going into the election cycle, Republicans have announced they hope to win
25 percent of the black vote. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has
great expectations. “If we get African American votes, [the Democrats] are
in deep trouble,” he told the Washington Post. Not just any trouble. Deep trouble, he says.
Columnist Jonetta Rose Barras agrees, citing black voters’ growing dissatisfaction
with the Democratic Party that resulted in Arnold Schwarzenegger winning
17 percent of the vote and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg garnering 22
The statistics portend good things for Republicans. According to the oft-cited
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies 2002 political survey, 63
percent of blacks self-identified themselves as Democrats (down from 74 percent
in 2000), 24 percent self-identified as Independents (up from 20 percent
in 2000) and 10 percent self-identified as Republicans (up from 4 percent
Regardless of how blacks self-identify, however, Democrats consistently get
90 percent of their vote. Why? Years of damage caused by liberal ideology
and misinformation pumped into the black community for the past 25 years.
Memo to Republicans: Popping up in black church services and doing sound
bites on urban radio won’t cut it.
Blacks have been lied to about the history of the Republican party and civil
rights. Historically, blacks voted for Republicans because Democrats were
blatantly anti-civil rights (and in some ways still are). For example, “radical”
Republicans of the 1860s supported slavery’s end in America, the Civil Rights
Acts of 1866 and 1964 were opposed by Democrats (Senator Robert Byrd participated
in a filibuster of the latter) and Jim Crow was a creation of Democrats.
In the 1960s, Democrats blocked school doorways while Republicans pushed
de-segregation legislation. In 2004, Democrats continue to block school doorways
while Republicans push school choice, the only hope many black parents have
to ensure that their kids get a decent education.
So why did blacks switch from voting for Republicans in large numbers to
voting for Democrats? Some say it was President John F. Kennedy’s perceived
sensitivity to the oppression of minorities that endeared him and the Party
to black Americans, and they’ve been voting for Democrats in droves ever
Aside from revisionist history, a more fundamental rift exists between blacks
and Republicans. The concept of limited government—a core Republican principle—is
anathema to most blacks, even wealthy, well-educated ones. Thanks to the
handiwork of Southern Democrats, blacks continue to turn to the federal government
for redress of the slightest racial grievance.
have a healthy distrust of the federal government and believe its powers
should be limited to only those enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. To most
blacks, however, limited government brings to mind “states’ rights,” which
in turn evokes images of Southern whites and their resentment of federal
intervention in local affairs during de-segregation.
The rights of the states are at the heart of a good constitutional republic,
but blacks won’t easily forget it was the federal government that enforced
their civil rights after Reconstruction, got them jobs under the New Deal
and protected them from billy clubs, dogs and water hoses in the 1960s. Do
you blame them for believing a bloated, central bureaucracy is still savior
even in 2004?
Republicans should keep emphasizing that the federal government is not supposed
to have this much control over the people. The U.S. Supreme Court most recently
usurped the will of the people by finding a non-existent Constitutional basis
for continued race discrimination, although it was legally abolished in 1964.
In 1973, they usurped the will of the people by discovering a non-existent
“right to privacy” to kill unborn babies. Favoring a strong, forceful central
government was once a matter of survival for blacks generations ago but no
Given this elemental divide between blacks and Republicans, courting them
won’t be easy. But the most important advantage Republicans have over Democrats
is that Republicans can win elections without the black vote; Democrats can’t.
In the meantime, Republicans should continue to do what they do best: defending
the country, supporting policies that foster economic growth, fighting for
the sanctity of the family, the unborn and the dignity of the individual.
Once blacks are fed up with liberal lies, fear, resentment and mistrust (and
being passed over for leadership positions), perhaps they’ll return to the
party that set them free. And once they get a taste of real freedom, Democrats
will be in trouble. Deep trouble.