By Frances Rice
The perennial question posed during every election season is: How can Republicans win back the black vote? As a retired Army lieutenant colonel and chairman of the National Black Republican Association, I can tell you there are clear steps to take.
But before we can get to solving the problem, it is necessary to first understand the root cause.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Republican Party has never turned its back on black Americans. It continuously conducts black voter engagement, as is done for all identifiable groups, including Hispanics, rural Americans, the middle-class in “fly-over country,” young voters and women.
The root cause of the refusal of most black Americans to vote for Republicans rests squarely with the Democratic Party establishment (which includes the media and much of the education structure) that has convinced most blacks that the Republican Party is a racist party. Every election cycle, Democrats go into black communities and preach hatred against Republicans and get blacks to cast a protest vote against Republicans — not a vote for Democrats.
This has been overtly detrimental to blacks. To read details about how the race-mongering by Democrats harms blacks, see Walter E. Williams’ “The True Black Tragedy.” See also “Why the Left Can’t Let Go of Racism” by Shelby Steele.
Even though only about 25% of black Americans live in urban communities targeted by Democrats, the false narrative that Republicans are racist is broadcast to the rest of the country by the liberal press that functions as the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.
Progress is being made with the educational campaign to set the civil rights record straight and recapture the rich civil rights legacy of the Republican Party, which is the mission of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA).
The Republican Party of Florida is at the forefront of this educational campaign and is the home state for the NBRA that was founded in 2005 in the West Palm Beach headquarters of Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media, at the behest of former Republican Party of Palm Beach County Chairman Sid Dinerstein.
When Democrats and the media are confronted with the strong Republican voting record for blacks, the fiction created to explain it is that everyone switched parties in the 1970s, just changed hats. That did not happen.
It does not pass the common sense test to believe that the parties switched sides after: Republicans fought the Civil War to end slavery; amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th Amendment) and the right to vote (15th Amendment); and championed every piece of civil rights legislation from the 1860’s to the 1960’s, including voting in higher percentages for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act than did Democrats. For an extensive, fact-filled history of civil rights and where Republicans and Democrats stood, read Kevin D Williamson’s “The Parties Did Not Switch Sides – Update: The Republican Party is The Party of Civil Rights.”
When addressing economic issues with black voters, it is essential that Republican leaders recognize that the party’s conservative message of low taxes, smaller government and prosperity through free enterprise does not resonate with the average black voter.
First, a far higher percentage of black Americans are employed by the government than other races or ethnicities. So when they hear that Republicans want to reduce taxes and the size of government, they hear that Republicans want to take away their jobs. And of course, the media is quick to spread that word.
Second, according to a report “The State of Working America,” among racial and ethnic groups, black Americans had the highest poverty rate, 27.4 percent, followed by Hispanics at 26.6 percent and whites at 9.9 percent. Therefore, when poor blacks hear that Republicans want to reduce taxes and the size of government, they hear that Republicans want to take away their welfare checks.
Notably, according to a Heritage Foundation report, since the War on Poverty began under President Lyndon Johnson, welfare spending has exploded to sixteen times its original size and the cost has risen to a staggering $22 trillion — three times more than what the government has spent on all wars in American history.
That report finds that massive welfare spending has not led to a drop in the poverty rate. Another finding is how misleading it is to think that Americans are not better off today. Noted is the fact that a household receiving $50,000 in welfare benefits would still be classified as poor, if its pre-welfare income fell below the poverty line. Statistics show that 80 percent of America’s poor households have air conditioning, two-thirds have cable or satellite television, half have a personal computer and 43 percent have access to the internet. Virtually all have smartphones.
Given the above information, it can be concluded that a winning message for Republicans to deliver to black Americans, as well as all Americans, is being very explicit about how tax cuts and deregulation result in more jobs and higher wages for everyone. Under the Trump Administration, these actions have resulted in historic low black unemployment and rising wages.
Republican leaders would also do well to emphasize the prison reform, school choice programs and the faith-based initiative implemented by President Donald J. Trump — all issues that do resonate with black voters.
Worth noting is that, according to the most recent U.S census data, there are nearly 325 million people in the United States, and the voting age population exceeds 235.2 million, with African Americans comprising 12.5 percent. Since it is estimated that about 10 percent of blacks align with the Republican Party, that means that there are about 2.9 million Black Republicans. That’s not a miniscule amount. But it can be a lot more.
The issues of why tax cuts help blacks, along with prison reform, school choice and faith-based programs need to be pointed out to black voters to counter the false narratives coming from the Democrat media establishment.
Frances Rice is a lawyer, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and chairman of the National Black Republican Association. She was honored as one of America’s Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women by Dollars and Sense magazine. She may be contacted at: www.nbra.info