Trumpocalypse? Zero. Nada. None at all.” The only thing a young, urbane conservative of color can do, it seems, is wait outDonald Trump and hope that the Democrats, down the line, self-destruct.
In the meantime, a very different group of young-ish people is attempting to make Trump’s brand of Republicanism cool.