January 13, 2005


Republicans Come Up Short Courting Black Conservatives (Terry M. Neal, January 10, 2005, Washington Post)

Former pro football great Reggie White built a reputation for dazzling people off the field as well as on by the time of his death last month at a mere 43 years of age.

White, who retired from the NFL four years ago as one of the most respected and feared defensive players in league history, was also an ordained Baptist minister whose public statements on matters of politics and values echoed those of a great many blacks who are conservative on social and cultural issues. In 2000, in fact, White endorsed Gary Bauer, perhaps the most socially conservative candidate in that year's Republican presidential primary.

And yet the Republican Party's inability to make significant inroads among socially conservative African-Americans such as White is one of the enduring political realities of our time. [...]

Recent polls show that blacks are more likely than whites to oppose gay marriage. As my colleague Darryl Fears reported in The Washington Post just before the November election, "A study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that since 2000, black Protestants have become far less likely than other Protestant groups to believe that gays should have equal rights. Black Protestant support for gay rights dipped to a low of 40 percent this year, down from 65 percent in 1996 and 59 percent in 1992."

And there are other indicators of the black electorate's social conservatism. For instance, black support for school vouchers is essentially equal to that of the general population, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank based in Washington.

So why don't more blacks vote for Republicans? [...]

One of the reasons more blacks don't vote Republican, some analysts say, is that when it comes to "values," many black voters remain convinced that the GOP is less moral than the Democratic party on social and economic justice issues. Those issues -- from tax cuts, to school funding, to affirmative action -- combined with the general feeling that Republicans are hostile to the interests of African Americans, outweigh the social values the two groups may share.

Democratic pollster Ron Lester, who is black, said that the black electorate is more religious and more conservative than the black population as a whole, with as many as 80 percent of black voters identifying themselves as church-goers.

"I think there is a lot of compatibility and similarity between a lot of the positions that black folks take in terms of social issues and issues advocated by the Republicans," Lester said. "But it hasn't translated into political gains for the Republican Party because they are viewed as being out of touch with the black community on many levels. And they are viewed as having a real mean-spiritedness about them. Remember back in the 1980s when they were cutting school lunches and child immunizations? And it continues today with the Patriot Act and racial profiling and just a general disconnect."

Issues of racial justice and equality also keep blacks and Republicans from connecting with one another, despite the shared social values, said D'Linell Finley, a political science professor at Auburn University-Montgomery.

"If you look at the Republican economic agenda and most of their policies in regard to racial issues or minority issues as they relate to blacks in particular, Republican's will support the kind of economic and financial programs that work against blacks," Finley said.

The Patriot Act? Has anyone black ever been charged under the Patriot Act?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 13, 2005 2:31 PM

One of my former colleagues was a black woman, regular churchgoer, personally very socially conservative (did not cohabit with her fiance before the wedding, for example), father is an architect, sister is a pediatrician, who had nonetheless worked on the Hillary! for Senate campaign while in law school.

She honestly believed that there's just as much crime in Beverly Hills as in Watts, and that it's just not reported where the rich white folks live. She honestly believed that the slaveholding Founders' views on you-name-it were completely irrelevant to anything. And she honestly believed that pretty much all cops were racists out to make life miserable for blacks, including especially upper-middle-class blacks driving BMWs.

This is not untypical of the black attorneys I know. Which is not to say it is typical or untypical of black America as a whole. But there is pretty much nothing you can do to convince some people of your good faith, and after the first couple of times they accuse you of racism because you disagree with them, it gets old.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at January 13, 2005 2:45 PM



Sorry, cannot get beyond the apostrophe error to think about the substance.

Posted by: kevin whited at January 13, 2005 3:09 PM

Was Malvo and whats-his-name charged under the patriot act? There was that clique (black folk) in Washington state that were charged in the same time frame as the Patriot Act. By the way I don't even know what the Patriot Act is all about anyway other than to see if you check out dirty books at the library.

Posted by: h-man at January 13, 2005 3:13 PM

H: Basically it made a bunch of stuff legal that, if someone had told you they were illegal, you would have thought they were nuts.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 13, 2005 3:46 PM

With patience and perseverance, Republicans will persuade the bulk of the black electorate to vote for what they already believe and how they already live. At that point the wheels come off the liberal project.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 13, 2005 4:17 PM

Well, one thing we do know is that now that he's dead he'll be voting Democrat.

Posted by: David Reeves at January 13, 2005 4:19 PM

Blacks will vote Republican after they see concrete achievements for their communities done by Republicans. Even though the Party of Lincoln pretty much abandoned blacks after the 1876 election, they still voted Republican regularly. That only changed when FDR's New Deal gave them actual benefits. But blacks still did not abandon the GOP then. It was only in the 1960's when JFK called MLK in jail, but Richard Nixon did not, that the tide turned. And when LBJ pushed through the Civil Rights and Voting Acts in 1964 that blacks became a reliable bloc in the Democratic party.

When there are real specific achievements, then blacks will begin to vote Republican in large numbers. In the meantime, Republicans complaining that blacks don't vote their interests (because they vote Democrat) is exactly the same as when Democrats complain lower-class Americans doesn't vote their interests (because they vote Republican).

Posted by: Chris Durnell at January 13, 2005 6:53 PM

It is not that Blacks are being charged under the Patriot Act. It is rather that Blacks qua Blacks choose to define themselves as part of the contrarian, folk-enemy coalition. To an outsider, such as a homosexual or citizen of Azteclan, anything which weaken the motherland of the True West is good, even Islamicist terrorism.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 14, 2005 11:02 AM