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Lewis Morris / Jul. 7, 2015

Perry Goes for the Black Vote

The former Texas governor is saying some things more Republicans should heed.

Rick Perry’s speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, may have done more to lay the groundwork for a respectable presidential campaign than any other Republican candidate who has so far joined the rugby scrum of 2016 contenders.

The former Texas governor dove directly into the topic of race, an area in which so many of his fellow GOP candidates have feared to tread until the false debate over the Confederate flag gave them an out. Perry made a bold move that not only demonstrated his viability in 2016, but also laid bare what may be the GOP’s biggest weakness heading into the presidential election.

In his remarks, Perry took time to recognize the gross injustices that blacks have suffered not only in his home state but across the nation. More important, he lamented how the GOP has basically given up on the black vote and ceded it to Democrats, who have done nothing to improve the lives of blacks.

Quite the contrary, in fact. During Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House, blacks have slid further down the economic ladder, facing higher unemployment and lower economic viability.

Perry looked at this phenomenon in a practical way. “There is a lot of talk in Washington about inequality,” he said. “But there is a lot less talk about the inequality that rises from the high cost of everyday life.” He pointed out the impact creeping regulations and taxes have had on the livelihood of families everywhere, white and black. He also spoke of the impact failing schools and a draconian prison system have had on the black community in particular — two issues Democrats love to rail against but never seem to solve.

“We all know we have to improve our schools,” Perry said. “This is an area where President Obama had potential, but he caved into the demands of labor unions.”

Perry’s record of success in Texas on both these issues is worth noting, particularly in light of the utter failure of Democrat-run states that continue to laud their systems as models of modern progressivism.

In 2013, Texas had the second highest high school graduation rate in the nation, and the highest graduation rate among blacks, 13 points higher than the national average. This was possible because of policies put in place during Perry’s term as governor that focused on teacher accountability and student needs, not union demands. The state also developed a system of sentencing reform that eased up on nonviolent drug offenders and offered second chances for young people.

Meanwhile, thanks in large part to Perry’s work as governor of the Lone Star State, Texas added 1.5 million jobs between 2007 and 2013. (Over that same period, during much of which The Chosen One was lording over the White House, the country lost 400,000 jobs.) Between 2005 and 2007, more blacks moved to Texas than all but one other state, many coming from blue states like New York, Illinois and California.

Perry made his case not only for Texas’ growth as a state that welcomes opportunity for all, but also for his own view of what a truly inclusive American society can be. He has a long road to travel to convince the public, if for no other reason than the institutionalized bias against the Lone Star State in the media. But Perry has started the conversation, and he only needs to continue pushing to make the Republican case in 2016.

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