Reaching new demographics

One of the things that this election most vividly illustrated is that the lockstep political beliefs Democrats envision don’t really exist within their own party:  Blacks and Hispanics turned out in droves to help power Obama into the White House, but they were the same demographic that, in California, helped Proposition 8 (the anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment) win.  In other words, while they loved the idea of a minority president, Blacks and Hispanics proved that they are still social conservatives.

We know that’s true in one other major area, too.  Blacks and Hispanics do not have the love affair with abortion that white liberals do.  Again, they are more conservative.

Blacks and Hispanics are also the ones who should be most interested in a fluid capitalist system.  America’s history shows that, absent specific discriminatory laws, American-style capitalism has consistently allowed new immigrants to ascend to the working and middle class within one or two generations — and that was true despite strong social discrimination.  (“No Irish need apply.”  “Jews not welcome.”)  In a fluid system, Irish and Jews and all other immigrant groups simply made their own success and then had the other groups eventually begging to join in.

Likewise, we know from the miserably failed Great Society experiment that a welfare state destroys blacks, as well as other minority and immigrant groups that buy into it.  It’s a true opiate, keeping them in a poverty stricken haze supported by small checks.  It saps ambition and initiative.  It’s like cocaine — a cheap high with the first hit/check, followed by dependence and degradation.

The problem for conservatives isn’t that we don’t have a good message for Hispanics and Blacks.  It’s that they won’t listen to us. Everything conservatives say is deflected, twisted and denied.  Point out that blacks make greater strides in the Bush administration than they did in the Clinton administration, and you’re told that those blacks weren’t real blacks, they were just Uncle Toms.  Point out that blacks made economic gains after welfare reform, and you’re told that systemic racism is still destroying them.  Point out that black on black crime, or Hispanic on Hispanic crime, is a scourge, and can best be dealt with by a strong police presence in ailing communities, and you’re told that you’re racist for trying to sic the cops on minorities.

We have so many good messages to give to minorities, but they refuse to hear them.

Funnily enough, C.S. Lewis best described the frustration conservatives feel when trying to communicate to minorities the benefits the conservative political system has for them. As you may know, The Last Battle, which is the last book in the Narnia series, envisions a Narnian Armageddon.  During the eponymous last battle, which pitches the forces of good and evil against each other, the dwarfs peel off and form their own coalition:  “The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”

For many Narnians during this last battle, death comes to them when they are pitched through the door of a dark, dank stable.  When the good characters are pitched through that door, they find themselves in a rich, beautiful pastoral environment.  The dwarfs, however, when pitched through that door find, not the fires of hell, but simply a dark, dank stable — and nothing anyone does can convince them otherwise:

They [the Dwarfs] had a very odd look.  They weren’t strolling about or enjoying themselves (although the cords with which they had been tied seemed to have vanished) nor were they lying down and having a rest.  They were sitting very close together in a little circle facing one another.  They never looked round or took anynotice of the humans till Lucy and Tirian were almost near enough to touch them.  Then the Dwarfs all cocked their heads as if they couldn’t see anyone but were listening hard and trying to guess by the sound what was happening.

“Look out!” said one of them in a surly voice.  “Mind whwere you’re going.  Don’t walk into our faces!”

“All right!”  said Eustace indignantly.  “We’re not blind.  We’ve got eyes in our heads.”

“They must be darn good ones if you can see in here,” said the same Dwarf whose name was Diggle.

“In where?” asked Edmund.

“Why you bone-head, in here fo course,” said Diggle.  “In this pitch-black, poky, smelly little hole of a stable.”

“Are you all blind?” said Tirian.

“Ain’t we all blind in the dark!” said Diggle.

“But it isn’t dark, you poor stupid Dwarfs,” said Lucy.  “Can’t you see the sky and the trees and the flowers?  Can’t you see me?”

“How in the name of all Humbug can I see what ain’t there?  Andhow can I see you any more than you can see me in this pitch darkness?”

“But I can see you,” said Lucy.  “I’ll prove I can see you.  You’ve got a pipe in your mouth.”

“Anyone that knows the smell of baccy could tell that,” said Diggle.

“Oh the poor things!  This is dreadful,” said Lucy.  Then she had an idea.  She stopped and picked some wild violets.  “Listen, Dwarf,” she said.  “Even if your eyes are wrong, perhaps your nose is all right:  can you smell that?”  She leaned acorss and held the fresh, damp flowers to Diggle’s ugly nose.  But she had to jump back quickly in order to avoid a blow from his hard little fist.

“None of that!” he shouted.  “How dare you!  What do you mean by shoving a lot of filthy stable-litter in my face?  There was a thistle in it too.  It’s like your sauce!  And who are you, anyway?”

And so it goes as the good characters try desperately to make the Dwarfs realize that they are surrounded by beauty and plenty, while the Dwarfs can see only darkness and despair.  That scene so strongly reminds me of the way in which communications between the two groups are stymied by preconceived notions and prejudice, not about race, but about ideas.

The big challenge in the next few years is to shape conservative communications so that they break through these barriers, and show Blacks and Hispanics that they’re not living in a dank, poverty-stricken Marxist stable, but in a large, bountiful America, in which middle Americans share their conservative social values, and want them to share the nation’s capitalist bounty.

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Comments

  1. Danny Lemieux says

    Interesting. I haven’t read “The Last Battle” but your description tracks well with C.S . Lewis’ imagined and very Anglican description of heaven and hell in the “Great Divorce”, the large dank stable representing an afterlife separated from God.

    Yes, the metaphor is very apt to what we confront today.

  2. BobK says

    Danny,

    Do read “The Last Battle”. I’ve read the whole Narnia series to my children four times. Every time I reach the final few paragraphs, I tear up. It’s a stirring story!

    The dwarfs attitude is simply stated thus: “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs!” They believe what they want to believe, regardless of reality. They will alter their own perceptions toward misery so long as it does not contradict their notion of reality.

    A most apt analogy!

  3. Fionnchu says

    Down south, I voted for the chickens too, and against Prop. 8. A friend who was married to his partner to beat the deadline last month (my wife was their witness) up north sent me this Daily Kos entry by a black woman vehemently denying that that segment alone could have passed 8, but as my Obama-sympathetic wife agrees, it’s still shameful for millions of our fellow Californians– even if the numbers do not crunch totally. I have not seen other coverage on this data; the NY Times waited until deep in its story buried in the middle of the section to even raise the African-American plurality here. The AA blogger below protests methinks too much, as if it’s “blaming the victim,” but it may be worth a bit of scrutiny from your savvy readers.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/11/7/34645/1235/704/656272
    “Facts Belie the Stereotyping of Black People for Prop. 8″

    With enough SoCal backing, half of the Latinos, the conservative inland counties, and 70% black votes, that comprised the margin of 5% and more surely to offset the Northern Cal-coastal liberal opposition. There’s already spin control out not to rile the nice people, however, who passed Prop. 8:

    NoOnProp8.com “Stand Together” letter to supporters: last of 3 paragraphs:
    “We achieve nothing if we isolate the people who did not stand with us in this fight. We only further divide our state if we attempt to blame people of faith, African American voters, rural communities and others for this loss. We know people of all faiths, races and backgrounds stand with us in our fight to end discrimination, and will continue to do so. Now more than ever it is critical that we work together and respect our differences that make us a diverse and unique society. Only with that understanding will we achieve justice and equality for all.”

    P.S. Thanks for a thoughtful blog that I have already referred others to, and linked to on my blog. I only found out about it a few days before the election from a friend who told me about such efforts out there– I had no idea that there were so many others articulating well what I’d kept taciturn about, fearing nobody agreed with my doubts.

  4. Deana says

    I so believe that conservatives MUST target minorities from here on out. Supporting the existing minority conservatives and increasing the number of them on our side must be one of our priorities.

    I recently had a conversation with a black man who told me in effect that the successes of someone like Dr. Rice “don’t count” like Obama successfully running for president would “count.” (This conversation happened before the election.)

    When I asked him why that was, he wouldn’t answer. I suspect it is because down deep, he knows that his reasoning is not something of which he is proud.

    Why aren’t black conservatives considered “legitimately” black?

    I want to help support these minorities. We need to help get them in the public eye and battle charges of being an “Uncle Tom.”

    Deana

  5. Charles Martel says

    Deana,

    The reason why black conservatives aren’t considered “legitimately black” is because of what I call the “Canada Syndrome.”

    Canada Syndrome is that weird state of affairs where an entire people define themselves by what they are not — in Canadians’ case, NOT Americans.

    For many blacks, thinking like a Thomas Sowell or acting like a Condi Rice is the same as acting like the people they’re not: whites.

    Yes, it’s stupid and silly, but it’s a huge block to reaching people who could vastly benefit from a real look at conservatism.

    Perhaps one wedge for us would be to point to race pimps like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and ask one question: Where would Barack Obama be if he had listened to little men like them?

    Is it possible that a classically educated man like Obama is the true paragon for young blacks, and not pathetic losers like gangbangers, rap artists or corrupt jive-talking big-city mayors?

    Maybe by appealing to the best that blacks have achieved — Obama — rather than the pathetic lowlifes that have stolen the limelight, we could get something going.

    PS: Yes, I know that Obama is a lightweight and a poseur (please, God, I pray I’m wrong). But he is still light years ahead perceptually of the parasites that currently are held up as exemplars among African Americans.

  6. Deana says

    Hi Charles –

    The “Canada Syndrome” is a good way of explaining that, actually!

    And I like your “wedge” idea. I think it was Neo-Neocon who mentioned this evening that a friend was watching a TV program last night and several black American men commented that after the Obama win, they had no excuse for not doing something with their lives.

    The Obama win has taken away the excuse. And perhaps it will take away the knee-jerk defensiveness we so often hear when anyone, black or white, challenges black Americans about their unwillingness to give full credit to those black Americans who have eschewed liberal ideology and become successful on their own.

    That being said, Charles, you scared me for a minute when you said Obama is “classically educated.” Then I saw your PS. You got me.

    Deana

  7. suek says

    >>But he is still light years ahead perceptually of the parasites that currently are held up as exemplars among African Americans.>>

    Primarily, I think, because he was raised in a white family. In addition, I can tell you that 50 years ago, there wasn’t the antagonism between the races. Maybe that’s because blacks “knew their place” and didn’t resist. Or maybe it’s because of people like Ayers use indoctrination to agitate blacks in order to precipitate a race “war”. Class is not a factor that works in the US like it might in some other countries, but color seems to. You can’t have a revolution without the “underclass” – so blacks will have to do.

    So what happens now? I happen to think that Obama’s term is going to be disastrous…what will blacks think? At the end of four years, will they gloss over any bad stuff and blame it all on whites? Powell wasn’t enough to make them feel “equal”, Condi wasn’t enough – will Obama do the trick? No one can pull blacks out of their malaise except themselves – will the inspiration of Obama accomplish that? If the disaster I fear is temporary in its results, then it would probably not be too high a price to pay if it pulls blacks out of their doldrums. To be honest, with the agenda of the triumverate, I fear the results will be long lasting and devasting and won’t help blacks much at all.

  8. Charles Martel says

    suek:

    I fear as you do, too. I’m not so sure that Obama is the guy many of us would have hoped for as the first black president.

    To me he combines the worst stereotypes of his two ethnic backgrounds: The disdainful, effete, utopian mindset of upper middle-class whites — and the astounding ignorance that comes with it (“57 states”) — and the expectation of government largesse and boo boo kissing that comes from his black background.

    When this empty suit crashes, there will be all sorts of fingers pointed — all in the wrong directions, I fear.

    I wish I could just sit back over a big bowl of extra-buttered popcorn while I watch this slow train wreck occur. Unfortunately, the adults among us are going to have to suit up and be ready to clean up the mess.

  9. Mike Devx says

    Obama defined himself in the 2004 Convention speech by saying (paraphrase), “We are not the Red States or America, we are not the Blue States of America, we are the United States of America.” He successfully kept the largely uninformed Independents in his camp by repeatedly invoking this image of himself as a centrist.

    It’s hard for me to imagine that he succeeded at this, but he did. Reality gonna smack all those voters upside the head Big Time, soon! As an election strategy, however, you can’t deny its success.

    I hope we can succeed in pulling large numbers of Hispanics and Blacks to our cause. The message is going to have to be clear, that conservatives represent their best hope, not liberals. We’ll have to own new slogans that further our cause and implicitly tar and feather our liberal opponents at the same time.

    Real Solutions For True Americans
    Together We Are True Americans
    An America That Works

    Because the media is liberal, they’ll not “tar and feather” liberalism, so we have a tough job we cannot shrink from. We must promote ourselves; and we must do the heavy job of discrediting the opposition. Simultaneously. I don’t believe there is any way around the need to do both.

  10. Mike Devx says

    Obama defined himself in the 2004 Convention speech by saying (paraphrase), “We are not the Red States or America, we are not the Blue States of America, we are the United States of America.” He successfully kept the largely uninformed Independents in his camp by repeatedly invoking this image of himself as a centrist.

    It’s hard for me to imagine that he succeeded at this, but he did. Reality gonna smack all those voters upside the head Big Time, soon! As an election strategy, however, you can’t deny its success.

    I hope we can succeed in pulling large numbers of Hispanics and Blacks to our cause. The message is going to have to be clear, that conservatives represent their best hope, not liberals. We’ll have to own new slogans that further our cause and implicitly tar and feather our liberal opponents at the same time.

    Real Solutions For True Americans
    Together We Are True Americans
    An America That Works

    Because the media is liberal, they’ll not “tar and feather” liberalism, so we have a tough job we cannot shrink from. We must promote ourselves; and we must do the heavy job of discrediting the opposition. Simultaneously. I don’t believe there is any way around the need to do both.

  11. Tiresias says

    There’s nothing wrong with conservative communications. The problem is you can’t reach people who wilfully and actively avoid being reached.

    To take the screechingly obvious example, the black vote goes 90%+ to the democrat party every time. There is not a logical explanation in the history of this planet for this.

    - the democrat party was on the wrong side in the Civil War
    - the democrat party was on the wrong side in the hundred years that followed said war, the Jim Crow era
    - George Wallace, Bull Connor, Huey Long – fill in the remaining few hundred blanks – were all democrats
    - the democrat party spent weeks and months filibustering LBJ’s excellent civil rights legislation – led by such luminaries as Al Gore’s worthless Daddy – and it took republicans to vote for and pass it.
    - after which the democrat LBJ’s wrong-headed poverty legislation (which the democrats voted for, scenting votes, and republicans voted against) proceeded to destroy the black family
    - For all of his hot air, Bill Clinton did little, and the first black Secretary of State, first black NSC Adviser,and the first black female anything (OK, I’ll grant Jocelyn Elders is arguably female) important were all GW Bush – republican – appointments.

    But the black vote will still go 90%+ democrat. And any of the questions you can pose about why that is, Helen will call you a racist for even asking.

  12. Mike Devx says

    Tiresias (#14)
    >> But the black vote will still go 90%+ democrat. And any of the questions you can pose about why that is, Helen will call you a racist for even asking. >>

    I’ve got to say, that is hilariously phrased! I laughed out loud.

    I know I’ve read quite a few things by Helen that indicate she’s convinced that America remains deeply racist. As with most liberals she focuses solely on racism in America and not in most of the rest of the world, where such problems as racism, tribalism and xenophobia are far, far worse than they are here.

    I don’t recall her labelling any of us explicitly racist for any of our comments, but it’s been awhile since she’s commented on that subject here, so my shady memory could simply be faulty…

  13. suek says

    >>I don’t recall her labelling any of us explicitly racist for any of our comments>>

    There is no doubt in my mind that she considers any of us who have expressed the opinion that it is lack of skills and/or accomplishments plus the seeming lack of desire to acquire either or both of those that has resulted in the poverty of blacks rather than simply the excess pigmentation of their skin to be racist. She herself is cultured enough not to assert this aggressively or offensively. If I understand her correctly – and I may not – she was raised in our “racist” white privileged culture and was a late convert to the cause of black equality – which as far as I’m concerned actually means black superiority – expressed by _us_ working for _them_.
    Most of us white privileged folk have not yet been blessed by seeing the light.

  14. Ymarsakar says

    As with most liberals she focuses solely on racism in America and not in most of the rest of the world, where such problems as racism, tribalism and xenophobia are far, far worse than they are here.

    If you ever read Helen’s links explaining white privilege, you would see that Helen doesn’t even talk about the racism in America. She doesn’t talk about the Democrat party, the KKK, Robert Byrd, or any other white privilege offshoot in America. She only talks about pro-Democrat policies. That’s not talking about racism. That’s talking about how to best use racism for partisan politics.

    At best, speaking of whities as being part of institutional racism requiring affirmative action policies towards blacks (and Obama), is simply intellectual dishonest. It is never necessarily true that just because people like Helen knows about institutional racism that they are not perpetuating this institution by their actions. The fact that Helen will always deny this, will never be interested in finding out whether her actions are supporting the institution of racism and white privilege here in America, belies her repeated messages of “healing” the nation from racism. Can’t heal anybody by using deception.

    The soldiers in the Union Army in the Civil War did more to heal America than any number of Helens have.

Trackbacks

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