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January 04, 2004

Underestimated

According to Jonetta Barras and the Joint Center, I have underestimated the numbers of black Republicans. This is good news, but it means I've been a bit out of perspective with my own goals. I cannot say, however that hitting a numerical target was the ultimate goal, rather shifting the balance of power and demonstrating a black Republican praxis was and remains my aim in that direction.

There has been a measurable rightward shift in the black electorate. In 2002 the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a liberal think tank, asked black respondents in its national survey to identify themselves as either Democrats, independents or Republicans. Although 63 percent claimed to be Democrats, the number was down from 74 percent in 2000. The decrease occurred in nearly every age group, including among respondents 65 and older (where the drop was from 82 percent to 75 percent). There was a significant increase in those calling themselves independents, especially between the ages of 26 and 35. Respondents identifying themselves as Republicans also increased: Between ages 26 and 35, the share tripled, going from 5 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2002.

This has raised the ire of some, but it proves to me that it's very difficult to get an accurate rendition of the African American political character.

Barras' article is a must-read. It portrays an electorate on the move and parties who will have to work hard to earn their trust and vote. It gives some hard figures that defy stereotyped views of the African American electorate. I've been caught off guard. Have you?

There's one other thing I should clarify at this point. I do not believe that the Old School agenda will be accomplished strictly through Republicanism. That is one of the reasons I gave up the domain and website, oldschoolrepublicans.net. I think that a fundamental flaw in the caustic nature of dissing black Republicans comes from that assumption - that blacks abandon themselves, their communities and everything else because they embrace the GOP. It's more likely the case that blacks who take the Democrats for granted (and vice-versa) are the ones who mistakenly assume that their entire political agenda must be accepted by their party. This is why we constantly hear such strident litmus tests from them. But I understand that everything good for the nation and the progress of African America does not issue forth from governments, parties, churches, businesses, schools or non-profits exclusively. There is a balance. And into this balance, a lot more GOP is coming, more than perhaps any of us expected.

UPDATE: Tacitus gets 85 comments 3 days later. I'm going to have to put out a neon sign or something.

Posted by mbowen at January 4, 2004 09:00 AM

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