Archive for August, 2004

Failure of Campaign Finance Reform

Sunday, August 29th, 2004

It was not as if both the circumvention of “campaign finance reform” and the effect of this purported reform on the political process had not been foretold. When Congress passed the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance law and when the political parties, as a consequence, were financially emasculated, two things happened. First, those who wanted to exercise their free speech rights and influence the political process, by using their own money to fund political causes, found other modalities to join together and organize. Second, the ability to control their own political message moved away from candidates and parties to other, usually more extreme groups. As a consequence, the electorate has become more polarized.

Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code allows independent groups to accumulate unlimited amounts of money for the purpose of voicing their opinions, so long as these organizations do not explicitly call for the election or defeat of a candidate. Of course, one can directly influence an election without specifically calling for the defeat or election of a particular candidate. The only way campaign finance limitations can pass constitutional muster under the current Supreme Court, is to argue that there is a strong public interest in avoiding political corruption. As a consequence, independently rich people can finance their own campaigns irrespective of campaign finance laws; they cannot corrupt themselves. This puts the less affluent at a distinct disadvantage.

If a campaign finance law is written too broadly, then it becomes harder to argue that the law is only avoiding the appearance of corruption and is not just limiting inconvenient speech. If such a law is written more narrowly, it must allow alternate avenues for political speech. Hence, money flows to these “527” groups.

These 527 groups tend to attract the most passionate and sometimes the most extreme partisans. Unlike parties that try to field candidates across the entire country, and, therefore, tend to eschew the most extreme viewpoints, these 527 groups are narrowly focused institutions who care less for party affiliation and more for ideological purity. As money and speech flow to these outside groups, the moderating and ameliorating influences of traditional political parties attenuate.

In the current election cycle, we now have the insertion of millions of dollars through these groups. So long as these groups on the Left were out spending groups on the Right by six-to-one and so long as their ads suggested that Bush was lying to the American people, the main stream press did not seem too concerned. However, when a modestly-funded group of Vietnam veterans challenges Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry’s description of his Vietnam service, the world wrings its hands about the pernicious influence of these independent groups. Republican Senator John McCain and, to his discredit, President George Bush are pushing to limit 527 groups. At the same time, the Kerry campaign is mounting its own effort to silence inconvenient dissent, by trying to persuade publishers not to publish the book Unfit for Command. Politicians should rarely be trusted to determine which speech and expression are permissible.

For the purposes of argument, let us assume that those veterans who are now criticizing Kerry are mean-spirited ideologues who hate their wives and kick their dogs, the ethos of a free society still grants them the same permission to speak as billionaire George Soros and his Leftist followers. Seeking additional ways to limit 527 groups either will not succeed or the effort will limit First Amendment rights.

Perhaps the only way to restore the moderating influence of political parties is to abandon the current regime of campaign finance reform, save for the public reporting of donors.

Destructive Anger

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

“Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.” — Aristotle.

To even the inattentive or preoccupied, Ronald Prescott Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Wilson Reagan, is outwardly his father’s son.  You can see it in their shared confident gate.  You can see it in their famous and endearing Reagan smiles.  You can even appreciate it in the same way they shake their head and say, “Well.”  However, on a more fundamental level, in their world views, in their personalities, in their decency, they could not be more radically different.

Ron Junior is not only a liberal, but radically so. He has been active in the “Creative Coalition,” a Left-wing group to politically organize artists. Ron Junior voted for Ralph Nader in 2000; Gore was not liberal enough for him. The elder Reagan was not only a Conservative, but “Mr. Conservative.”  Ron Junior is a self-proclaimed atheist, while his father was a quietly religious man. These are important intellectual and essential spiritual differences. Though such differences can vastly separate two people, the hope can remain that through honest dialog some differences might be bridged and those that remain may at least not be the source of prolonged bitterness. But unfortunately, there are ironic and sad dissimilarities in the temperament and dispositions of the former president and his namesake.

Ron Junior had it right when he said of his father when eulogizing him, “He was the most plainly decent man you could ever hope to meet… Dad treated everyone with the same unfailing courtesy.”  It would have been out of character for President Reagan to have descended into the personal vituperative attacks of a political adversary in the same way that Ron Junior has done with respect to President George W. Bush. When exasperated, a smile would crawl across the elder Reagan’s face as he would light up and lament, “There you go again.” By contrast, most are repelled by the single-minded bitterness of the younger Reagan when he says of the current Administration, “they traffic in big lies, indulge in any number of symptomatic small lies, and, ultimately, have come to embody dishonesty itself. They are a lie.”

Upon what evidence does the younger Reagan assert this pervasive mendacity?  In a recent opinion piece, “The Case Against George W. Bush,” that appears in Esquire, Ron Junior cites George Bush’s presidential 2000 campaign when Bush eschewed an activist foreign policy, with the US actively confronting adversaries across the world.  Now, Bush has deployed troops to Afghanistan and then Iraq.  This might suggest to a reasonable person a dishonest election campaign by a closet internationalist, that is, if the United States had not been attacked on September 11, 2001.  The one most crucial event in the twenty-first century and the younger Reagan seems to have ignored the obvious explanation for the change in Bush’s approach.

Then, of course, there is the shop-worn argument that since we have not yet accounted for large stock piles weapons of mass destruction [1] that the Administration was deceitful. However, this ignores the fact that the former President Bill Clinton [2], the Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton [3], the Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry [4], and the British, French, German, and Russian intelligence services had all reached the same conclusion.  Indeed, the evidence for WMD in Iraq was stronger and clearer than the evidence that there would be an attack on 9/11 that Ron Junior criticizes Bush for missing.

Some of the younger Reagan’s claims are so demonstrably false and misleading that one wonders why he could not be a more skilled polemicist.  For example, Ron Junior writes, “If you are dead center on the earning scale in real-world twenty-first-century America, you make a bit less than $32,000 a year, and $32,000 is not a sum that Mr. Bush has ever associated with getting by in his world.”  What specifically is the complaint that justifies the ad hominem attack?  That level of income is comparable to the incomes during the previous Administration.  Moreover the $32,000 number represents a median wage, including teenagers living at home. The median household income in the country is closer to $50,000 and actually rises to $62,000 for a 4-person household.  The $32,000 figure alone is not false, but certainly does not provide a real context and the single use of this number does not suggest a person who wishes to seriously debate.

Does Ron Junior mean to imply that George Bush is some rich kid with no concern for those who have had a harder life? Surely, young Ron has also benefited from an affluent upbringing in a famous family.  Does that make Ron Junior unsympathetic to those who are less fortunate?  Does it make Senator John Kerry, whose economic fortunes have been enhanced by marrying two heiresses, a mean-spirited multi-millionaire unable to recognize the challenges that face those of lesser means?  One can be rich and cold-hearted, but Ron Junior certainly does not offer evidence to smear George Bush with that charge.

Ron Junior believes the Bush mendacity began during the 2000 election because Gore “would spend valuable weeks explaining away statements —`I invented the Internet’ — that he never made in the first place.” What Gore actually said was “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”  Close enough.

Surely, Ron Junior should be a little more careful in making charges that are so easily refuted.  Of Fox News he says, “…a staff member at Fox News — the cable-TV outlet of the Bush White House — told me a year ago that mere mention of bin Laden’s name was forbidden within the company, lest we be reminded that the actual bad guy remained at large.”  A quick online check refutes this notion.  Fox had many stories about bin Laden from September 11, 2001 to the present, even an interview with his mistress almost exactly a year ago.  This is hardly the activity of a network that does not mention bin Laden’s name. Ron Junior would not have made this simple and embarrassing mistake, if he had simply watched Fox News as opposed to relying on an unnamed staff member.

Some day we may grow weary of pointing out the fundamental inaccuracy employed by Ron Junior and almost daily by others about the 2000 elections, but not today.  The false assertion is that in the words of Ron Junior a “cabal of right-wing justices” delivered the White House to Bush. It seems that “denial” is not just a river in Egypt.  The local Florida judges, the determiners of fact in election cases, all denied Gore additional recounts.  It was a highly partisan Florida Supreme Court made up entirely of Democrats, who made up new deadlines and election rules along the way.  But even if one disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision in the Bush v. Gore case, subsequent recounts by US Today and by the Miami Herald confirm that an additional recount as requested by Gore would have still resulted in a Bush electoral victory [5].  Get over it.

Of course, the greatest irony of all is that Ron Junior has aligned himself with that part of the political spectrum that treated his father with the same anger and disdain he now reserves for George W. Bush.  It was President Ronald Reagan that was originally portrayed as the “amiable dunce” who was the pawn of nefarious people behind the scenes, like Bush is now.  It was President Ronald Reagan who was called a liar by the Left for the Iran-Contra scandal, like Bush is now. It was President Ronald Reagan that the Left accused of war crimes for his support of the Contras, much as Bush is now.  But then perhaps the younger Reagan is not totally inconsistent.  He did not vote for his own father in 1984.

  1. It can no longer be said that there are no WMD, some 30 chemical shells have been found
  2. “The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow.” — Bill Clinton in 1998.
  3. “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.” — Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002.
  4. “I would disagree with John McCain that it’s the actual weapons of mass destruction he may use against us, it’s what he may do in another invasion of Kuwait or in a miscalculation about the Kurds or a miscalculation about Iran or particularly Israel. Those are the things that — that I think present the greatest danger. He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It’s the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat.” — John Kerry, September 15, 2002.
  5. Perhaps Ron Junior has been watching too many movies and not enough Fox News.  In Michael Moore’s “documentary ” Fahrenheit 9/11 an altered front page of the Illinois Pantagraph newspaper appeared and the paper is suing for the misrepresentation.  They are asking for $1 and an apology. The paper claims that the film shows a December 19, 2001 headline “Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election.” Actually the words were from December 5, and did not appear as a headline on the front page, but rather in much smaller type as a label for a letter to the editor. The letter represented the opinion of the writer not the reporting of the paper. It would seem that if the case against Bush were so compelling, the use of juvenile distortions by Moore would not be necessary.

Diverging Employment Indices and Politics

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

When President Jimmy Carter was running against President Gerald Ford in 1976, the economy was by most standards doing very poorly, and Carter wanted to focus on this condition to make his case for the presidency. In the process, he coined the term “misery index.” Typically, unemployment and inflation tend to run in counter cycles with one running higher, while the other runs lower. In the 1970’s, we suffered under both high inflation and high unemployment and the sum of the two is what Carter defined as the misery index. Carter’s new index had a saliency because it was easy to understand and it reflected the sad concurrent economic experience of most people.

Carter inherited an historically high misery index in the low teens from Ford, but managed to steer the economy into a misery index over twenty before handing over to President Reagan an economy at a misery index in the high teens. The misery index plummeted thoughout Reagan’s two terms. Reagan’s second term ended at the post-war average of ten for the misery index. We have either been just a little over ten or substantially below that figure since then. Indeed, the first four years of George W. Bush’s Administration had a lower misery index than Clinton’s first four years.

The current misery index is about where it was when Bush took office despite an inherited recession and the attacks of September 11. The current inflation rate of about one percentage point less than is less than the post-war mean of 4.4% and the current unemployment rate of 5.5% is less than the post-war average of 6.4%

Under these conditions, the traditional misery index was useless as a political bludgeon to go after Bush. Hence, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry yielded to the temptation to conjure up a new misery index. Kerry’s index was so contorted and convoluted that it made Jimmy Carter’s record of double digit inflation and double digit unemployment (and should we add double-digit interest rates) appear to be better than our current, comparatively benign conditions. Not even Democratic partisans bought into the index because it was more likely to highlight Kerry’s intellectual dishonesty than it was to persuade people that Carter’s economic experience of the 1970’s was to be preferred. Voters were not convinced in 1980 that the economy was doing well when they dumped Carter in a landslide and they were not likely to be convinced that conditions are worse now.

While the employment rate, the traditional measure of unemployment, has been steadily declining, Democrats reverted to citing to everyone who would listen, the payroll survey numbers. This employment index shows a net decrease of 1.1 million jobs since Bush assumed office. Now, in fairness the peak in employment in the payroll survey data came in late 2000 and the downward trend began before Bush took office. Indeed, during the first year of the Bush term, which included not only an inherited recession but the September 11 attacks the total employment as measured by the payroll survey dropped by 1.7 million. The employment bottomed out in August 2003. With fits and starts, the payroll employment survey indicates that 1.5 million jobs have been added in the last year.

However, the payroll survey is not the only measure of employment published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau also computes an employment index based on household surveys. They literally call 60,000 households and ask them if they are employed. This last month, the payroll survey showed just a 32,000 increase in employment, while the household survey showed a 600,000 person employment increase. Indeed, this latter measure has show a significant increase of 1.8 million in total employment over the last four years. This represents an over 3 million person disparity between the two employment indices. This clearly represents more than statistical fluctuations between the two surveys. Thise recent divergence between the surveys has puzzled economists.

Economists have generally preferred to use the payroll survey because the sample size (400,000) is larger, reducing the month-to-month sampling variability and the two surveys have tracked reasonably well in the past. However, there is more to accuracy than statistical sampling errors. Part of the problem may be associated with the fact that the press has been focusing primarily on the preliminary rather than revised monthly numbers. The payroll survey is often revised months even years later. These revisions have often been dramatic. The payroll employment survey for 1992 was adjusted so many times in the following two years that 1992 (the last recovery) went from showing a net job loss to a net gain. Hence, the payroll survey is a much better retrospective tool than when considered in “real-time.”

It is also well known that certain corrections have to be made to the payroll survey data. If during a single month a person moves from one job to another, that employee is counted twice. This will tend to inflate the payroll survey data. Attempts are made to adjust for this. However, if during different parts of the business cycle, employed people are more or less apt to switch jobs than average, it can introduce biases in the survey. In addition, self employment and employment in new firms is often missed in the preliminary payroll survey measurements, but caught in the household survey. However, unemployed people may report themselves a “self-employed” perhaps out of denial.

All these are rather technical issues and there is not doubt that the Bureau of Labor Statistics does a professional and credible job attempting to capture snapshots of the state of the dynamic and diverse economy. However, the question must be asked why an esoteric and heretofore little known statistic has gained such prominence. One cannot blame Democrats for trying to use it because, of the three employment measures: the employment rate, the payroll survey, and the household survey, the payroll survery was the single most politically exploitable. Partisans often pick and choose indices to suit their purposes. However, one can blame the press for grasping on to this particular index, downplaying the more traditional unemployment rate without a clear reason why.

At the very least, attention should have been given the different measures of employment and their respective advantages and disadvantages. These indices must be considered in the light of other measures like the number of unemployment claims, withholding tax receipts, and indices of real earnings. One wishes that the national media would devote the same level of professionalism to covering economic statistics as the Bureau of Labor Statistics exhibits in their creation and maintenance. In the end of course, reporting on the economy can only effect perceptions at the margins. Though the margins can be important in close elections, by-and-large, people vote based on their personal economic experiences not on indices.


  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Kane, T., Diverging Employment Data, The Heritage Foundation, March 4, 2004.

Kerry’s Vietnam Service

Sunday, August 8th, 2004

During the recent presidential campaign it seems that every time someone asks Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry his position on any issue, he discovers a new way to steer the conversation to his Vietnam War record. Ask what is position was with respect to Iraq and you would find out he won a Silver Star in Vietnam. Ask what his position is on taxes and you would learn that Kerry also earned a Bronze Star. Question Kerry about his position on gay marriage and you would find out that he earned purple hearts “thrice.” OK, he really is not that compulsive, but his war record is a reoccurring theme in his campaign. Frankly, if that is part of your biography, a candidate would be foolish not to exploit it to the point of bringing along your “band of brothers” on campaign stops.

To show you how much things have reverse themselves, Clinton ran twice against honest-to-goodness war heroes: George H. W. Bush and Robert Dole. Democrats had no problem asserting that draft avoider Clinton was a qualified Commander-in-Chief and Republicans where anxious to gleefully point to the war experience of their candidates.

Now a number of veterans who at least served in the proximity of Kerry have publicly called into question just how heroic Kerry was. Given the distance in time and the fog of war and barring the revelation of contemporaneous evidence, it is probably not possible to ascertain with any degree of certainty the details of those years. Since Kerry was awarded the Bronze and Silver Star officially, the only reasonable conclusion is to take those events at their face failure and cede Kerry the glory attendant those awards. Valor in service is at least peripherally related to anticipated service as Commander-in-chief.

The fact that parties and candidates have been limited in campaign spending has encouraged the formation of independent groups and some of these will continue arguing about Kerry’s war record. One of the negative and very much predicted consequences of campaign finance reform is that these independent groups can take over a campaign. Depending on one’s level of cynicism, an independent group can act as a proxy saying negative things about an opponent that a candidate’s campaign would not want to take responsibility for, or it can muddy the themes a candidate the group is nominally in favor of wishes to use.

Much of the current animosity of some veterans groups against Kerry has less to do with his service than the exploitation of his service to suggest that there were wide spread atrocities by American soldiers in Vietnam. Indeed, to make his point in 1971, Kerry admitted

“There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages.”

Despite his admissions, Kerry is not a war criminal. At the time of the statement, emotions were high, Kerry was young and he was probably swept up in the excessive Left-wing rhetoric of the era. The statement is more a negative reflection on his tendency to opportunism than it is reason to drag him before a tribunal at the Hague.

Whether out of political wisdom or honest concession to Kerry’s military honors, the Bush Administration has distanced itself from those who question Kerry’s actual war service. Given the fact that Bush was honorably discharged and did serve as a National Guard pilot, the principled action on Kerry’s part would have been to grant the same presumptive concessions on Bush’s record. Instead, he cynically suggested that, “Those of us who were in the military wonder how it is that someone who is supposedly serving on active duty…can miss a whole year of service without even explaining where it went.”

One wonders if Kerry and Bush’s policy positions remained as they are now, but their war records would have been reversed, whether the Left, who now embraces Kerry, would have refrained from accusing Bush of being a war criminal and unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief. One can be certain that Michael Moore would now be calling Bush a war criminal. He likely would have cut-and-pasted out-of-context video clips to produce a “documentary” purporting to depict a vicious Bush as a gun-totting soldier murdering innocent civilians. However, it is not certain whether “mainstream” Democrats would have distanced themselves from such remarks or such a filem or would have had a hardy chuckle and sheltered their embrace of mendacity by saying that Moore only engages in “satire.”

Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind

Sunday, August 8th, 2004

When the forefathers penned the Declaration of Independence, they wanted to set forth to the world the reasons for severing their ties to Britain. Specifically they wrote: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Many have attempted to exploit the deference granted to the wisdom of Founders and the phrase “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” as leverage to criticize President Bush’s supposed indifference to opinions of other countries, particularly with regard to the liberation of Iraq. However, such a claim belies an ignorance of the true circumstances of America’s struggle for independence.

Although there was some sympathy in the world for American independence, particularly among long-time enemies of Great Britain, the goal of the American Revolution to establish a large republic certainly threatened much of the global status quo. After all, the ethos behind the American experiment relied on the bold assertion by Thomas Paine that, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” This is hardly a sentiment likely to endear Americans to the powers of the world, made up of mostly authoritarian regimes of one sort or the other.

A more careful examination of the phraseology of the Declaration shows that the consequence of a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind” was a duty to “declare the causes which impel them” to certain actions. Decent respect only required a thoughtful explanation of American reasons, not slavish obsequiousness to the opinion of others. Whether others agree or not with our conclusions, the American explanations at the United Nations constituted dues paid the opinions of mankind. Respect was indeed shown.

Indeed, is it not true that all countries should do what they reasonably believe is correct and ethical unconstrained by the opinions of others? Let us posit for the moment that the French and the German opposition to the liberation of Iraq, despite a century of those countries making exactly the wrong geopolitical decisions, was motivated out of the purest of motives. This proposition may be belied by a number of subterfuges they employed; including French assurances to the Iraqis they could stop the Americans in the UN Security Council. Nonetheless, let us presume that objections to Iraqi liberation arouse out of a deep and abiding affection for the United States.

Should the French and Germans have fought in international bodies to keep Coalition forces from liberating Iraq or should they have, in the name of international collegiality and in order to maintain good relations with the US, acquiesced to American perceptions of threats? Surely, Bush’s critics would argue the French should have done what is right and not submitted their best judgments to a veto by the United States. France and Germany should not do what they believe is wrong just because it would make the US happy and similarly, the US should act in a way it perceives is correct after a due explanation in deference to the “opinions of mankind.”

The question then reduces to what is the best policy, not what others happen to agree with.

Republican Quest for African-American Votes

Sunday, August 1st, 2004

Two of the most reliable predictors of voting behavior are at war with one another. How can the apparent contradiction be explained?

The National Survey of Religion and Politics by the University of Akron compared church attendance, as a rough proxy for religiosity, with voting patterns. They found that those who attend church or temple more than once a week voted for George Bush in 2000 by a margin of 68% to 32%. Those who never attended church cast their votes for Al Gore 60% to 35%. Now the survey clearly shows that there are people who attend church regularly that voted for Gore and people who refrain from formal religious observances who voted for Bush. However, the trend is unmistakable. The more likely one is to attend religious services and for whom presumably religion provides normative guidance were more comfortable voting for Bush. Perhaps the Democratic Party’s positions in favor of abortion, gay rights, and the party’s close connection with those in Hollywood associated with cultural decadence and decline make many religious people uncomfortable.

On the other hand, African-Americans have significantly higher church attendance rates than white Americans yet vote almost exclusively Democratic. In 2000, Gore received 90% of the votes of African-Americans and that result is unlikely to change in 2004. Democrats have been the party of government, and government programs for the disadvantaged disproportionately aid black Americans. It is, therefore, not surprising that Democrats are able to garner a majority of votes of African-Americans, but the 90% figure seems irrational. It is hard to imagine how similar unanimity on any other issue in any other community could be achieved. It is hard to get 90% of any group to even agree on the time of day.

African-Americans may benefit from government programs, but they also suffer disproportionately from the burdens of terrible public schools in the inner cities. Democrats are so beholden to teachers’ unions that they are unwilling to grant black Americans the freedom to opt out of failing government-run schools. In African-American communities, local churches often provide social services. African-Americans, therefore, would benefit from President Bush’s faith-based initiative where public services delivered at churches could be partially financed by the government. Moreover, socially conservative black Americans who attend church regularly might be uncomfortable with the Democrats’ absolute commitment to even late-term abortions. Reason would suggest that these factors alone should be able to swing more than 10% of African-American voters to Bush.

Ralph Nadler, a Republican consultant, has completed a study which might offer some explanation for this phenomenon. Black Americans are radically ill-informed about Republicans. Amazingly, 69% of black Americans believed that Democrats were more committed to “protecting the rights of the unborn” than Republicans and Republicans were more likely to raise taxes than Democrats. Not even John Kerry would believe those positions.

This problem may be indirectly related to the splintering of Americans’ viewing and listening habits into little niches. There has been an explosion in the number of cable stations and alternative media outlets. Where all Americans used to watch a few broadcast stations so everyone received their news from common sources, different groups have different viewing habits. African-Americans watch Black Entertainment Television and listen to radio stations that cater to black Americans. These media have been largely co-oped by Democrats who can help define the political culture of African-Americans. In no small measure, according to Nadler, Republican neglect is at least as much of responsible for this as Democratic cultural imperialism. If Republicans are ever to claim a reasonable share of African-American voters, they are going to have to find ways bring their message to black media. The advantages of doing so are hard to exaggerate. If Republicans can even expand the number of votes from African-Americans they attract to 15% as opposed to 10%, it can have a dramatic effect on close elections. So long as black Americans are taken for granted by Democrats and have little voice in the Republican Party, the issues of most concern to this community will likely be neglected.