The Black Vote in 2012
By Bruce Walker
September 10, 2012
Republicans are making another pitch to win black votes in 2012. Are we going down the same fruitless path for black voters who may be utterly locked into voting Democrat, especially when the Democrat is black?
Political pundits love to put people into convenient classes, but much like the "Hispanic vote" or the "women's vote," the characterizations are far too broad. Within the Hispanic vote, for example, are people whose ethnic connections are from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and a number of other nations. Lumping these together as the "Hispanic vote" makes about as much sense as speaking of the "European vote."
Women are just like men: they do not vote as part of some tightly knit group, but as Americans who work or stay at home raising kids or live on Social Security or are on welfare. They are the most passionate opponents of abortion and its most passionate advocates. Feminists once tried to lump all women into their collective, but that failed wildly.
Although there is a "gender gap" -- which breaks down on closer examination as a gap between married women and single women, women who work and women on welfare -- it is hard to imagine anything sillier than lumping "women" in America into a group. But that is what has happened in political punditry. There is a group of women who, often because they are unwed mothers (and for other reasons, like affirmative action), perceive their interests to be with Democrats, but that is about it.
The black vote, likewise, has been irrationally thrown together as if it were a single mind, a single soul, a single voter. In fact, black Americans are disproportionately religious; they sign up for the military in greater percentages than white Americans, and many, like Star Parker, are more utterly opposed to morally destructive welfare programs than are white Americans.
What is also obvious is that black Americans who are most inclined to hear the message of Republican conservatism live in the South. In 2010, 35 black Republicans ran for House seats, and 20 of those 33 came from the 11 states of the Old Confederacy. Two of those 20 won -- Alan West of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republicans in the House. All three black Republicans running for the Senate were from the South. The highest-ranking black Republican in Congress -- indeed, the highest-ranking black in Congress -- has been J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, which is a conservative border state.
Those black Republicans -- more than that, black conservatives -- like Congressmen Scott and Alan, or Artur Davis, Condi Rice, and Herman Cain -- all came out of the South. For almost a century, the Republican Party was the only political party in the South which accepted blacks. Perhaps just as importantly, deep Christian faith is sincere and serious among blacks in the South. Indeed, that demographic group may be the most religious in America.
The relative conservatism of blacks in the South may be a key to the 2012 election. Republicans like Cain, Davis, Scott, West, and Rice can speak to blacks in the South in a language very different from the atheistic Marxism which infests not only Obama, but nearly all the Chicago mafia around him. This emphatically includes those black Americans who advise Obama. Valerie Jarrett grew up in Chicago, just like Michelle Obama. Jeremiah Wright grew up in Philadelphia, another big northern city, and his church is in Chicago.
Black Republicans like Davis, Scott, West, Cain, and Rice have shown that their acquiescence in 2008, while history was being made, will not be their attitude today. In this election, for the first time in a long time, the black vote in the South really counts. Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina, the swing states today, gave a higher percentage of their vote to McCain than he got nationally. Every Republican presidential candidate since 1976 has done better in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina than he did nationally.
Obama must persuade these religiously serious and patriotic blacks in the South not only to support him, but also to be enthused enough to show up at the polls and vote for him. Yet in reality, this Chicago child, who grew up in Hawaii and went to Ivy League schools, has almost nothing in common with Southern blacks, except for race. When Obama spoke condescendingly about bitter people clinging to their guns and religion, he could just as easily have been referring to millions of black families in the South.
What, exactly, do these Americans have in common with a president who conspicuously ignores God in his public pronouncements, who wants long power in Washington (which means far away from them), and who has done nothing to help these black voters -- often the first to feel the full lash of unemployment -- out of their troubles? Obama, to these good Americans, might as well be from Mars. If Republicans can persuade Southern blacks of that, then Republicans will win the election.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.