Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Don't Expect Praise Or An Easy Road

So Charles Blow went to a Tea Party and was disgusted that he saw so many nonwhite speakers.  He compared it to a minstrel show.  What is more interesting than his casual assumption of racism on the part of the audience was the demonization of the nonwhite speakers as race traitors for speaking in from of the enemy.  This highlights some of the problems that conservatives will face if they should ever craft, commit to, and resource a strategy for making serious gains among nonwhites.  It will be difficult, often unpleasant and unthanked.

I disagree with most of this Ta-Nehisi Coates post defending Blow, but when Coates writes that winning over new groups is "a long-term, ongoing process, one that rarely includes merit badges from your friends or foes" he is exactly right.  I would go even farther and argue that any serious attempt by conservatives to make gains among African American will include many of whatever the opposite of a merit badge is.  There will be some suspicion among many members of the African American community who have bought into the idea that conservatives are racist or at least indifferent to the interests of African Americans.  Many of the most active African Americans who have ties to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party will play on those suspicions.  In fact liberals and the Democratic Party in general will escalate thier attacks on conservatives and Republicans as racists in order to protect the Democratic Party's huge margins among African Americans.  For evidence, one need not look any further than the James Byrd ad.  It is tough to remember now, but George W. Bush won 27% of the African American vote when he ran for reelection in Texas in 1998.  If those margins had translated to the presidential election of 2000, it would have been almost impossible for the Democrats to win the presidential election.  The margins had to be protected.  The despicable Byrd ad  and its use of atmospherics to tie Bush to lynching and white supremacy is a taste of what will be faced by Republicans and conservatives who make a serious effort to win over African Americans.  Any African Americans who take a public stand in favor of political conservatism will be met with Charles Blow-like attempts at marginalization as traitors to their race.

But thats life, and conservatives don't really lose much.  Here is the thing: Any conservative attempt to win over African Americas will be met with an escalation of racialist politics, but so what?  Liberals and Democrats already resort to these tactics when they get in a jam - exhibit A is the reaction to the Tea Parties.  These tactics have had the intended effect of protecting the Democratic Party's margins among African Americans.  So the best strategy is to come up with a good plan, work hard, and hit back hard.  The James Byrd ad/Charles Blow-type attempts to demonize white conservatives as racists and nonwhite conservatives as race traitors will abate when it becomes obvious they are not working (defined as major and sustained Republican gains among African Americans) and not a moment before.  So if conservatives and Republicans aren't liking what they are hearing, they need to come up with a plan to win over African Americans and then get to work. 

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 2 Comments


A good model might be some Reagan speeches: Look at the last 10 minutes of his 1984 GOP nomination acceptance address or his "evil empire" address, where he calls for minority inclusion, by attacking those who would discourage it. Cynics regard those as window dressing, but if there are bigots, then the first step is to make that behavior unacceptable.

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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 r... Read More

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