LOS ANGELES, April 4, 2013 ― There are many individual black Republicans, Libertarians and conservatives who are noteworthy and influential in American politics. Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice, Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Clarence Thomas, Alveda King, Benjamin Carson … some of the most gifted political thinkers and office holders to come along have been black Republicans or conservatives.
But as a group, it is hard to call black Republicans significant. We were 7 percent of the black registered voter population, according to a 2004 Pew Research poll. That percentage may have fallen because of President Obama. We have been too small a percentage of both blacks and Republicans to drive the agenda on either side. And yet, the black right may be the linchpin of this nation’s political progress in the 21st century.
Black Republicans are small in number, but we occupy a premium place on the political spectrum, should we use it. The Democratic Party owns the language of diversity, of tolerance and acceptance, in part because they have inherited the legacy of John Kennedy and the Civil Rights Movement in the eyes of the media and most Americans. They are therefore able to wed government-heavy, economically counter-productive policies with the historic plight of minorities to achieve equal opportunity in America.
Because minorities in general, and blacks in particular, are overwhelmingly Democratic, this assumption goes generally unchallenged. But black Republicans have every bit as much inheritance in the legacy of the Civil Rights movement as do black Democrats, and are as invested in the cause of achieving a diverse and tolerant America as are any Democrats, black or white. The Republican Party owns the language of economic empowerment, of personal liberation through hard work, and the original American ideals of liberty and self-determination. This is the legacy of Ronald Reagan, but it is also the legacy of Frederick Douglass, of Booker T. Washington, of Martin Luther King, Jr., and a long line of black Republicans who believed in the importance liberty, as only the children of slaves can believe in the importance of liberty. The believed also in the importance of individual initiative, financial and professional discipline as a means to increased political influence and a solidified position in society.
To the liberal left, the aims of diversity and socialistic politics are synonymous; to the conservative right, economic liberty is paramount, whilst the interests of diversity stand as an afterthought. But for the black right, especially amongst those of this burgeoning new generation who have born witness to the entrepreneurial strides of business savvy athletes like Magic Johnson and Hip-Hop icons like Sean Combs and Shawn Carter (P-Diddy and Jay-Z respectively), the interests of diversity (and in that, the interest of the black community) are not stymied by capitalism; they are served by it.
Yes, of course if we are not granted equality before the law so as to be able to take the reins of our financial destinies, we can hardly expect to benefit from capitalism. But enough of us have achieved this to show that in America today, the fight to empower black and brown must begin with an aim to open our doors to the worlds of business and professional excellence, rather than shutting these doors via the government-heavy policies of those on the left, who in seeking to create equal opportunities for minorities in this country in fact close them to everyone.
Raising taxes indefinitely and continuously increasing the cost of doing business does not make it more likely that we will have more Magic Johnson’s and Russel Simmons (in spite of their own personal politics). It makes it less likely. The American dream is not for everyone to be made equal; the dream is now to recognize that we already are equal and just need an equal chance to succeed to prove it. Liberals are right that government should make sure we have that equal chance, regardless of what color we are. Republicans are right that, after that, it needs to get out the way.
Black Republicans can bridge the gap; especially young black Republicans. Liberals can call white conservatives racist all day long for promoting policies of economic freedom, but they can’t call us that. Black Dems can try to call us Uncle Tom’s, but for the younger generation of black Republicans, those arrows don’t sting. Our blackness is wrapped up in our fiscal conservatism. The hustlers of our generation are the entrepreneurs of a new America, the engine of the economic power of the United States. We can bring this message to young people, to black and brown people in a way that the Republican Party establishment cannot, but that after its loss in 2012 it now knows it must. This is our time to take back the Republican Party … and America, along with it.
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