. . . One of the things that is long overdue is some Republican re-thinking — or perhaps thinking for the first time — about the approach that they have been using, with consistently disastrous results, for trying to get the black vote.
The black vote was once consistently Republican, from the time of Abraham Lincoln to Herbert Hoover. Even after Franklin D. Roosevelt won over the black vote to the Democrats, it was not considered remarkable when Eisenhower got a higher share of the black vote than any Republican president in recent times has.
It may be years before Republicans can again get a majority of the black vote. But Republicans don’t need to get a majority of the black vote. If they get 20 percent of the black vote, the Democrats are in trouble — and if they get 30 percent, the Democrats have had it in the general elections.
Thomas Sowell, How Republicans Can Win The Black Vote, NRO, 22 Jan. 2010
One of the great travesties of the past half century has been how the far left has fully sewn up the black vote. It was LBJ's championing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - over the objection on Constitutional grounds of Barry Goldwater - that cemented the black vote for Democrats. Since then, blacks have regularly voted near 90% for Democrats.
The Democrats have been able to accomplish this by treating the blacks as servile victims permanently entitled to special treatment. Democrats substituted a brand of soft racism for the hard racism that was historically the hallmark of their party. And as we see today, that faustian bargain has worked out much better for the hard left than it has for blacks in our society.
But that house of cards is crumbling before our very eyes. Quite literally, all of the stars are aligned for conservatives to make a real push for the black vote. Blacks should be waking up to a hard lesson - that the left wing promises sold to them, the separatism and victimhood, they are all empty. And on the two most important issues facing blacks today, jobs and education, their best hopes lay with the right.
The first star in alignment is jobs. The black middle class has been growing steadily since 1955. But that middle class is under full frontal assault from Obama. According to the Economic Policy Institute, quoted in the Chicago Sun Times, the median net worth for black families has plunged 83% under Obama. Black unemployment has risen to 16.2%, and only 56.9% of black men over the age of 20 remain in today's workforce. According to the Censsus Bureau, the poverty rate for black households in America today is at a staggering 27.4%. As the Sun-Times summed this up:
Millions of Americans endured financial calamities in the recession. But for many in the black community, job loss has knocked them out of the middle class and back into poverty. And some experts warn of a historic reversal of hard-won economic gains that took black people decades to achieve.
“History is going to say the black middle class was decimated” over the past few years, said Maya Wiley, director of the Center for Social Inclusion. “But we’re not done writing history.”
Adds Algernon Austin, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy: “The recession is not over for black folks.”
And indeed, it should be noted that Obama's most recent decision to decimate Army ranks will likewise severely restrict another historic avenue for black advancement to the middle class. In the Army, 27.7% of the enlisted ranks are filled by blacks.
The second star in alignment is the horrid state of public education in the inner cities. Is is, as Juan Williams has called it from the left, "the key civil rights issue of this generation." And as Thomas Sowell has opined from the right, "Republicans have a golden opportunity to go after the votes of black parents by connecting the dots and exposing one of the key reasons for bad education in inner cities and the bad consequences that follow.."
Both Williams and Sowell also agree that the single biggest hurdle to improving education in the inner cities is the power of teachers' unions. The left stands shoulder to shoulder with all public sector unions - teachers' unions in particular - because they provide much of the economic base for Democrats. And indeed, Exhibit one in trying to win the black vote on this issue is Obama who, at the start of his administration, ended the DC voucher program for DC's inner city youth, while at the same time he enrolled his children in the area's best private school.
Then there is the third star in alignment. Black Republicans are starting to gain a wide voice. When groups like the Black Caucus or the NAACP play the race card now, there are black conservatives like LTC Alen West to respond. And the message of West and his ilk to their fellow blacks is quite literally to runaway from the Democratic plantation.
And finally, the last star in alignment is the race card. There was a time when throwing the race card ended all debate, sending the one whom the card was aimed at ducking and running for cover. For a host of reasons, that is no longer true today. The race card is near bankrupt - though that won't stop the hard left from playing it while there is still any life in their bodies. The race card has been the key to their rise to power. Its bankruptcy spells their death knell. Indeed, expect the race card to fly fast and furious when Republicans seriously vie for the black vote.
For their part, as Republicans vie for the black vote, they must heed the warning of Dr. Thomas Sowell:
There is no point today in Republicans’ continuing to try to win over the average black voter by acting like imitation Democrats. Those who like what the Democrats are doing are going to vote for real Democrats.
Indeed, in the current climate, there is no reason to pretend to be anything other than a conservative Republican when addressing the black community.
It is doubtful that we will ever see again the stars aligned so favorably for breaking the Democrat's stranglehold on the black vote. But according to people close to the issue, it would appear that there is virtually no top down attempt being made by the Republican Party to court the black vote. This from PJM:
Timothy Johnson is the chairman and founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation. He is less than impressed with the Republican Party’s outreach efforts: I’m a past party official, so I can speak from in house party politics. The short answer is the party sucks at it. That’s the bottom line. The party when it comes down to the black community is doing a terrible job, and is still doing a terrible job. Johnson said that the GOP may have done a little better under the leadership of Michael Steele, but the current leadership has simply given up on getting black votes:
I have candidates who are honest with me and they say, “Tim, I’ve had people tell me ‘Don’t worry about the black community.’” That pisses me off. When they are honest with me and say, ‘Tim, we’ve been told, ‘Don’t worry about going to the black community, they’re not going to vote for you anyway,’” that’s a bold faced lie. You don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I’m an American.
That is just unforgivable. The opportunity is here for a long term shift in the political calculus in favor of the right and very much for the betterment of black Americans as a whole. It just remains to be taken like the low hanging fruit that it is.
Update: Linked at Larwyn's Linx and What Bubba Knows. Thanks all.