In almost every congressional and presidential election, 90 percent or more of black voters pull the lever for Democrats. The predictability of black voters is good for Democrats, but it is bad for Republicans, bad for blacks, and bad for America. The fact that Democrats can take black voters for granted hurts Republicans in obvious ways, but it also hurts blacks even more. No voting bloc should allow itself to be taken for granted. People who vote should demand accountability from those they vote for. If held accountable the Democrat Party would be forced to admit that it has not just failed to help black Americans, it has actually hurt them.
For 50 years Democrats have been able to count on the blind, unquestioning loyalty of black voters, yet there are still just as many blacks on the welfare rolls, living in poverty, and standing in unemployment lines as there were 50 years ago. Unemployment for black Americans—particularly women and teenagers—is always higher than that of other cohorts. In fact, unemployment among black teenagers now averages more than 20 percent and at times reaches as high as 40 percent. Yet people who purport to be leaders in the black community—Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton come to mind—don’t even raise an eyebrow as Democrats enact job-killing, anti-business legislation and regulations.
Supporting Democrats has done little for black Americans except hold them back. There are simply too many successful black Americans who have pulled themselves up out of poverty without government assistance to any longer believe the fiction that Democrats with their condescending handouts help blacks or even intend to. Worse yet, supporting Democrats has taken many black Americans with enormous potential out of the talent pool; Americans who, if not locked into a life of dependence from birth, might be contributing to the betterment of their communities and our country right now. The question Democrats should be required by blacks to answer is this: How many entrepreneurs, physicians, lawyers, scientists, professors, and even presidents has America been deprived of because pandering liberal politicians insist that black Americans cannot function without the crutch of government assistance?
Republicans know they need to make inroads with black voters, but they appear clueless concerning how to go about it. Some mainstream Republicans think the answer to reaching black Americans can be found in mimicking Democrats by offering up more government assistance programs and handouts. In other words, some mainstream Republicans want to follow the Democrat’s example of buying black votes with funds from the federal treasury. This misguided strategy will never work. Trying to outspend the Democrats would be as futile as trying to outrun Usain Bolt. To break the stranglehold Democrats have on black voters, Republicans will need to get smart and do something different. What follows in the remainder of this column are some things Republicans can do to begin making inroads with black voters who currently vote dependably and overwhelmingly for Democrats.
Republicans need to stop trying to hit homeruns and satisfy themselves with hitting a few singles and doubles. Republicans are not going to suddenly wrest the majority of black voters away from the Democrats. The kind of socio-political change required for major transformations in voting behavior can take generations. Fortunately, Republicans don’t need to achieve major transformations. All they really have to do to make a difference in future elections is peel away 10 percent of the black vote from Democrats. This can be done, but not by trying to imitate big-spending Democrats.
The better game plan for Republicans is to target specific sub-groups within the black community with which they have common ground. Three such groups come immediately to mind: 1) Poor black families who see education as the way out and up for their children and, as a result, support charter schools, 2) Poor black families who want their teenagers gainfully employed rather than hanging out on the corner or joining gangs, and 3) Successful blacks who have built better lives for themselves in the same way that most rags-to-riches Americans have: by working hard, working smart, and working long without government assistance.
It is not difficult to make the case that charter schools offer better educational opportunities for inner-city kids than the burned-out, drugged-out, academically-hopeless public schools that pass for educational institutions in America’s inner-cities, nor is it difficult to show that Democrats oppose charter schools. It is not difficult to make the case that it would be better for black youngsters to be working in minimum-wage jobs than joining gangs, nor is it difficult to show that Democrat-supported legislation kills job. It is not difficult to convince successful black Americans to share their rags-to-riches stories with young blacks who have never known anything but welfare, food stamps, and government dependence.
Just taking better advantage of these simple strategies would help Republicans peel away the 10 percent of black voters they need to win back the Senate and re-claim the White House. Unfortunately, mainstream Republicans who control the GOP seem clueless as to how they should go about it. Barack Obama and the Democrats have set the table for a broad-based Republican victory in the mid-term elections this year. I wonder how the Republicans will manage to blow it this time.