President Bush’s recent address to the NAACP national convention has the potential to be a very positive turning point for the Republicans, but not for the reasons cited by the conventional wisdom — which usually means the conventional misconception.
Of course, the alleged "civil rights advocates" on the left insist that Bush’s visit is — to use their painfully cliched refrain — “playing politics” with an election upcoming.
This, as usual, is nonsense. At least, it should be.
However, there are indeed some on the so-called "moderate" wing of the GOP that have always believed that the best way to expand the Republican power base is to renounce traditional conservative values in a transparent attempt to appease minorities into voting for them.
This, of course, is the very definition of “playing politics” — not to mention foolhardiness, because the Republicans will never be able to out-pander the Democrats when it comes to minorities — nor should they ever aspire to.
Nevertheless, examples of this ill-advised tactic abound.
The most glaring present example is the dubious attempt to grant de facto amnesty to illegal immigrants in the hope that it will somehow curry Republican favor with Hispanics.
For one thing, it’s purely counter-intuitive to believe that Hispanics who have already endured the time-consuming and exhausting process of acquiring citizenship or legal residence suddenly will cheer the notion that others should be allowed to circumvent that whole process by sneaking in just because they happen to be fellow Hispanics.
(It’s more likely that legal immigrants would retroactively demand the same benefits conferred on the hitherto illegals — such as two years of tax-free residence, as had been proposed).
Such thinking also ignores the fact that poor immigrants without marketable job skills will be far more likely to support whichever party promises to subsidize them more lavishly — and we know which party that will be.
Again, the Republicans — even today’s free-spending version — can hardly match the Democrats at pandering, so any such attempt to appropriate traditional Democratic constituencies is inevitably doomed to failure.
Another example of this self-defeating approach — this time trying to court the black vote — occurred when many Republicans became enamored with the idea of nominating Colin Powell for President in 1996.
One can readily recall the euphoria among establishment Republicans at the prospect of General Powell being their standard-bearer. This despite the fact that — though he is to be highly commended for his considerable contributions to the U.S. military and his service as Secretary of State — he was an unabashedly wholehearted supporter of racial preferences and the illusionary "Constitutional right" to abortion.
Though the Rockefeller Republican crowd believed this was the way to "defeat" the Democrats once and for all (just as they’re doing now in promoting John McCain or Rudy Giuliani), the obvious problem is that this mentality rendered the Democrats oddly superfluous by perpetuating much of their agenda.
Perhaps even worse, it would have effectively left the GOP’s conservative majority without a voice.
The moral is that the GOP must somehow learn that the way to wean minority votes from their reflexive support for the Democrats is not to come up with appeasement candidates, but to find ones — such as black Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell — who will boldly assert that minorities should support Republicans not because they’re an improved-version of the Democrats, but because conservative values are most in accord with their best interests.
This is the essence of the matter, and when Republicans finally figure that out, they’ll begin to make serious inroads with minorities.
Enumerating the ways in which this is true constitutes one of the easiest tasks GOP strategists will ever encounter.
They can start with the most urgent problem facing minorities today — fatherlessness.
Decades of misguided social policy dating from the egregiously failed "War on Poverty" (where family breakdown was encouraged by increasing government support for each successive out-of-wedlock birth) have led to the present tragedy where a staggering number of minority families — especially among blacks — are headed by single mothers.
This is modern liberalism’s disastrous legacy to the minorities for whom they profess to have so much empathy.
By contrast, the conservative tough-love prescription was the 1996 Welfare Reform — for which the liberal media’s laughable historical revisionism preposterously credits Bill Clinton. In reality, Clinton only grudgingly signed the measure into law — after two vetoes and determined resistance that abated only when the prospect arose of the Republicans getting an election issue.
In addition, after campaigning in 1992 to “end welfare as we know it,” Clinton conveniently relegated the issue to oblivion while trying to stuff nationalized HillaryHealth down the nation’s unwilling throat. That changed only when Republicans finally took over Congress in 1994.
But conservatives know that ceasing to reward destructive behavior and encouraging responsibility is only the beginning — though this approach is absolutely essential, and has been a rousing success, with welfare caseloads having precipitately dropped.
They know that the next step is to work toward minority families developing the wherewithal to acquire real assets such as a home and retirement savings, as well as a good education that will allow future generations of minorities to realize gainful and fulfilling careers.
(This is precisely what Jesse Jackson and company have often talked about, but not taken real steps toward delivering.)
This in turn will maximize their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty and crime that has long been the bitter fruit of the liberal conception of "civil rights."
Unfortunately, however, to this point the Democrats have refused to acknowledge this — and not enough Republicans have shown the fortitude to energetically do battle with them. The sad result is that the initiatives with the most promise to greatly help minorities are either languishing or not working to full potential.
Two classic examples of this are the President’s proposed Social Security reform, and the much-maligned No Child Left Behind education law.
Even minimal privatization of Social Security is now widely deemed dead, even though it promotes just the potential for asset accumulation minorities need — and even though the present anemic (and mortally endangered) Social Security system not only abysmally fails to provide substantial retirement income, but terminates the resources it does provide upon the death of the beneficiary — with nothing passed on to heirs.
(This is particularly detrimental for blacks, who statistically have shorter life-spans, and hence fewer years to receive benefits).
Similarly, while the testing standards of No Child Left Behind are sorely needed, the failure to expand voucher programs allowing minorities (and others) to escape chronically failing schools strips the measure of the accountability that would most ensure a return to the effective teaching of basic academic skills so painfully lacking among poor minority children — a generation of whom have already been sacrificed by liberals in pursuit of their perversely-flawed agenda.
The simple truth is that liberalism has terribly victimized minorities for 40 years in the name of helping them, and that conservatism represents their best hope for a better future.
They — and their self-appointed guardians in groups like the NAACP — should be unequivocally reminded of this again and again.
As Hillary says, it is indeed about “the American Dream, stupid.” And it’s high time she and he cronies stopped standing in the way.