Five Reasons Why 'Civil-rights Republicanism' is a Bust
Here’s the latest effort to get Republicans to reach out to African Americans: Civil-Rights Republicanism by Theodore R. Johnson, published in National Review. Oh dear, where to begin? I know, let’s just rehearse all the arguments about why this just can’t work.
Typical Americans. The Republican Party is the party of voters that think of themselves as typical Americans. Think Trump voters. Who are the Trumpies? The pundits would really like to know. The answer is that they are the people left over after you have subtracted all the hyphenated Americans and hived them off to the Democratic Party. The brutal fact is that African Americans, more than any group, do not think of themselves as typical Americans; they experience themselves as a group apart from mainstream America. That’s why you don’t see African Americans hiking on trails out in the wilderness here in Washington State although you will see plenty of East and South Asians.
Politics is Really Civil War. Johnson writes as though politics is or ought to be a matter of polite upper-middle class appeals on “the issues” rather than civil war by other means. But he is wrong. See Europe’s current migrant crisis. In politics the two sides are more like armies than we like to think. Once you have signed up for the political colors you can’t leave, because if you do you are a deserter. At the very least, it is really hard to change sides, as African Americans have experienced for themselves.After the Civil War the freedmen enthusiastically voted for the Republican Party. It took decades of betrayal before they switched to the Democratic Party. Yet by 1876 the Republican Party had already decided that if they tried to protect blacks in Mississippi from the murdering white militias they were putting Ohio in jeopardy. No way they were going to do that.
Want to know the early warning sign to tell us that blacks don’t belong in the Democratic Party? It will be when the networks decide to run a black version of All in the Family. I predict the show will sneer at some lower-middle class black family for their Christianity and their homophobia.
Politics is About Free Stuff. Johnson sneers at Jeb Bush for insulting blacks with talk about “free stuff.” But the fact is that politics is all about free stuff, always has been and always will: it’s just rude to say so out loud. In the old days, free stuff was handed out in loot and plunder. Today it’s handed out in entitlements and subsidies. So nothing has changed.
What free stuff can Republicans offer to blacks? Education vouchers? Maybe, but a problem is that many blacks see the schools as a jobs program rather than an education program. See Michelle Rhee, immolation of. How about immigration? Now there’s an opportunity, but the bipartisan Beltway elite thinks that immigration is a white trash thing, so Republicans aren’t likely to run border-fence ads on black radio stations.
“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” The Republicans Party didn’t recruit Ronald Reagan with a cunning plan to convert him from New Dealism. He came on his own when he couldn’t take the Democratic Party any more. Ditto the Silent Majority when government slacked off on “law and order” in the Sixties and the Religious Right when the Dems went full metal secular. Now we have the white working class in full migrant mode, Joe Soptic ad be damned. You have to be getting a daily hate-the-bosses email from your union boss to miss the fact that the Democrats don’t care about “working people like me.” Why should things be any different with blacks?
Republicans Cannot Tell a Lie. And when they do lie, the Democratic operatives with bylines go into full search-and-destroy mode with visions of Pulitzer lollipops in their heads. Democratic presidents can lie their heads off and nobody cares. So Democrats can keep on keeping on telling African Americans that the US is one election away from a return to Jim Crow and nobody in the media calls them on it.
It took over 50 years after the betrayal of 1876 before blacks started voting seriously for the Democratic Party. And it took 40 years after liberals started romancing minorities, women, and now gays for the white working stiffs to finally realize that the Democratic Party didn’t love them anymore. People are like that; it takes a while to realize what is staring them right in the face.
So it will be decades before African Americans will start to count the ways that Democrats have betrayed them. But meanwhile how about a bunch of negative ads about Hillary Clinton dissing President Obama right in the White House?