January 31, 2006
Republicans and Blacks
new black political figure is emerging in Ohio -- Ken Blackwell,
a solid, pro-life conservative who has fought for lower taxes.
He is seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Ohio and
polls indicate that he has substantial support.
Ohio's Republicans are a lot like Ohio's Democrats -- both are
for higher taxes. On this and other issues, Blackwell is described
in the current issue of City Journal as "often at
war with his own party as well as the Democrats."
Party has not had much success attracting black votes in recent
decades and conservative blacks have not had an easy time in the
voted so overwhelmingly for Democrats for so long that Republicans
have few incentives to try to gain black votes -- and little success
when they do.
inertia can be powerful. The "solid South" voted consistently
for Democrats for more than a century. Today, the Jewish vote
is just as automatically for Democrats as the black vote is, and
with even less reason, since Jews have little to gain from the
welfare state and Israel's strongest supporters are religious
from time to time try to reach out to blacks, they tend to do
so ineptly, if not ridiculously. For reasons unknown, they seem
to want to appeal to black voters in the same ways that Democrats
appeal to black voters, by adopting a liberal stance.
anyone who wants liberalism go for a Republican imitation when
they can get the real thing from Democrats? Republicans do not
have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the votes of liberal
they likely to win a majority of the black vote as a whole any
time soon. But if Republicans can get just a fourth or a fifth
of the black vote nationwide, that can shift the balance of power
decisively in their favor.
It is not
rocket science to see that whatever chances the Republicans have
of making inroads into the black vote are likely to be better
among more conservative blacks.
groups opposed to abortion or homosexual marriage are an obvious
group to try to reach. So are black business owners or military
think that President Bush's awarding a Medal of Freedom to Muhammad
Ali was likely to appeal to such groups? Yet this continues a
pattern in which Republicans have tried to approach black voters
from the left.
1997, when black Republican Congressman J.C. Watts denounced people
like Jesse Jackson and then D.C. mayor Marion Barry as "race-hustling
poverty pimps," House Speaker Newt Gingrich took it upon
himself to apologize to Jesse Jackson.
for what another man said is to treat that man as if he were your
child or your servant. Gingrich then added further insult by inviting
Jesse Jackson to join him in his box for the Clinton inauguration
for his second term as president.
the rug out from under your friends, in order to appease your
enemies, may seem like clever politics to some people. But what
could possibly have led Republicans to think that pro-Jesse Jackson
blacks were ever going to vote for them?
think that conservative blacks who might have voted for them were
more likely to do so when Republicans embraced Jesse Jackson?
Did they think that conservative blacks who might have considered
becoming Republican candidates were more likely to do so after
seeing how J.C. Watts had been treated?
conservative black Republican who had the rug pulled out from
under him was Michael Williams, when he was in charge of civil
rights at the Department of Education. Mr. Williams ruled that
setting aside scholarships exclusively for minority students was
racial discrimination in violation of civil rights laws.
ruling was over-ruled in the first Bush administration, leaving
Michael Williams with egg on his face.
candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor in Ohio is
a golden opportunity for Republicans, not only in that state but
on the national political scene as well. Still, Mr. Blackwell
would do well to watch his back.
2006 Creators Syndicate