The Myth Of Minority “Natural Republicans”

[Also
by W. James Antle III

Iraq Newsflash–The Nation-State Lives!
]

When Arnold Schwarzenegger won the California recall
election with some 30 percent of the Hispanic vote,
there was the usual commentary predicting that we are
just one amnesty away from an emerging Hispanic
Republican majority…even though Schwarzenegger`s

positions
on immigration-related issues, as far as
they could be determined, were the sort that are
supposed to repel Hispanics—and even though the exit
polls

showed
his victory to be more of a validation of the

Sailer Strategy
than Karl Rove`s fantasies.

 After all, the

usual commentators say
, don`t Hispanics` family
values,

Roman Catholic faith,


pro-life
views and general social conservatism make
them natural
Republicans
?”

In fact, of course, there are

reasons to doubt
Hispanic social conservatism. But,
beyond that, the assumption that minorities who prefer
traditional morality will necessarily

vote Republican
is itself

erroneous
.

Just look at American blacks and gay marriage—most the
controversial social issue being debated in America
right now (with the possible exception of

immigration
). The U.S. Supreme Court`s

Lawrence v. Texas
decision and the recent
Goodridge


ruling
by the

Massachusetts State Supreme Court
increase the
likelihood that existing legal barriers to gay marriage
will prove inadequate. This will force a pitched
political battle, quite possibly in time for the 2004
presidential election.

But it isn`t just the courts that are driving gay
marriage. So too is public opinion, which is far more
divided on the subject than it was when the debate first
hit the national scene

back in 1996
. Polls show that

support for gay marriage
is rising among key
demographic groups (although there are some signs that a
backlash against judicial activism could change that).

There are, however, two notable exceptions to this
trend. According to a

survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
,
the two groups that remain the most strongly opposed to
gay marriage are: white evangelical Protestants—and
blacks.

In fact, opposition among both groups has hardly budged
at all from 1996 levels. In 1996, 84 percent of white
evangelicals opposed gay marriage; 83 percent do today.
Similarly, 65 percent of African-Americans opposed gay
marriage in 1996 compared to 64 percent today. A Gallup
poll also found blacks opposed to gay marriage by 65
percent to 28 percent.

Civil rights leader Walter Fauntroy, a former aide to
Martin Luther King, Jr. and cofounder of the

Congressional Black Caucus
, has

endorsed the federal marriage amendment
, which is
intended to

prevent judge-imposed legalization
of same-sex
marriage. Sitting with him on the

board of advisors
of the Alliance for Marriage are
several leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal
Church and a bishop of the Church of God in Christ, two
of the largest predominantly black denominations in the
United States. Ray Hammond, president of the Ten Point
coalition, an ecumenical group focused on issues
pertaining to black and Hispanic youths in the Boston
area,

testified
in favor of a constitutional amendment
banning gay marriage before the Massachusetts state
senate subcommittee on the Constitution.

And gay marriage is not the only social issue where
blacks side with conservatives. According to an ABC
News/Beliefnet poll that found overall public support
for legal abortion at its

lowest level
since 1995, blacks are more likely than
whites to be opposed. Blacks were also more likely to
oppose embryonic stem-cell research. A bare 48 percent
plurality of blacks favored such research while 44
percent were opposed; among whites, the margin was 60
percent in favor and only 29 percent opposed. Polls have
consistently found between 70 and 80 percent of blacks
in favor of school prayer. Blacks are also more likely
than whites to support the various permutations of
school choice, including vouchers.

And on the National Question, 56 percent of California`s
blacks voted for Proposition 187, the attempt to deny
illegal immigrants tax monies, in 1994. Nationally,
blacks are among the strongest supporters of immigration
reduction and making English the official language of
the United States. On immigration, one can argue that
blacks are more socially conservative than many Beltway

social conservative mouthpieces.

 (For that matter, it is also fair to note that
Hispanics and other minority groups hold more sensible
positions on these issues than immigration enthusiasts
generally give them credit for.)

Economist and nationally syndicated columnist Walter
Williams, in his guest appearances on Rush Limbaugh`s
radio talk show, has been

known to argue
that blacks have more in common with
and Jerry Falwell than white liberals, while Jesse
Jackson and Maxine Waters have more in common with
“white hippies.”
This should not be surprising. A
majority of

blacks are evangelical Protestants.
Their churches
are theologically similar to those that form the

base
of the Christian right.

But blacks nevertheless

vote differently
. In the 2000 presidential election,
blacks voted 90 percent for

Democrat Al Gore
. Only 9 percent chose George W.
Bush.

In 1996, the Republicans nominated Bob Dole, who during
his long congressional career had voted in favor of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of
1965, and Jack Kemp, one of the GOP`s leading proponents
of minority outreach. But they won only 12 percent of
the black vote.

Moral: Blacks can watch the “700 Club” without voting
with the Christian Coalition.

Instead, blacks have consistently voted for the most
liberal Democrats, including

Charles Rangel
,

Maxine Waters
and

John Conyers.

Even some blacks who espouse conservative social causes
haven`t exactly assumed the political profile of Alan
Keyes. Fauntroy marched alongside Al Sharpton—who, by
the way, is one of the few Democratic presidential
candidates willing to endorse full gay marriage—in
protest against President Bush`s inauguration and
denounced him as an illegitimate president. Similarly,
Hammond`s public opposition to gay marriage was so
widely reported in the Boston press precisely because he
had been so reliably liberal on most other issues
throughout his career.

There`s hardly a social conservative in the
Congressional Black Caucus—Reps. Sanford Bishop of
Georgia and Harold Ford of Tennessee will occasionally
vote for late-term abortion bans—and not a single
Republican. The last black Republican in Congress, J.C.
Watts, did not join while Gary Franks is not likely to
recall his membership as the most pleasant experience of
his congressional service. Both Franks and Watts
represented substantially white electorates. Although
there may be a disconnect between the black political
elite and most black voters on some issues, there isn`t
on party identification—blacks overwhelmingly identify
as Democrats, while those identifying as Republicans
range from 5 to 10 percent.

So why aren`t blacks “natural Republicans”? Of course,
there are complicated historical reasons for the
dramatic shift of African-American voters from the

party of Lincoln
to the party of

Franklin D. Roosevelt.
But there are also a few
simple reasons:


  • Bread-and-butter
    economics issues trump social issues.

    Democrats are the party most interested in protecting
    means-tested

    government income assistance
    programs,

    racial preferences
    and

    income redistribution
    . You can argue that blacks
    would be better off in the long run without
    preferential policies and

    welfare dependency
    . You would probably be right.
    But the simple fact is that many blacks benefit from
    such programs

    now
    . Asking them to vote against them is asking
    them to vote against their own perceived
    self-interest.


  • Identity politics.

    As the existence of the Congressional Black Caucus,
    NAACP and the Rainbow Coalition/Operation PUSH
    demonstrate, blacks have

    organized politically
    along

    racial lines
    . They tend to identify themselves as
    a distinct minority community. The multicultural
    Democrats are substantially better at cultivating
    black identity politics. Whatever its merits,
    conservative color-blind rhetoric doesn`t seem to
    help. Many black voters perceive it as at best
    insincere, and at worst an attack on black cultural
    identity. Conservatives need to come up with a better
    response to identity politics than “cut it out.”


  • Aspiration vs.
    reality.

    Black social conservatism hasn`t ameliorated

    black social problems.
    For example, pro-life
    sentiments must be contrasted with the black abortion
    rate. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute,
    black women are nearly three times as likely to
    undergo abortions as white women.
    [See
    Peter Brimelow`s Charticle—
    PDF
    ].
    While 12 percent of the population, blacks account for
    more than 30 percent of abortions. Blacks also have
    lower marriage rates and, at 69 percent, the highest
    out-of-wedlock birth rate. The impact of this
    disconnect on black voting patterns is unclear.

I
may be a more enthusiastic

advocate
of GOP minority outreach than some other
VDARE.COM contributors. But I recognize that facts are
facts. The example of black voters proves that it takes
more than moral traditionalism to insure support for the

Republican Party
. To bring more Hispanics into the
GOP, what is called for is a repeat of the policy that
assimilated America`s last Great Wave of immigrants and
made Reagan Democrats, and eventually Bush Republicans,
out of them: an immigration pause.

The very thing that we

always hear
will doom the Republican Party may be
the one thing that can save it.

Or Republicans can simply

wait patiently
and hope that everyone who is more
morally conservative than secular white social liberals
will eventually pull the lever for them.

But the recent history of black voters suggests that
they will be waiting a long time.

W. James Antle III (email
him
) is a senior editor
for


Enter Stage Right
and a
contributor to a number of


other webzines.