Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

On Not Getting Started

On an earlier thread discussing how conservatives might make gains among African Americans, Ken Thomas mentioned several Reagan speeches in which Reagan spoke out against racism and bigotry and explained that his politics was based on the inalienable rights of all individuals.  Those were the right things to say, they were important to say, and Reagan had been saying similar things since the mid-1960s.  They were especially important because the destruction of Jim Crow, inflation, rising crime, riots, the Vietnam War and other events had blasted tens of millions of loose from the Democratic Party.  There was an active competition for those voters and some were fighting for those votes on racialist grounds.  Reagan was making it clear that his brand of conservative politics would be based on antiracism and equal justice under the law.  It was the right thing to do, but sadly it was no start to healing the breach between conservatives (or Republicans) and the African American community.  I don't hold that against Reagan.  Nothing since then has been a start either.

A big part of it is the depth of the breach between conservatives and African Americans.  The best introduction is problem is our William Voegeli's essay on movement conservatism and the African American community.  It isn't the whole story because that would take a book (or two) but you get a sense of the roots of the suspicion that so many African Americans have for conservatives.  The relationship of the Republican Party with African Americans was damaged as a result of this breach between conservatives and African Americans.  As the Republican Part came to be seen as the political vehicle for movement conservatism, many (if not the vast majority) of African Americans identified the Republican Party as indifferent or hostile to the rights and interests of the African American community.  The links between the perception of movement conservatism as hostile or indifferent to African American interests and the identification of the Republican Party with movement conservatism are the keys to understanding the huge margins by which the Democrats have won African Americans since 1964.  As Voegeli pointed out, the Republicans won 40% of the African American vote in 1956, but only 6% in 1964 and have only made the occasional marginal and temporary gains since then. 

It is 2010 and, after forty-six years later and Republicans are still at square zero among African Americans.  Which is not to say that there have not been attempted "starts."  There was Ken Mehlman talking to the NAACP.  There was George W. Bush meeting with African American preachers and appearing in mostly African American schools and calling education the new civil rights issue.  There was Jack Kemp and enterprise zones.  There was picking Michael Steele as RNC chairman and his promise to try to win over African Americans, young voters and Latinos. Part of the problem is that these gestures were not followed up on, but a bigger problem is that those making them misunderstood what making a "start" at making large, sustained gains among African Americans meant.

All of those gestures seemed to be based on the assumption that if you showed up (once in a while) apologized, for past misdeed, talked about a few select, urban-oriented issues,  and integrated some African Americans into Republican Party elites, the road to substantial gains would be opened.  Even if the above gestures had been followed up on, even if they had not been scattered across decades, they would still not have yielded better results.  Even if those gestures had been an integrated strategy, the strategy would still suffer from being soft, narrow and cheap.

It would be soft because it overestimates the gains to be made from easy gestures like showing up from time to time, making the occasional apology, and such.  It isn't that those gestures are worthless, just that they don't mean much by themselves.  When a community is suspicious because of long historical experience, those gestures are easily discounted unless they are, among other things grounded in a rhetoric that can authentically integrate conservative principles and policies within the African American and broader American historical experience.  And I don't mean bootstrap, self-help bromides.  Constructing such a rhetoric will be a brain frying task.

It would be narrow because it would not treat the African American community as a group with a full spectrum of interests.  Improving inner-city schools is a terrific idea, but there are alot of things to worry about in life, and anyway, millions of African Americans aren't sending their kids to failing schools.  Talking about how pro-family tax reforms and market-oriented health care reform will help the average African American family alongside education is just a start of what a broader issue agenda will look like.  Talking about abortion and eminent domain abuse and how each tie into deep  concerns about the government's requirement to protect people's basic human rights and the need to restrain government from dispossessing the weak at the hands of the connected (anyone remember urban renewal?) could be a beginning of creating an agenda of shared principle.  The list is not exhaustive.

It would be cheap because it would not commit to the hundreds of often unpleasant conversations in front of suspicious audiences, to rebutting attacks speedily, powerfully and in detail, to the tens of millions of dollars that will have to be spent on media with largely African American audiences who don't consume much of the alternative conservative media.  Until conservatives and Republicans come up with and commit to a realistic strategy for making substantial gains among African Americans, there has been no start no matter what else they do.  There is only wasted time, and enough has already been wasted.  And what is worse than not starting is the comforting illusion of starting, which only encourages the wasting of more time, even as gains are expected. 

Discussions - 26 Comments

It seems to me that the most fruitful approach is for the abortion and family-issues groups to start working together more. One very important thing that has been missing is very basic--knocking on doors and asking for votes. The place to start might be in the Black churches. Conservative evangelicals of both races can, and, as I understand it, are starting to, work together.

The links between the perception of movement conservatism as hostile or indifferent to African American interests and the identification of the Republican Party with movement conservatism are the keys to understanding the huge margins by which the Democrats have won African Americans since 1964. As Voegeli pointed out, the Republicans won 40% of the African American vote in 1956, but only 6% in 1964 and have only made the occasional marginal and temporary gains since then.

It is not the 'key', Pete. Your account is anachronistic.

In 1976, a Republican with no baggage on racial questions (Gerald Ford) was rejected by the black electorate by an 11:1 margin by a Democrat (Jimmy Carter) who had made his way in Georgia state politics as an ally of Lester Maddox.

The bulk of the Republican congressional caucus endorsed each of the salient pieces of 'civil rights' legislation enacted during the period running from 1960 through 1968, by margins exceeding those of the Democratic caucus. The Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates during that era included Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Miller, and Spiro Agnew. The congressional caucus during those years was led by Everett Dirksen, Charles Halleck, Gerald Ford, Hugh Scott, and John Rhodes. The most prominent Republican governors during the period were Ronald Reagan, Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton, George Romney, James Rhodes, and John Volpe. Of the foregoing, only Goldwater and Reagan could be described as 'movement conservatives' and only Goldwater and Reagan were antagonists of civil rights legislation in 1964/65 (Rhodes was ambivalent). The Republican Party rejected by the black electorate of that era was run by denizens of the Chamber-of-Commerce (Gerald Ford), by the vaguely liberal (Rockefeller, Romney) and by left-baiters who were programmatically vaguely liberal (Nixon, Agnew). Characters like Goldwater and Reagan were a modest minority, and neither man made himself antagonists after 1968 to the Congressionial Black Caucus on anything an ordinary person might consider a non-negotiable issue.

You ought to go back to the drawing board if you want to understand the formation and maintenance of public opinion in particular subcultures.

Don''t waste your breath, Art. Mr. Spiliakos is more about shiny ideas than about pragmatic history (he shares this with Progressives, unfortunately).

Blacks are in the tank for big-government socialism, Pete. They are about reparations for supposed "misdeeds," and people like you encourage them in this. The very last thing the conservative movement needs is more "white guilt." It's damned near been the ruination of "our country." It has certainly been the wedge used to create ever more Federal power.

We'll never have any sizable portion of the black vote, and the Hispanic vote will be ruined by "identity" politics in the 2nd and 3rd generation. This "country" is nearly done, and we need clear (self-interested) thinking to save it.

Richard, I would like for Republicans to talk more about abortion and especially about the humanity of the late-term fetus, but I would have very low hopes for any one issue in making inroads among African Americans. To the extent that it is Republican politicians and operatives seeking to win over African Americans, I would mention abortion to be sure, but I would lead with economic issues.

AD, in the post-1964 period the assumption that movement conservatism was more associated with the Republican that the Democratic Party at the presidential level was rational - though not the assumption that they were one and the same. To the extent that movement conservatives took part in presidential politics during this period, it was with more sympathy to the Republican presidential candidates. The argument that many of those candidates were cynical opportunists or political hacks (which are all too true) could not be expected to cut much ice. People noticed that Reagan first ran, then almost won, and then did win as a Republican and that future Republican candidates had to at least pretend to be his political heirs. Once the alienation takes hold (and the Goldwater vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alongside his nomination not simply as the Republican candidate but as the favorite of the conservative elements of the Republican Party are only one major part) it can become self-sustaining. It isn't fair that Reagan's welfare queens remark has had a longer half life in the memory of African American community than Carter's ethnic purity remark. But part of the reason for that half life is because conservatives have done so poorly at winning over African Americans over the decades and have let liberals define the narrative.

Redwald, "They are about reparations for supposed "misdeeds,"" I've tried not to think of you as a bigot, but you have made it impossible.

Name-calling. Yea, progressives/liberals do that a lot, and you've made it impossible for me to think of you as a real conservative.

There are no "misdeeds" among living people. Slavery is dust, the people who did it are dust, and generations who practiced Jim Crow are mostly dust. Reparations demands payment from people who did nothing wrong to people who did not suffer at their hands. So, indeed, they are "supposed" misdeeds, and perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to label people, fella.

Also, I would encourage to compare the health/prosperity of African-Americans with Africans. Novel idea, I know. Slavery was a misery inflicted on African-Americans, but the "payoff" has been living in a society that is not riven by war, disease, and severe poverty (unlike the majority of their brethren in other places). In short, reparations have already been paid.

But I guess considering the "debt" as "paid" makes me a racist in your book. Why are you posting on THIS blog?

All perfectly irrelevant, Pete. Goldwater and Reagan represented in 1964 one strand of thought within a Republican Party that was quite variegated. James Eastland and Robert Byrd represented one strand within a Democratic Party that was quite variegated. The notion that the black electorate was having a common and predictable reaction to developments within the intramural politics of the Republican Party during the years running from 1956 through 1964 cannot be taken seriously.

The distribution of opinion within the black electorate has no analogue in any other ethnos. (Cubans have been known to show a degree of unanimity which resembles that of the black population in certain circumstances. The Cuban population is much smaller, is intensely concentrated geographically with most living in one of three counties in Florida, and has a readily identifiable interest that is salient in federal elections). It is also unusually insensitive to the identity of the candidate.

How this came to be is a vexed question. I might suggest someone investigate the sociology of knowledge in black populations - in particular the effect of ministers and community social workers in opinion formation. I might suggest one investigate the social vision of the black population - about what sort of frame blacks put on social stratification, about how they understand rewards are distributed, and about how these changed between 1955 and 1975 (and Anne Wortham might be instructive here). I might suggest one look at the internal dynamics of black population in the civic realm - about how people respond to disputation and dissent and how that has changed over time (and recalling the reaction to the work of William Julius Wilson might be instructive here). I might suggest one look at the rank-ordering of what counts as important to both politicians and the populace in the black population (and Rudolph Giuliani's career might be instructive here). I might suggest one examine patterns in the manner in which black politicians interact with their white counterparts in the public square (and Jody Powell's memoir of the Carter Administration might be instructive here). I might suggest one attempt to tease out how these factors interact.

Personally, I doubt a successful and satisfying investigation in to the sociology and social psychology of the black population is going to reveal anything you can use to manipulate events. The phenomenon in question will (one wagers) be subject to gradual erosion, but in its own time, not yours.

Redwald, Well that was an interesting rebuttal to Randall Robinson or somebody but otherwise unresponsive. The assertion that African Americans are "about reparations" (as opposed to it being an issue within the African American community, though one with little evidence of salience electoral politics - most of the statewide and national politicians who African Americans end up voting for aren't supporters of race-based reparations) is a bigoted generalization.

AD, all interesting (and I'll try to check out Wortham's book the next time I go to the library - the costs on Amazon were prohibitive) points, but LBJ, Humphrey, Kennedy(s) and others represent how most African Americans see mainstream of national Democratic Party politics on race as Goldwater and Reagan are seen as representing the mainstream of the Republican Party. In some ways it is fair. LBJ and Humphrey got to be President and party nominee in the 1964+ era, while Eastland and Byrd didn't. Though there is alot of doublethink involved. When Strom Thurmond became a Republican, his segregationist past was held against him and his (new) party in a way that Byrd's wasn't.

I think that the question of how knowledge is distributed within African American populations is very important (and I would add to your list media that aims primarily at an African American audience.) That is why it is important to make a special effort (in style of argument, in agenda-construction and commitment of resources in money and above all in time and persistence) to win over African Americans. Even with every social factor (and their own lack of commitment or an organized strategy) going against them, Republicans have been able to win about 10% or a little more of African Americans. The big problems to expanding from there are either sloth or fatalism. Making even small gains (to 20% or in other words losing by 4 to 1 instead of 9 to 1) will take a huge effort. But there is more that can be done than waiting. Conservative Republicans have been able to win 20% or more of the African American vote on the state level. Events will occur (they usually do) that might be taken advantage of if Republicans lay the groundwork. The persistent presence of Republicans and the process of argument (if carried out with a modicum of intelligence and social sensitivity) will win over some. Others might just be more disposed to think of Republicans as legitimate, as mistaken but not racist or indifferent. Even that will open up some political space and complicate the distribution of knowledge. It will be slow, hard, and often seem futile. Your last point has real but I think limited truth. No matter what conservatives do, it is difficult to imagine winning a majority of African Americans in the foreseeable future. What can be reasonably hoped for it to help bring African American voting patterns more in line with African American policy preferences on issues like taxes and abortion and maybe even make a few converts on matter of policy.

Well, I don't know-- what percentage of a population needs to believe something to be "all about" that something? For me, when over half of blacks support reparations in cash, I figure that's being "all about" reparations (particularly when you factor in social desirability bias, which dampens the true numbers).

There are other polls that put the figure in the 60s. It seems pretty clear that the majority of blacks would vote for reparations if they could, thereby forcing people who never did them harm to pay them for ills they never suffered. So who are the racists here?

As far as voting, blacks vote for the Democrat whoever he/she happens to be; how do you know they don't support reparations (particularly at the state or local levels)? Shooting from the hip there, partner.

Now, do you have something substantive to say? You've proven that you play the "bigot" card as fast as Al Sharpton, and just as vacuously, but are you capable of actual substantive argumentation without bluster or name-calling?

but LBJ, Humphrey, Kennedy(s) and others represent how most African Americans see mainstream of national Democratic Party politics on race as Goldwater and Reagan are seen as representing the mainstream of the Republican Party. In some ways it is fair. LBJ and Humphrey got to be President and party nominee in the 1964+ era, while Eastland and Byrd didn't.

Pete, prior to 1976, Ronald Reagan was no more prominent in the Republican Party than was Nelson Rockefeller. The black population was already casting bloc votes for Democratic candidates.

Even with every social factor (and their own lack of commitment or an organized strategy) going against them, Republicans have been able to win about 10% or a little more of African Americans.

You would be hard put to find another communal group of any size with a distribution of preferences so lopsided. It is not indicative of any kind of success or good fundament. You might find that share of the general population think Elvis Presley is alive, well and living in Boca Raton.

Making even small gains (to 20% or in other words losing by 4 to 1 instead of 9 to 1) will take a huge effort.

Here is the question, Pete: what is the marginal utility of your advertising dollars and organizational efforts? If it ain't jack, why bother?

"Here is the question, Pete: what is the marginal utility of your advertising dollars and organizational efforts? If it ain't jack, why bother?"

My point exactly -- why alienate people who will vote for you to gain a few votes from people who aren't likely to? African-Americans aren't a dynamic part of the electorate anymore (not like Hispanics); such efforts are wasted.

Perhaps, given how quickly some people whip out the "race card," current GOP tactics are logical. Say a few conciliator words in blacks' direction, and then campaign for the white vote. This denies your opponents overt use of the racial wedge issue while allowing you to pursue the most rational course. Cynical, yes, but it's a hard world.

Anonymous is me, of course. Oops.

I doubt placing advertisements on NBN radio stations &c. is going to alienate anyone in the broader population. Adopting certain policy measures favored by Maxine Waters might, but you would tend to avoid such policy measures on principle (and Waters likely would not care if you did adopt them).

Redwald, whether African Americans were polled in 2002 to favor race-based reparations would still not justify describing African Americans as being "all about" reparations and your statement remains a bigoted generalization. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that in a listing of the most important issues to African Americans, reparations was.. nowhere.

Maybe it was the phrasing of the question, but even if we were to group the racism/race relations category as being entirely about reparations (an unwarranted assumption) it would still rank very low.
AD, well the resources directed would not be entirely advertizing money, especially between elections. Much of the work would be in constructing a saleable and relevant political agenda and a saleable rhetoric. It would not be easy, but it would not necessarily be expensive. Much of the effort would also be directed at a persistent presence within media and public forums that are primarily directed at African American audiences. this would also not necessarily be expensive though time consuming and often contentious. No doubt time is a limited and valuable resource, but perhaps Republican Party officeholders, and operatives, as well as conservative commentators and thinkers would be better served spending more of their time in such forums if they are prepared to make a good case. Even funding of ads doesn't concern me that much if the Republicans are competent. If the Republicans can't fund a message and GOTV operation among right-leaning groups and persuadables and have money left over for media with mostly African American audiences, they really ought to look at their fundraising model. Which come to think of it, is a good idea anyway.

Winning up to 20% of the African American vote would not be the ultimate goal of course. It was merely an illustration of the degree of effort it would take to make what would, in other contexts, be considered modest gains. The ultimate realistic goal would be to make Republican (and more generally right-leaning) politics legitimate to more of the African American community than at present. Even a bump in support to 20% (which would be a kind of floor and which I don't expect the GOP to achieve in the 2012 presidential election no matter what they do starting today) would be meaningful is some electoral contexts. It wouldn't mean much in Georgia. Republicans would still have the edge in presidential elections and the sixth congressional would still elect a Democrat to the House. But at the presidential level, such a shift would move Florida from a tossup (maybe a little Republican leaning) state in close elections to Republican-leaning. It would shift Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania from Democrat-leaning in otherwise close races to toss up. That is one reasons why Democrats are so determined and often hysterical about keeping their huge margins among African Americans

It's not a "bigoted generalization," but since you seem determined to substitute ad hominem attack for substance, so be it.

The reason your poll doesn't show reparations as important was because they didn't ask the question. When pollsters do, they get an overwhelming positive response. Listen, I can lead you to water....

The real question, and my conern all along, is this: What do you have to sacrifice to attract a pitiful handful of black voters? One thing I figured out really quick -- you have to engage in the ritual humiliation of the South. Anything else? As a nation, do we need to apologize for slavery every year on the anniversary of Lee's surrender, or something like that?

My point is that we should be concerned about giving the base what it wants -- FOR A CHANGE. Lower taxes, less federal regulation, better industrial policy, lower immigration. Instead of stretching the "tent," let's just give the folks already inside it some payoff for their loyalty. Not a radical idea, boyo.

Redwald, well I guess people can look at your statement that African Americans are "all about" reparations, then look at the poll on African American policy issue priorities and make up their own minds.

The stuff about ritual humiliation and apologies on the day of Lee's surrender is so disconnected from anything anyone has been saying here and associated treads that it seems to reflect personal anxieties. Though it does illustrate my concern that one of the biggest obstacles to expanding Republican (and more broadly center-right) support among African Americans will come less over matters of principles on issues like life or the best way to cut taxes or how to reform health care, than over matters of praise and blame over the past. In the end, I think that reasonable people, (among present self-identifying conservatives and African Americans who might be won over) will be able to find a way to talk about the past that takes into account what is true about a wide set of American experiences (of which the white Southern and African American experiences are only two) and move on to policies and principles of shared concern. The good news is that I doubt most current conservatives would agree with the statement that African Americans are "all about" reparations.

And to state the obvious, a consistently winning limited government politics under changing demographic conditions will require (among other things) getting more nonwhites to vote within the center-right coalition based on a limited government agenda.

Again, the old chestnut that "demography is destiny" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The people of Arizona are showing us the way. It's not destiny, it's a matter of political will -- political will that "conservatives" like you don't seem to have.

Don Quixote, go right ahead and slay those giants. People like me (people who attend to the real world -- aka 'bigots') will simply pass you by. The conservative base is tired of "big tentism" and flabby political platforms full of mealy-mouthed multicultural drivel.

Quite frankly, Pete, I don't think you've lived long enough or in the right region to know what you're talking about.

Redwald, from the available evidence, you engage with the world by a combination of racial resentment ("do we need to apologize for slavery every year on the anniversary of Lee's surrender,"), hysteria at the thought of incorporating the experiences of African Americans into our public memory ("mealy-mouthed multicultural drivel"), and invidious stereotyping ("They are about reparations for supposed "misdeeds,). Hopefully you are more functional when dealing with people on an individual basis in real life and the computer serves as an outlet for you to get things off your chest.

I tend to tell it like it is, if that's what you mean.

The thing about apologies on "Appomattox Day" was SARCASM, dude. You seem to share with the liberals a certain lack of humor. I'm not surprised, honestly.

You haven't really been reading my comments, apparently. The experience of black people have been taken quite seriously, by both the Left and the Right. It's been milked, in fact. You aren't suggesting anything that hasn't already been tried (Jack Kemp, anyone?). Your very own Lucas Morel at the top of the blog is telling you that getting more black voters will be like climbing the "Alps."

My question is (and remains) a legitimate one: What will we have to sacrifice/promise to succeed with African-Americans (forgive me, but stressing things we have in common has not worked, so the stakes will have to be raised if you want actual success)?

As for hysteria, it wasn't me who started the name-calling. People who have been reared in political correctness usually have only one answer to anything that challenges their piety: anger and self-righteousness.


1. Hysteria - your reaction to incorporating African American experiences into public memory in a way that is truthful ("mealy-mouthed multicultural drivel"), It was your own words.

2. Jack Kemp - A too narrow agenda among other problems, as I wrote above. Same thing with George W. Bush.

3. Lucas Morel - He is right! It is almost like I just wrote a post about the difficulty of making even modest sustained gains. So was winning support among urban FDR-loving white Democrats once upon a time.

4. It is a legitimate question. I suggested above some issues I would focus on , though I'm open to suggestions on other issues. I don't see any of those issues as representing any compromises on principle or policy. The main sacrifices would be in effort and time.

No, the main sacrifice would be symbolic -- you might (inadvertently) send a signal to your base that you aren't very focused on their particular needs (say, like fair hiring practices, or a more even distribution of the tax burden).

Nothing I've said (other than perhaps misunderstood sarcasm) could possibly be interpreted as hysteria. And the existence of multicultural drivel (literally everywhere in this country, from political platforms to school curricula) is a matter of record. Wake up and smell the latte, fella.

I don't think Jack Kemp or Bush were "too narrow." I think that this particular segment of the electorate is "unwooable." They've been taught 50 years of grievance, and nothing we could say, do or promise will undo that damage. Best look to our own interests (or, if you want to switch to a "family values" campaign aimed at Hispanics, I would agree with such an initiative). Let's not waste time and effort on people who won't appreciate it or respond to it.

Votes are votes and the demographic composition of your electorate at any given point in time is not important. An optimal distribution of sales effort across demographic subsets is one in which the marginal benefit derived from time and money is equal across all groups. N.B., marginal benefit is not mean benefit.

I suspect you will find that Republicans who have polled well among black voters in the last four decades or so (e.g. John Lindsay and Charles Percy) did so in a certain matrix and by certain methods:

1. Vigorous clubhouse politics to which the body of ministers and sundry who make up the opinion leader segment of the black community are antagonistic;

2. Deals with black politicians &c.

The former is a social circumstance that has largely disappeared and the advisability of the latter is dependent upon the goals and dispositions of that opinion leader segment. (Often these goals include the profligate distribution of patronage of various sorts and never mind the social consequences).

The thing is, there is a distinction in race relations between the palpable and mundane (where business is generally satisfactory for most parties - there are exceptions about which more anon) and the abstract, civic, and public (which is often pathological and stupid). I think what might be called 'the constituent power' in the black population is lost and still attempting to find its way. I do not think you, or anyone else, can hurry the process along much.

In the interim, we can pursue good public policy. It won't get you jack with the constituent power in the black population; they have their shtick and their agendas and intelligent policy will more often than not place you at logger heads with them. That's too bad, but what is obligatory is not to please those characters, but to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods in whose interest they fancy they speak (within the limits set by an understanding of what is the appropriate ambit of state power).

Redwald taking your paragraphs one at a time,

1. On economics, good tax and health care policy (among others) would be helpful to large segments of whites, African Americans, Latinos, whatever. On policy, the key is having policies that produce real life benefits and that are in tune with important ideas of right and wrong.

2. Assuming that "mealy-mouthed multicultural drivel" was a response to something we were talking about and not a random expectoration, the only thing I found it to be a relevant reply to was the suggestion to incorporate African American historical experiences into conservative rhetoric on the basis of truth. That isn't multicultural drivel - or at least there is no reason to expect that the two things are synonymous.

3. "taught 50 years of grievance," Perhaps conservative political failure explains part but not all of the failure of conservatives to make more inroads. I don't mean Goldwater's vote in 1964. I mean the failure to make a persistent well-articulated case in the present and recent past.

4. On Latinos and family values: Sure, I would include appeals to shared social policy concerns, would lead with how economic policy could raise living standards. Best of all would be policies that could combine the two. But I think it is important to have a broad agenda and to have answers to lots of different questions of public policy.

AD, I don't think that focusing on winning over John Conyers or somebody is the way to go or the only way to make gains. The arguments will, at first, have to be primarily carried by people outside and dissenting from the current African American political leadership - though making use of forums that organizations like the Urban League or whatever make available to those who might disagree with the policy preferences of their leaderships as well as media. That will be one of the most unpleasant parts of any strategy that isn't based on moving left. It will mean appealing to suspicious audiences and arguing against people who have more credibility with that constituency. So it will be important to be able to explain real world policy benefits and agreement on principles and have a thick skin. Maybe not alot of people will be won over right away, but the long-tem goal would be to make Republican politics familiar and legitimate so that considering or even supporting Republican candidates no longer seems eccentric and the assumption that the Democrats is the natural home of African Americans (and that the Republicans are either hostile or indifferent) is a given with less of the African American community.

Whose talking about Conyers? Detroit's a pit and it is rude to the rest of the black elite to suggest Conyers is their exemplar.

Time and money and effort spent doing 'x' is time and money and effort not spent doing 'y'. There are trade-offs. The implication of your verbiage is that there is some sort of categorical imperative to do 'x' without regard to practical effects. Instead of another round of prolix repetition, why not ask yourself why you think that is the case, then get back to us with a concise elaboration of your understanding of that normative question.

AD, if it makes you feel better, pick any number of prominent African American political leaders. Some will be more moderate and open to right-leaning policies than others. Some, especially on the local level might even be willing to ally with Republicans and conservarvatives for various reasons, in ways that would not require major concessions of principle by conservatives. That should be welcomed and cultivated, but in the end, initial progress won't come from deal cutting with political elites.

Resources are limited but not fixed in advance and resourcing both GOTV with already right-leaning groups and making a major effort with African Americans (which will often include the time and effort of Republican operatives and conservative writers and thinkers) among other groups is not a contradiction and would not represent a one-for-one trade off of votes with other groups. To the extent that an improved effort among African Americans might be linked to improvements in rhetoric, fundraising technique and political organization there might be little or no trade off at all. in the long run As for practical effects, even an increase to 20% (not an ultimate goal) among the African American vote could make the difference in several electoral contexts. It isn't impossible, though not easy. Mitch Daniels won 20% of the African American vote under what should have been very adverse circumstances given the national environment, and without seemingly doing worse among right-leaning groups or moving left.

Pete, you are suggesting we cast a big net to as a "lowest common denominator" approach. Well and good, but don't expect to peal off any blacks that way. You'll get a few at the margins, but those are likely the ones for whom some other status (e.g., Christian) is more important that "blackness." Good luck with that.

The rest of what you say hardly refutes what I've been saying. I'll be switching to other threads now.

You said that before, and it is fundamentally unresponsive.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: