February 1, 2005


GOP Sees a Future in Black Churches: Social issues are binding the party with a group once firmly in the Democratic camp. (Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, February 1, 2005, LA Times)

Black conservatives who supported President Bush in 2004 and gained new prominence within the Republican Party are launching a loosely knit movement that they hope will transform the role African Americans play in national politics.

The effort will be visible today at the Crenshaw Christian Center, one of Los Angeles' biggest black churches, headed by televangelist Frederick K.C. Price. More than 100 African American ministers are to gather in the first of several regional summits to build support for banning same-sex marriage — a signature issue that drew socially conservative blacks to the Republican column last year.

Before the meeting, one prominent minister plans to unveil a "Black Contract With America on Moral Values," a call for Bible-based action by government and churches to promote conservative priorities. It is patterned loosely on the "Contract With America" that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used 10 years ago to inaugurate an era of GOP dominance in Congress.

A separate group with ties to Gingrich will announce a similar "Mayflower Compact for Black America" later this month in Washington, which includes plans to organize in key states ahead of the 2006 and 2008 elections. And at the end of the month, the Heritage Foundation will cosponsor a gathering of black conservatives in Washington designed to counter dominance of the "America-hating black liberal leadership" and to focus African American voters on moral issues.

Those events all enjoy support from the Republican Party and its allies in the philanthropic and religious worlds. The meetings have a common goal: to foster a political realignment that, if successful, would challenge the Democrats' decades-long lock on the loyalty of black voters.

The effort has proved so successful already that Democrats who make up the Congressional Black Caucus are quietly expressing alarm — and planning countermeasures.

"I am frightened by what is happening," said Rep. Major R. Owens, an 11-term Democratic congressman from New York who has been conferring with colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus. "Our party is in grave danger. This Republican movement is going to expand exponentially unless we do something."

So the Democrats are going to alienate social liberals to keep blacks? Right....

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 1, 2005 7:41 AM

It is no surprise that Major Owens is frightened: massa's not in charge any more.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 1, 2005 9:41 AM

On NPR this morning, Julian Bond said that these were "blackface" groups with black puppets on front but white hands on the strings.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 1, 2005 9:44 AM

So once again the argument is that the only party with Black America's interests at heart is the same party who in the past gave it Jim Crow, the poll tax, and open endorsement of the Klan. Do the pundits and politicians even realize what they say when they take these positions?

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 1, 2005 10:11 AM

I see Robert Byrd's hands on Julian Bonds.

And Ted Kennedy's, and John Kerry's, and Terry Mcualiffe's, and Nancy Pelosi's, and Harry Reid's, and Barbara Boxer's, and Hillary Clinton's, and Charles Schumer's, and Howard Dean's, and on and on and on.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 1, 2005 10:16 AM

We can already see acknowledgement by the party leaders that the Democratic Party cannot be defined by social issues. In two years this will be acknowledged, and you will see pro-life Democrats and anti-gay marriage Democrats and they will not be ostracized. Of course, the social liberals will still expect to be in charge, and probably will be in the short term. But they have lost this battle.

What will take longer is agreement on what issues and what specific proposals will become the new binding platform. It may not happen by 2008, but it will be in place by 2012.

Blacks will probably no longer vote 90% Democrat, but that is good for both parties. A GOP which has a black constituency is a GOP that can be counted upon as preserving civil rights. With both parties being seen as such, the Democrats finally will have cover to perform a purge on the race baiters which will enhance their prospects.

George W. Bush is not the GOP's FDR, but their LBJ - an electoral high water mark. The conservative ascendency that began with Reagan has run its course. The GOP will probably be good for another decade or so as the Democrats search for the next political mastermind that can unite the party and fashion an appealing platform. At that point, really competitive politics will begin again.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at February 1, 2005 10:42 AM

Black people in Atlanta don't care what Julian Bond has to say so why should we? You probably can't get more separate from the Black experience than Bond is, he looks like he goes in for bleachings with the same regularity as Michael Jackson. His entire career is that he can hang out with the armchair Bolsheviks on the Upper West Side and speak their language and enjoy their food, One can't even imagine him at a church picnic.'Excuse me, do you have any Grey Poupon?'

Chris, the Dems have no other source of money than people who are social liberals or who see the Democrats as a means of achieving some oddball social cause like Saving the Whales or Legalized Pot. It will be impossible for them to turn their backs to the social liberal extremists, they will have no more ability to be a party. They've thrown labor over the side, they are out of power so Big Business won't return their phone calls, so what's left?

The war in Iraq lost votes for Bush overall but particularly among younger voters. A reasonably successful conclusion, like we are seeing in Afghanistan, to the Iraq war will add a solid 5-7 points to the GOP total. The Democrats have dropped the ball on economics, they've punted on defense/anti-terror, and they are losing ground on social issues. They haven't finished their free fall yet and it looks like they are so addicted to Hollywood, trendnoid and weirdo money that they will never stop falling.

Posted by: Bart at February 1, 2005 10:58 AM

Only a decade or so? That could be an optimistic prediction; I remember articles written in the late '80s/ early '90s (the names of the authors I cannot recall, if I ever knew them) claiming that the next great Democrat did not yet hold elected office, and might not be old enough to RUN for office. (Remember that such analysis excludes Bill Clinton as a great Democrat; greatness means more than getting elected.)

Not sure if I agree with that, but you must admit that at present the talent pool of nationally-known Democrats is exceedingly shallow. (Were it not, John Kerry would not have survived the primaries.) Barring some Bush megaton scandal in the next three years, Democratic prospects for the White House in 2008 do not seem to be better than they were in 2004, and the likely candidates form a weak field indeed. Hillary carries the baggage of her husband (while his positives seem to fade over time), Lieberman has never been able to attract much attention, Barack Obama strikes me as very average, and Andrew Cuomo, once considered a rising star, would have a hard time getting elected in New York.

More troubling for them, with the exception of Obama all of the minority political figures on the ascent seem to be Republican. Who is the Democratic equivilant of Condoleezza? Estrada? Gonzalez? Janice Rogers Brown? The Women's Caucus, once a major strength for Democrats, now seems populated by lightweights, and name recognition remains a problem for many Democrats. So weak seem their prospects at the moment that I suspect a Michael Moore candidacy would generate a stronger buzz than most of the candidates I've mentioned, perhaps exceeding even Hillary. And if they thought Moore had a chance of being elected, it would hardly surprise me if some party wheel has talked to him about this. A decade of Republican dominance? It could be rather longer than that.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 1, 2005 11:18 AM

Chris Durnell: "GOP which has a black constituency is a GOP that can be counted upon as preserving civil rights"

Is not this a false sterotype? You are saying the curent GOP is aginst civil rights. I am sure Julian Bond thinks so. I don't. I don't think Colin Powell or Condi Rice think so either.

Posted by: Bob at February 1, 2005 11:48 AM

The Dem party, as currently constituted, ceases to exist if the R's get 30% of the black vote. 8 years of W and this goes from a dream to a light at the end of the tunnel.

Bush walks his talk in terms of not wanting to pit people against eachother on affirmative action, yet getting the best people for the job. He's already past the point where anybody can accuse him of tokenism -- a charge for which his predecessor was obviously guilty. Add to the mix social security reform, which will help blacks who have lower life expectancies, cultural conservatism which appeals to the most conservative cohort in the electorate (as David Brooks put it - -they still drive Cadilacs and dress up for church) and the fact that younger African Americans have had a different life experience than their parents. Then ask yourself if you're a young person looking to make a career in politics, which party provides more opportunity?

If I were Dem chairman, a 'stop loss' strategy here would be my top priority. But then, where would I raise money?

Posted by: JAB at February 1, 2005 9:06 PM