The Monolithic Black Vote -- and My Republican Dad
In 13 wards in Philadelphia, reports the Inquirer, President Barack Obama received 99 percent of the vote! A local Democratic ward leader outlined the strategy: “In this election, you had to point out to people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man.”
Obama appears to have held on to most of his percentage of the black vote from 2008 – even though the black unemployment rate in October reached 14.3 percent. Emmanuel Cleaver, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, admitted: “If (former President) Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House.”
Lower taxes, less government spending on domestic programs and fewer regulations mean a better economy for everybody. These were the policies of the ‘80s under Reagan. The results for minorities? In late 1982, Reagan’s second year in office, the unemployment rate for blacks was 20.4 percent. By 1989, his last year, the black unemployment rate had fallen to 11.4 percent – a 9 percent drop. In late 1982, the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 15.3 percent. By 1989, it had fallen to 8 percent – a drop of over 7 percentage points. White unemployment, by contrast, fell “only” 4 percentage points.
Still, as one prominent black businessman once told me, “Voting Republican would be like voting for the Klan.” When I informed him that Democrats started the Klan, he replied, “That was then.”
In my latest book, “Dear Father, Dear Son”, I write about my Republican father. “No poor person ever gave me a job,” he would tell my Democrat mom in opposing tax hikes “on the rich folks who can afford it.”
John F. Kennedy, an icon of the Democratic Party who pushed for deep tax cuts, argued, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Urging a tax rate cut, Kennedy said: “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low – and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut rates now. The experience of a number of European countries has borne this out. This country’s own experience with tax reductions in 1954 has borne this out, and the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget – and tax reduction can pave the way to full employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budgetary deficit but to achieve the more prosperous expanding economy which will bring a budgetary surplus.”
President Barack Obama calls getting a “world class” education the “civil rights issue” of the 21st century. Yet the Democratic Party – and the teachers’ unions – fight against parental choice that allows one to opt-out of an underperforming government schools. This disproportionately hurts black parents who, according to polls, want the right to reject a bad government school.
And then there is the issue of what the welfare state has done to the family. My Democrat mom and Republican father did agree on one thing: that government welfare made it “too easy” for the able-bodied to “get on the county.” And my Dad always said, “If you try to get something for nothing, you end up with nothing for something.”
In 1965, Daniel P. Moynihan wrote a book called: “The Negro Family Case for National Action.” At the time, 25 percent of black kids were born out of wedlock. Today, that number is 70 percent. Now 26 percent of white kids are born to unwed mothers. This is an indictment of the welfare state and a direct link to crime, drop-out rates and poverty. This is a crisis – but not a death sentence.
As I write in “Dear Father, Dear Son,” my “illegitimate” Republican father never knew his biological father. Raised by an irresponsible mother during the Great Depression in the Jim Crow south, my father was on his own from the age of 13. He worked two jobs as a janitor, and saved enough to open up a small restaurant in his late 40s, which he ran until his 80s.
My dad’s wisdom was simple. Don’t play the victim: “Hard work wins. Nobody owes you a living. You get out of life what you put into it. And no matter how you hard work or how good you are, bad things will happen. How you react will tell if me and your mom raised a man.”
COPYRIGHT 2012 LAURENCE A. ELDER
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