Conservatives think in terms of individuals, liberals think in terms of groups.
That is one of my key takeaways from Kevin Jackson’s autobiographical “The Big Black Lie: How I Learned The Truth About The Democrat Party“. Jackson, black conservative and founder of The Black Sphere blog, grew up in Texas with one foot in the world of poor black poverty and the other in the world of white wealth.
I recommend this book: it’s a quick, easy and highly-entertaining read. It also describes a very interesting, self-driven man.
In his book, Jackson attributes much of the dysfunction on one side of his (staunch Democrat) family to the enablement of bad behavior by the Left and a nurtured (by whites) tendency of many black people to think of themselves as “takers” from, rather than “giver to”, society. He blames much of the group think in black society on the long-term self-identification of black people as “blacks first” (the “Black Code”) and the compulsion of the Liberal Left to treat black people as a monolithic identify group. Incidentally, Jackson also believes that much of what black people identify as “racism” is really classicism – behavior dictated not by the color of the skin but by economic position and culture.
I was reminded about this while sitting in the garden with my (very Liberal, very ethnic..i.e., secular Jewish) neighbors over beers. I happened to mention that we had new neighbors moving into an adjoining house and (to goose the goat) mentioned that they were black.
“Oh wonderful,” burbled my neighbor. “It will be so wonderful to get a black family in our neighborhood”.
I didn’t mention that this black family ran a drug enterprise in the Chicago inner city (Just kidding! My wife and I already know them to be stellar individuals with wonderful kids).
What was so funny, though, is that, sigh unseen, our new neighbors had already been pigeon-holed by my neighbor on the basis of their skin color. I suspect that what my neighbor meant is that by having a token black family in our neighborhood, she could then absolve herself of any perceived racism.
I think that a political liability of Republicans and conservatives is our tendency to define people by their individual characteristics rather than by their identity group. A Lefty political candidate has no problem getting on the stump and defining people by their group identity (blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, seniors) when promising largesse. Conservatives recoil at such distinctions. I know that I do.
For example, I oppose affirmative action in university admissions based on skin color, but have no problem with providing support to individuals, no matter what their ethnic or racial identification, based on economic need. If this applies disproportionately to different ethnics groups, so be it.
Politically, though, this leaves Leftwing politicians free to make promises to specific identity groups that conservatives are unable to do. Democrats can promise to direct largesse to specific Hispanic or black voting blocks, whereas conservatives candidates are left to explain what they will do to help the “poor” or “the disadvantaged among us” in much more general terms. This certainly doesn’t resonate as well, does it? For “black” voters, it can appear as if Republicans are ignoring them.
What say you?