by Rod D. Martin
August 24, 2005
When conservatives talk about moral or “family” values, it’s time they explicitly and pointedly included “ending racism” in their list. There are three reasons for this: one moral, one practical, and yes, one political. And any of those reasons would be enough all by itself.
The moral reason is straightforward and, in Jefferson’s words (if not quite his practice), self-evident: all men are created equal. People should be judged by their actions, not their gene pool; and this founding premise of the American republic leaves little room for arbitrary distinctions based on race.
Americans have done far better at this than might seem true at first glance. Very few traditional racial distinctions remain on these shores, as many of the downtrodden groups of yesteryear — Italians, assorted Slavs, my own Irish, you-name-it — are no longer even seen as separate races, and are celebrated for their unique ethnic heritages.
But particularly for blacks, the past is not quite past enough. As noted author Wayne Perryman puts it, “Republicans must realize that every black congregation in America has (both liberal and conservative) members who have been victims of racial discrimination .” This in turn breeds hatred the other way. And all of it militates against conservatives’ core principles, especially for Christians, who believe that Christ’s covenant abolishes racial distinctions, saving sinners of all nations based not on their lineage but on a new birth, an adoption by the Father.
So the moral argument is clear, as essential as the sanctity of the family or the Founding Fathers’ inalienable right to life. And conservatives should say so just as clearly and as often.
But how? Should conservatives blindly ape liberals, including their disastrous big government “solutions”, all to show they “care”?
No, and they don’t need to. And indeed, the very practical reason that conservatives should tackle the race issue today is that they can now bring something truly new, truly revolutionary, to the table.
Where the left brought economic dependence, theoretically “compensating” for past and present injustice, conservatives today can offer economic liberty: real power, real dignity, real hope.
Examples — frequently poignant — abound. Black children need vouchers to escape from inner city schools; black children without vouchers need honest, courageous policemen to keep them safe. Aspiring black entrepreneurs need tax relief, policies that encourage successful small businesses in even the poorest communities. Black families need a way to finance health care — such as a tax-exempt health savings account — that isn’t dependent on a particular employer, is completely portable, and gives them control over what they pay to whom.
Elderly blacks, like many other Americans, need a Social Security system that includes private accounts because few can afford both taxes and an IRA. But they also need private accounts because they don’t live as long as whites: with an average life expectancy of just 65 years, black men rarely live to see a Social Security check, meaning they work all their lives to pay for some white woman’s retirement. Private accounts would let them keep their money for their own families. Repealing the Death Tax would help them keep their businesses for their families too.
In short, black people need the same things we all need: they aren’t just a liberal social engineering project or a pitied victim group. Conservatives should make this point, and often. It’s the moral thing to do. It’s also a practical necessity. Big government liberalism has failed; but by encouraging economic freedom, we could eliminate intergenerational black poverty, and we could do it in our lifetime.
Given these things, who needs a political reason to act? But there is one.
Black Americans aren’t stupid. They know the left is out of answers; they know the Democrats take them for granted; and they know that on every other moral issue — from life to family to school choice — their party left them long ago.
What they don’t know is whether they can trust us. Let’s rephrase that: they clearly believe they can’t.
It’s long past time we earn back their trust.
Our party was founded for this: to abolish slavery, and to establish liberty, against Democrats who would abide neither. Is there a difference between the slavery of the plantation and the slavery of the welfare check, the inner-city slum, and the tyranny of the neighborhood gang? Certainly. But neither one is freedom.
We conservatives can solve these problems. Indeed, we alone can solve these problems. And in time, by more consistently and visibly living out our principles, we can create a new colorblind coalition which will change American politics and set an example for the world.
Let’s start today.