In Search of a Black Republican

The comedy show Saturday Night Live used to run a skit, “In Search of a Black Republican.” The skit would show people talking at a party and just when you thought they might have found a black Republican, the search would end in disappointment. Though the skit played many years ago, the results of the November elections would suggest the same search remains largely in vain.The conventional wisdom or, more accurately, fervent hope among Republicans is that they can penetrate this Democratic strong hold and radically shift electoral politics to their benefit. Without the largely monolithic black vote in their favor, Democrats would be uncompetitive. While Republicans can manage to squeak out victories without the black vote, Democrats, as presently constituted, could not.

Even though African-American leadership is strongly Liberal, the African-American community as a whole is far more Conservative than its leadership. Especially in the inner cities, black Americans have endured Democratic leadership that has given them high taxes that still yield poorly performing schools and higher than average crime rates. It is blacks that have suffered the most from failed Democratic policy prescriptions.

As measured by church attendance, African-Americans are more religious than the rest of America. This religiosity is correlated with social Conservatism and provides another potential opening for Republicans. Republicans have believed if they could just find a way to explain to the African-American community how Republican Conservative policy principles would help address their problems, they could peal off support.

Eric Cohen writing the article “Race and the Republicans” published in the Weekly Standard argues that Republicans must do more than “criticize the excesses and destructiveness of race-based thinking.” Articulating Conservative ideology is not only insufficient but off-putting.

Republicans must engage the African-American community in a way that acknowledges their unique history and experience. Republicans must come to recognize that because of their “history of slavery and freedom, segregation and civil rights, bigotry and courage” black America “retains a special moral authority.” In essence, Republicans need to enlist the black Americans in a way that allows them to embrace and speak for a Conservative policy agenda out of that same moral authority.

For example, before his sell out to the Democratic Party establishment, Rev. Jesse Jackson used the historical experience of blacks in his critique of the abortion culture. In 1977, Cohen reports that Jackson explained, “There are those who argue that the right to privacy is [a] higher order than the right to life … That was the premise of slavery.”

Republicans need to embrace the black experience and to learn from African-Americans how their history informs and enriches Conservatism. Republicans need to allow African-Americans to claim an important measure of ownership of Conservatism. There are a number of Conservative blacks from Alan Keyes to Thomas Sowell that can help lead this movement.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.