The GOP's Uphill Battle For the Black Vote

Does Bill O’Reilly live in a fantasy world?

Last Wednesday, during a Radio Factor broadcast, O’Reilly was criticized by a black caller who objected to his characterization of the culture war as a battle between "traditionalists" (i.e. those who support references to God in the public square and oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and other aspects of the overall liberal social agenda) and "secular progressives" (those who are against any mention of God in the public square and champion abortion on demand, gay marriage, etc.) The black caller insisted that O’Reilly used the term "traditionalist" as a code word for those who wish to return to the days when almost all political and social power was concentrated in the hands of wealthy white men.

O’Reilly denied that he used the term "traditionalist" as a code word, and pointed out that African-Americans are overwhelmingly in the "traditionalist" camp, as they tend to be devout churchgoers who oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and the general culture of secular progressivism: "You don’t see many African-Americans hanging around with Jane Fonda, OK?"

O’Reilly’s point was true–but irrelevant. While African-Americans tend not to support secular progressive philosophy, it is a sad fact that since the 1960s African-Americans have overwhelmingly supported secular progressive (i.e., Democratic) politicians.

While blacks do tend to reject the hard-left social agenda, it’s been tremendously difficult to encourage blacks to vote for politicians (i.e. Republicans) who oppose the hard-left social agenda, largely because the hard-left has had so much success convincing large numbers of blacks that Republicans stand for "police brutality," "economic inequality," and "institutionalized racism." Barry Goldwater’s decision to oppose the 1964 Civil Rights Act (on libertarian, not racial grounds, it must be recalled) was the jumping-off point for progressive propaganda when it comes to race. Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, and Newt Gingrich were all charged with bigotry by the left’s political and press prosecutors, and though they were all innocent, liberals successfully persuaded black voters that they were in fact guilty.

Any realistic assessment of the GOP’s chances to increase its share of the black vote has to take into account the effect of four decades of relentless left-wing propaganda concerning Republicans and race. For over a generation, black voters have been told repeatedly that Republicans wish to resurrect Jim Crow, impose "glass ceilings" over black achievement, allow cops to beat inner-city blacks at will, and generally consign blacks to third-class status in America. Thus, even when black voters find themselves disgusted by the Democratic Party’s embrace of issues that they find morally (abortion on demand) or economically (illegal immigration) objectionable, they are still compelled to cast their lot with the Democratic Presidential candidate every four years.

O’Reilly is right to note that many blacks find left-wing social causes like gay marriage appalling. However, a "traditionalist" victory in the culture war will not truly occur until the African-American rejection of secular-progressive policy is matched by the African-American rejection of secular-progressive politicians–and that day seems to be a long way off.

UPDATE: While obviously slanted, this morning’s Boston Globe story on the GOP’s efforts to increase its share of the black vote shows how substantial the challenge is.