2012 Black Conservative Revolt
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Conservative fortunes in the 2012 election cycle will depend on the GOP and Tea Party’s effectiveness in turning around the economy. The next 18 months will give America, especially Independents, a real contrast between the Left and the Right. Therefore, conservatives must look for some quick victories to initiate. Merely stopping Obamacare or taking other reactive, defensive steps of action will not insure victory. Conservatives need to blow a new trumpet and create their own sense of hope based on a perception that they will bring positive change. Remember, citizens from across the political spectrum are tired of business-as-usual.
So how will voters choose their next president and the 2012 congress and senators? They will want to know that their president and Capitol Hill understand their needs. Therefore, messaging aimed at various subcultures will be critical. The typical liberal approach is to tell every subculture or minority that they must be fearful of narrow-minded, hateful conservatives.
I would like to suggest that conservatives can neutralize the Democratic influence upon both the black and Hispanic communities in 2012. I am not suggesting that the GOP can win the majority of these voters in 2012. Nor am I expecting these communities to disassociate themselves with the sense of hope and pride they have received from seeing a black president with an incredibly diverse administration. Nonetheless, setting national goals to reach 11-15 percent of the black vote and 40 percent of the Hispanic vote may be an effective blocking technique.
In order to reach these groups, which total over 25 percent of the national electorate, the GOP must not jettison the social issues of the protection of marriage and the protection of human life. The strong Hispanic and black faith communities resonate with social conservatism. If this social perspective is trumpeted with sincerity and clarity by fresh conservative voices, inroads are inevitable. From here on, this article will focus upon the black community, saving an analysis of the Hispanic vote for my next discussion.
Since the 2004 election, Republicans have made slow, steady progress into the black community. As a result, a record number of black Republicans (20+) ran in this past election. Not surprisingly, many of them were either ministers or devout Christians. Among them are Tim Scott and Allen West. Scott will be the first black representative from South Carolina since Reconstruction. Colonel West (Florida) broke ground with his bold declarations of conservative principles and his open commitment to faith, quoting scripture in his acceptance speech, and exhorting his audience to follow the words of Christ to be, “... the salt of the earth, (and)... the light of the world.”
The president is among a minority in his party who recognizes, after the shellacking of last month, the precarious hold that Democrats have on the black community. He learned this painful lesson, unlike Nancy Pelosi and many members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who want to pretend there is no national call for more effective, policy driven leadership. The CBC has more of an excuse for their lack of discernment because Charlie Rangle (NY), Maxine Waters (CA), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX) were reelected despite major ethics concerns and/or charges. Their reelection, however, simply reflects the current vibe of offended competitors in their districts. To prove that the CBC has lost its “groove,” one only needs to remember that Mr. Obama went to the Congressional Black Caucus in September to enlist their help to bring out the grassroots black vote. He was asking for the same kind of “ground game” that put him over the top in 2008 when an amazing group of black clergy registered record numbers of new voters, some providing buses and car caravans to take members to the polls.
Unfortunately for the administration, the CBC appealed only to the elected officials of Washington and the black media. Essence, Ebony and Black Enterprise magazines ran puff pieces attempting to generate support and continued enthusiasm this November. These measures did not work. Exit polling from CBS and other sources showed the black turnout was lower than it was in 1994. What happened?
The answer is simple - the president has not engaged the black clergy in any meaningful way since attaining office. In fact, he has virtually avoided direct contact with the pivotal, influential leaders in our major black denominations. Instead he has curried the favor of people like Rev. Al Sharpton and other old school, black political leaders.
The president and his Director of the White House Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (the Rev. Joshua Dubois) are currently developing a new plan to reach black clergy through liberal grassroots organizations like Faithful America, Sojourners, and the newly formed Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC). The CNBC met for the first time just last week in DC, bringing together the leadership of the nine largest, historically black denominations, representing nearly 30 million churchgoers and 50,000 congregations. They represent the political “old guard” in the black church.
The organizations here are the grass-tops instead of the grassroots. The DNC will endeavor to sell them on their social agenda, attempting to create a moral compromise between the rights of gays and lesbians, and the call of these churches to protect marriage and family. They will attempt to seduce these grasstop leaders into putting pressure on their grassroots memberships to give up their heartfelt, conservative Biblical points of view. The CBC has already begun to move in this direction, as anyone can observe by viewing their website. Remember that 70 percent of black Californians and Floridians voted to uphold the definition of marriage and there is a growing concern among blacks in many regions about abortion and the crisis of high school dropouts.
For those close to the black community, it is obvious that a moral and political showdown is coming to the church. The “new black church” consisting of many black mega-church leaders of all denominations, independent black churches led by men and women under 45, and the growing number of upwardly mobile blacks that attend white-led churches are clamoring for major changes - not stilted black rhetoric. Further, many in the black community will demand results in lowering black unemployment levels, improving urban education, combating pandemic HIV/AIDS death statistics, alleviating the high black incarceration levels, and solid financial reform. As a result of democratic “rhetoric" without practical steps of action, I predict the number of black conservative congressmen will at least double after 2012.
In order to realize my prediction, the GOP must continue to follow a time-tested, social conservative agenda, offering practical steps on the “new black church” issues above. This approach will create a moral fault line between the two major parties. To my conservative friends I say, “Semper Fi!” and “Stay engaged!”