By Joseph C. Phillips
My response to those concerned about the number of Blacks voting for Republicans has tended along the lines of, “Eeh!” Frankly, I haven’t cared. Long ago, I decided that the GOP in general and Conservatives specifically, should simply preach our message to anyone who is interested, preach it passionately, and then let the chips fall where they may. If 90% of one group of people wants to vote for one party exclusively, so be it. That is, as they say, life in the big city.
As the 2016 presidential race gets off to a start, I have had a change of heart. I no longer think it is enough to simply preach our ideas. It is not enough to simply pontificate about the Constitution, limited Government, and Free market principles, we must see those principles put into practice in our public policy. In order for that to happen, Conservatives must hold office. In order for Conservatives to hold office, Conservatives must win elections. In order to win elections, Conservatives must get votes and the only way to get votes is to engage with the voters, to meet them where they live.
Why do I suddenly care about the Black vote?
In 2004, George W. Bush won re-election, in part, because he was able to increase his percentage of the black vote in the key states of Ohio and Florida. In Ohio, Bush increased his percentage to 16% from 9% in 2000. Similarly, in Florida, the Black vote for Bush rose to 13%. Additionally, Bush won 16% of the black vote in Pennsylvania. Nationally, Bush was able to win about 12% of the black vote, again an increase from the 2000 election. In a very real way, Black voters re-elected George W. Bush.
The statistics are important because since the Nixon landslide of 1972, no Republican presidential candidate has managed to win more than 12 percent of the Black vote. John McCain managed a paltry three percent of the Black vote. (In fairness to McCain, he was running against a god.) Mitt Romney did slightly better against god with six percent. Perhaps the most important statistic of all is that in the 2012 election, Black voters outnumbered white voters for the first time in history. How important is the Black vote?
I’m no statistician, but it seems clear to me that the Republican Party doesn’t need 90% of the black vote to win elections, the Democrats do. If Republicans can capture 16% of the Black vote, Democrats begin to get nervous, 20% and Democrats are in a panic. If Republicans can capture 25% of the Black vote, Democrats will not win the White House or the Senate for a generation! THAT is how important the Black vote is!
Unfortunately, following the re-election of George Bush, Republicans decided that the road leading to the Black vote was paved with social issues: abortion, homosexual marriage, school choice, etc. Conventional wisdom holds that Black people are naturally conservative and so an appeal to these issues will naturally bear electoral fruit. Strange then, that in 2008, Black people lined up around the block to vote for a man, who upon election, immediately released more funding for abortions of brown babies, dismantled a voucher program in D.C. that benefited Black children, and made homosexual marriage the law of the land.
The truth is that while Blacks may have conservative opinions on these issues, they do not vote on these issues. By and large, Black voters cast their ballots on one issue: race.
Shocking, until one begins to ask: “Why does the Left spend so much time talking about race to Black audiences? Why do they frequently warn of a return to the days of Jim Crow and Slavery? Why are they so invested in painting the Right as racist?” The answer is that the Left has learned what moves Black voters to the polls.
In terms of public relations, the message from the Left is, “We are invested in your survival!” It is not that Black voters are unconcerned about economic issues and the like, it is that Black voters are more concerned with Black survival; All else is negotiable. Race matters! And the more the Right turns its nose up at the idea, the more they cede the issue to the Left, who is more than happy to define the issue and set the parameters. The Left will proceed unimpeded to present this study or that poll, proving that America is a hot bed of racism and that the ONLY protection Black voters have against the evils of the Right is to elect Leftists.
The right must respond by learning to speak the language of race. The language of race is not racism, but is a language that recognizes that race exists, is sensitive to the impact race may have on public policy, and respects that the concerns certain groups of people have in regards to issues of race are not irrational. The language of race is essentially the recognition that race matters.
Of course, all this is much easier said than done. The issue of race being what it is, how do Conservatives navigate the mine-field of race? I don’t have the answers, but I do have a few suggestions: Show up, change the tone, and institute a zero tolerance for nonsense.
Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1963), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.