by John Hawkins | January 17, 2012 3:10 am
As a party, the GOP does a lousy job of reaching out to black voters. Maybe we run a few commercials here & there or the President gives a speech at the National Urban League and we go, “See? We made the effort. 90% of the black vote is going to go to the Democrats no matter what we do, so why bother doing more?” Folks, that is the wrong attitude to take and it’s the biggest reason why the GOP only pulls about 10% of the black vote every four years.
Contrary to what popular opinion seems to be, I believe there are a significant number of black conservatives out there. I say that because about 30-40% (more on some issues) of blacks tend to come down on the conservative side of almost every issue you can name — even on things like reparations & affirmative action. Given that most people tend to vote in clusters (i.e.: If you are against gun control & affirmative action, want less welfare, & are anti-abortion, I can guess that you’re also going to support tax cuts and I’ll be right most of the time), that means that roughly 1/3rd of all blacks should probably be voting Republican.
So the real question to me is; why are so many blacks either not voting at all or voting for a party (the Democrats) that is by and large out of step with what they believe? I have a theory about that and I think it can best be explained by telling a little story about a conversation I once had.
I used to work with a guy named Euwell. We hung out and talked about a variety of things and one day the talk turned to politics. Euwell told me that he thought ‘welfare was a trap’ for black people that kept them down, he was tough on crime, he was against Affirmative Action, & he thought reparations were a joke. In short, he was very conservative ‘ yet he told me that he voted for Democrats. When I asked him why, you know what he told me? ‘Republicans don’t want black votes. We’re not welcome in the Republican Party.’
In essence, I believe that feeling is what is keeping the GOP from capturing about a 1/3rd of the black vote. Even if the Democrats have the wrong solutions, I think there are a lot of black Americans who feel that, ‘Well, at least they’re trying. The Republicans aren’t even doing that much.’
When you consider that the Democrats have spent decades aiming the most vile, slanderous attacks at Republicans on the race issue, it’s understandable that many blacks might feel unsure about the GOP’s intentions. After all, there are Democrats out there every day of the week claiming that Republicans are white, bigoted, racist, creeps who secretly love the KKK, want to bring the Confederacy back, and don’t want anything to do with black Americans. Worse yet, these same people resort to despicable, race based, attacks on any black American who sees through their transparent propaganda and decides to become a Republican. That’s what we’re up against and that’s why what we’re doing as a party right now isn’t going to ever be enough to swing a significant portion of the black electorate over to us.
So while I think the prominence of Condi Rice and Colin Powell & the money Bush wants to use to fight AIDS in Africa has probably helped the GOP’s image, we have to do more and we can’t rely on George Bush to do it all. When there’s a black community struggling with lousy public schools, the GOP needs to help them fight for school vouchers. If there are people in a largely black inner city struggling with crime, we in the GOP need to step up and demand that the police do what it takes to make those neighborhoods safe again. When black businesses are having trouble keeping their heads above water, the GOP should be championing tax cuts and cutting regulation to help them get back on their feet. We can’t continue to use, “well they’re not going to vote for us at election time” as an excuse to avoid getting involved.
Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, it’s not about pandering or compromising our beliefs to try to convince liberal blacks to vote GOP. It’s about explaining what we believe and then making it very clear that if you’re black and believe the same things, we want you on board with us. If you’re black and you’re against Affirmative Action & reparations, want the police to be tough on crime, don’t support gun control, want low taxes, and a strong military, then you’d be crazy not to vote GOP ‘ and Republicans would be crazy not to make more of an effort to get your vote. Oh and by the way ‘ the guy I mentioned earlier, Euwell? After we talked, he registered as a Republican. There are a lot more Euwells out there; we just have to make the effort to bring them into the fold.
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