The Right Opinion

The Monolithic Black Vote -- and My Republican Dad

By Larry Elder · Nov. 15, 2012

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.”



Alex in NJ said:

That's awesome.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM

Dennis in Farmington, NM said:

20.4 to 11.4 is a 44% drop.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 2:57 PM

David Thompson in Bellville, TX said:

Mr. Elder, you mention, tangentially, that the welfare state has done great harm to "the family." But what has it done to young black people, both male and female? As a former high school teacher, I was aghast at how many (a majority?) of the former planned a career of crime and "pimpin' " (siring multiple children and abandoning them, starting in their early teens), and the latter made no plans at all, other than to have lots of babies (starting in their early teens) and get lots of benefits (ditto - gets them out from under adult supervision). By graduation age, few had graduated, but the males had extensive criminal records that went back to their early teens - no worry; juvenile records are erased. The females had multiple children less than fifteen years younger than themselves with absent and often unidentified fathers.
None of this would have been possible for them without the welfare state.
Don't get me wrong. I know that at least a large minority of black teenagers did NOT follow this life.
I know I'm being critical. I've intended to be accurate. Do you think I'm being unfair?

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Abu Nudnik in Toronto said:

You are one lucky man to have had a dad like that. This story moved me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

Mr. Elder, your father is an inspiration to me, a 64 year old white man. I wish that young black men and women could be so inspired instead of following Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and their race baiting. I'm sure there were many hard working black family men over the last fifty or so years - I know I've worked with quite a few in the last 45. If white people think the disaster that has befallen the black family can't happen to them, that 26 percent of white kids born to unwed mothers should shock them. It did shock me. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to Barnes & Noble to look for your book Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Wow, a breath of fresh air, Larry. Your Dad sounds like my Dad, but I never knew him, really. Hard work wins the prize. I too, will get your book in left-wing Park Slope Barnes & Noble. Len Reggio owns B & N, and he also graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, like me. "I are an Engineer-class of 1979."

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 6:32 AM

Rod in USA said:

An idle thought about your father, Mr. Elder: He was out on his own from age 13. I think having to make your own way from such a young age taught him more than any non-sensical government education. I admire your father.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 7:03 AM

Jim G in Oklahoma said:

Mr. Elder, We need you, as well as men and women such as you - Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Mia Love, Ken Blackwell, Herman Cain, Star Parker, Angela McGlowan, et al - to take these compelling messages to the schools, the black churches, to the inner cities. It's an unforturnate truth, but the words and advice of those of us with white skin fall on deaf ears when we reach out and try to speak to the young black man or black woman of the real pathway out of poverty. I know... I have tried and at best was ignored. At worst I received contempt and hostility in return for my efforts.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:44 AM

pete in CA said:

Mr. Elder, your story reminds me of my own. My dad worked hard, and pulled no punches in raising me. When I needed knocking down I was KOd. My siblings have accused him of been too rough and even abusive, and by today's standards we would have all ended up in foster homes far removed from each other by the time I was 10.

I thank God I was born before that and had the chance to learn from dad. What I learned saw me in good stead through many a difficult time in my own life. I'll be hitting up Amazon for your book today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Don Carlson in new jersey said:

Thank you for your perspective on American society. For some of us the story is of heroic parents; for others it is of heroic peers. Each seems to tell a similar story in a different way. But I spent my youth (in the 60s and 70s) among privileged young Euro-Americans and Europeans, all of whom strongly believed that America was the main source of evil in the world, that some form of socialism was required to achieve justice for all, and that physical cowardice was the mark of civilized persons. Later, I discovered that their physical cowardice translated pretty quickly into moral cowardice. This prevailing cowardice was accompanied by an urge in them to abuse verbally those they thought inferior intellectually or socially--and anyone else who was at an educational or attitudinal disadvantage. Once in a great while this practice got an Ivy Leaguer beat half to death or shot, but not often enough to be informative or corrective. In fact brutal responses to presumptuous behavior may have led to our present desperate situation.

It is the world's fairly well-off cowards to whom the promises of the left most appeal, relieving them of responsibility and giving them license to whine and shriek rather than act and build. There are born in the leftist or progressive religion, all sorts of excuses for those whose social position or economic advantage has placed them beyond their abilities to perform. Now these closeted failures (like the present president) strut and posture and work out among themselves laws, regulations, and bureaucratic mazes guaranteed to keep them employed, in spite of cultural and economic collapse.

I think we will have to learn to live in their despite because they have gathered to themselves all the resentful poor and poorly cultured people who are making America their home without having any respect for its traditions or accepting its original ethic--an ethic and tradition now melting away, destined to disappear. If we survive, our progeny may carry the seeds of an American rebirth, but it will be a long time coming.

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 12:32 PM