The Problem With Black Conservatives

I wanted to write about black conservatives for some time. The problem I had was that I wasn’t sure if there is a great movement of black people to the right-wing politics of the Republican Party, or if it’s a media driven phenomenon. I will try to explain this.

In 2004, Bush received 11% of the black vote in the 2004 election. Many attribute those gains to the Gay Marriage and abortion issues as the major factor. It is a well known fact that blacks are socially conservative, so it is understandable why the Right would try to reach black people using a social conservative agenda rather than a politically conservative agenda. But 11% does not a movement make.

My belief is that the media is the major force behind the rise of the black conservative movement. Armstrong Williams, Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele are the prominent figures in the black conservative movement, but they do not impact policy. Ward Connerly and Clarence Thomas are figures that directly impact the lives of black people but they do nothing to endear black people to the Republican Party.

So what is really going on with the black conservative movement? It is my opinion that the black conservative movement is mainly one of high-profile black people in the media and bloggers. The media has a way of manufacturing a crisis and they can certainly create a superstar out of anyone. And it is not beyond them to create a national movement when none exists. This I believe is the major thrust behind the black conservative movement. There is an outreach by Republicans to the black church but again, I think it is easy to rally black people on social conservative issues but getting those same black people to the polls to vote Republican is something totally different.

Outside the media, black conservatives have no platform to contribute to the discussion of the state of black America. At the 2004 RNC, black Republicans made up only 17% of the delegates. There are no black Republicans in Congress and at the local level there is not a single black Republican elected to office where a majority of the constituents are black. This is an observation made by Tom Delay.

“Until the Republican Party is able to have black candidates win, not only in black districts but in white districts, only then will we begin to regain some authority on the race issue.” – Tom Delay
(Source: Armstrong Williams)

Colin Powell and J.C. Watts were the best spokesmen the GOP had. But I believe Powell lost interested in pursing politics after being marginalized by the Bush administration and the GOP stymied Watts when he sought the leadership position in the House. Neither action is ringing endorsements on inclusions on the GOP’s part.

The Black Conservative’s Problem:

Let me make this clear, I am not against any black person being a part of the Republican Party… I just don’t get the appeal. The conservative motto of “rejecting the victimized mindset and welfare state of the left” is tired and it doesn’t impact legislation at all. And as strong as the media is, legislation is where the power is at with any movement. Woman’s Suffrage impacted legislation. The Civil Rights Movement resulted in legislation. Black conservatives may have a platform to espouse their views but they have no power to impact legislation on a national level.

A problem that black conservatives have (and I do have to distinguish between black conservatives and black Republicans) is that many of them sound like the angry white men that dominate the talk radio. If Alan Keyes, Ward Connerly, Larry Elder and Clarence Thomas are what they have to offer, I don’t think many black people will listen. This is a problem because the Republican Party could actually make headway with younger African Americans.

The politically active people in my generation and the generation behind me are not married to the Democrats. I believe a good number of black people consider themselves Independents. Therefore, there is an opening for the GOP. But they will have to approach with ideas for change and not with the disparaging comments that often are attached to the rhetoric of many black conservatives. And they will also have to overcome the legitimate argument of the Republican party endorsing ideas that man black Americans support. There is also the history of the Republican Party that they must reconcile with blacks.

Many black conservatives jump to the fact that it was the Republican Party that freed the slaves. And they also bring up the fact that it was southern Democrats that fought Civil Rights. Both points are true. But Berry Goldwater changed the dynamics of the Republican Party to one that was outwardly hostile to black people. The actions of Presidents Nixon and Reagan didn’t help. It is the recent history that they must contend with and many are not will to do so.

If black conservatives want to make their case then they will have to get off the airwaves, blogs and editorial pages of newspapers and start winning some elections. Not just win elections in state legislator seats, but win some nations Congressional seats as well. Campaign in predominantly black communities and challenge the ideas of the Democrats. Currently, elected black conservatives must rely on white people of like-minds to win local elections. However, if the are to make progress with the rest of black America, they will have to campaign on Chicago's west side, in west Philadelphia and in Harlem. And they would be well advised to leave the rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and anyone on the Fox network in the beltway where people find that song and dance entertaining


8 Responses to The Problem With Black Conservatives

  1. MEP Says:
    Lol, Alan Keyes. I forgot about him (although I just remembered that he tried to run again Barack Obama). My mom made us go to one of Keyes' presidential rallies when I was younger. I guess I do also remember debating about Keyes vs. Obabma around election time. We rarely talk politics though because she is very conservative.
  2. Cynthia Says:
    I don't see the appeal that blacks have for the Republican Party either. As far as the abolishment of slavery, Good ole Abe Lincoln was trying to punish the southern states for trying to succeed from the union. This is why slavery was abolished. He promised us 40 acres and a mule because he thought (Ole Abe) we should be segregated from the white society just like the Native Americans. In essence, we were not good enough to mingle in with whites. Now, if ole Abe had lived, no telling what type of land we would have been on. I don't give the Republican Party credit for anything. As soon as the Democrats started giving us some civil rights, all of those Democrats who were against civil rights for blacks jumped ship and went over to the Republican Party. So the argument that the Democrats were against civil rights is a moot point because those people are now part of the Republican Party. Caput!
  3. Dell Gines Says:
    Good post man. Thanks for stopping by my spot I think we are on the same wave length in much of this topic. I think conservative ideology is similar to black self-help ideology as taught by Marcus, Malcolm, the NOI and alot of other heavy brothers, however those brothers were able to put it in the context of being black in a white supremacist society. Todays Negro-Cons, or BCC's (Black Concussed Conservatives) refuse to acknowledge and or address the real issue of racism past and present and its effect on our social condition.

    Nice blog.
  4. Chocolate Republican Says:
    Don't confuse the principles of the Republican Party with conservatism. They are not one in the same. The "Christian Right" and anti-abortion advocates are a recent construct of the modern Republican Party, in the past 20-30 years. I don't know many people that would be opposed to the core principles of the Republican Party.

    Chocolate Republican.
    Black first, partisan second.
  5. James Manning Says:
    I don't disagre with you on that CR. But right now, the conservatives rule the Republican Party.
  6. Lisa Gilliam Says:
    I am still registered a Democrat but I consider myself independent.I do agree with what you said James about the GOP kicking us to the curb.But,I do feel it is time for Black folks to come out of the sixties.Too many especially in the civil rights movement are still there,Our organizations are in a time warp;they are ill equipped to handle the problems that we as blacks face,also some positions that blacks take are too morally reprehensible like being soft on criminals,and always looking for racism around every corner.I happen to be a huge fan of Thomas Sowell,but our community disses Black Republicans such he and I think he is a class act;he doesn't come off as a moonbat like Alan Keyes and others.He is also a marine which gets him very far in my book as well.I've listened to Rush Limbaugh and he isn't the stark raving loon that the left has tried to make him out be.also the Marxists in our communities aren't helping us either.Explain to me why the Black elites will invite Castro to church and just kiss his butt when he is here in the states,but,most of these same folks don't even realize that most of the people catching hell in Cuba are Black!I trust Amiri Baraka's as far as I can throw a ball.I know we can have two extremes and being on the left side of the isle now isn't helpful to black folks.
  7. James Manning Says:
    Lisa, I agree with you 100%. But I think Rush is a raving lunatic and a liar for the most part. I'm not sure what the problem is with whacked out leftist, but we do need to stop that. Sometimes the causes we take up hinder our political progress and takes away from legitimate concerns. I may have to blog about that.

    Thanks for commenting on these old post. Glad to know that they can still get a response.
  8. right wing Gene Says:
    And the DNC has done what?