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May 18th, 2022

Insight

Rise of Black Conservatives Terrifies the Left

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published Sept. 2, 2021

The election to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom is now less than two weeks away. According to California law, Newsom will be removed from office if more than 50% of those casting ballots vote in favor of recall. The ballot also asks who should replace the governor if he is recalled. However, Newsom's replacement would be whichever person named on the ballot receives the most votes. There is no requirement that he or she must receive more than 50% of the votes, or indeed any specific percentage at all.

At this writing, conservative commentator and talk show host Larry Elder appears to be the frontrunner to replace Newsom if the recall succeeds. Elder is a Black man running as a Republican. He also calls himself a "small-'l' libertarian."

This is giving the left apoplectic fits. Exhibit A is the news coverage. On Aug. 20, for example, the Los Angeles Times published a column, "Larry Elder is the Black face of white supremacy." Newspapers and online sites across the country have published articles with a similar bent. And, of course, the smear machine has kicked into high gear, ransacking Elder's past for disgruntled girlfriends or inappropriate comments that the public is somehow supposed to care about.

Elder has largely brushed off the attacks as false and has poked fun at his attackers. In one tweet with a link to the LA Times' column, he joked that it was really something to accuse a kid from "South Central" (Los Angeles, where Elder grew up) of being a white supremacist.

The number of Black Americans who have dared to publicly break with the Democratic Party is growing, as is their visibility. Thomas Sowell and the recently deceased Walter E. Williams are among the best-known conservative economists and scholars in the world. Alan Keyes, Herman Cain and Ben Carson were candidates for president. More recently, Maryland congressional candidate Kim Klacik made waves with her campaign ads. Civil rights attorney Leo Terrell's political switch has made him a fan favorite on Sean Hannity's show. Former Georgia Rep. Vernon Jones is now a candidate for the state's governor, and former football great Herschel Walker is running for a Georgia U.S. Senate seat. Broadcast personalities such as Candace Owens, Sonnie Johnson, David Webb and Charles Payne are grabbing audience attention, as are musicians Kanye West and Zuby.

The rise of Black conservatives has exposed the rank hypocrisy in the left's attitude towards minorities generally and Black Americans specifically. "Politics ain't beanbag," as the saying goes, and anyone who enters the space has to anticipate vehement opposition. But Black conservatives have to endure accusations that they are stupid, are voting (or running) against their own self-interest and that they have betrayed their race. Now, they're being told, often by white liberals, that they aren't really "Black" if they don't agree with the policy positions of the left or support Democrat politicians. President Joe Biden notoriously said during the 2020 campaign that if you were a Black American and voting for Donald Trump, "you ain't black."

It's shocking how condescending and insulting these attacks are. And yet those making them get away with it. No wonder conservatives such as Owens refer to their conversion to conservatism as "escaping" the "Democrat plantation."

What's behind the viciousness? The emergence of a class of Black conservative intellectuals, theorists, politicians, pundits and voters destroys the narrative Democrats have run on for 60 years — that they are the champions of Blacks, and their policies are integral to Blacks' success in America.

This same phenomenon is playing out among other minorities as well. When Dade County went for Trump in 2020, the papers were filled with op-eds explaining that Cubans, Venezuelans and other Latin American Trump supporters weren't really "Hispanic." The numbers of Mexican Americans in Texas who went for Trump did not help this narrative. Neither does the number of Hispanics in California supporting Newsom's recall.

In a saner political environment, disgruntled Blacks, like all similarly situated Americans, could tell the Democratic Party something like this: "We want the same objectives — stronger families, safer neighborhoods, better schools, lower incarceration rates, more employment opportunities, reduced homelessness, increased treatment options for mental illness and substance abuse, a healthier relationship between law enforcement and citizens — but we disagree on the best way to achieve those aims."

But it's no longer clear what the Democratic Party wants besides power. Today's Democratic leadership is controlled by splinter factions angrily pushing issues that lack support from a majority of Americans: open borders, more COVID lockdowns, defunding the police, refusing to enforce laws against theft and vandalism, releasing criminals without bail, and conversion from free market entrepreneurial capitalism to some kind of top-down socialism.

This is unlikely to persuade anyone who's paying attention, especially politicians and activists such as Bernie Sanders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Newsom, who are repeatedly exposed as hypocrites for not living by the rules they demand everyone else follow.

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As more Black conservatives make their presence felt, it should be clear, finally, that the Black vote has never been monolithic. Republicans, who have never been particularly adept at courting minority votes anyway, cannot count on the loyalty of Black conservatives any more than they can white conservatives. The real political divide today is not between Republican and Democrat, but between those who defend individual agency and liberty, and those who believe that a relatively small number of elites should control the lives of the much larger majority.

We fought a war over that political ideology almost 250 years ago, and won because those in power underestimated us and believed that the old political structures would carry the day forever.

Wrong then. Wrong now.

(COMMENT, BELOW)

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.

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