Thomas Sowell
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Nowhere is political frivolity more in evidence than in issues involving racial and ethnic groups. Disagree with some policies or demands and you become an instant "racist."

The substance of those policies or demands, and the substance of the objections to them, get lost in an orgy of rhetoric and personal accusations. Racial issues are just one of a growing number of issues where rational discussion has become virtually impossible.

Rational discussion would not serve the interests of the Democratic Party, and the Republicans think that the way to increase their small share of the black vote is to imitate the Democrats.

All the most powerful groups within the Democratic Party -- the teachers' unions, environmental zealots, lawyers who make big bucks off frivolous lawsuits, and the American Civil Liberties Union -- have interests diametrically opposed to the interests of blacks.

The teachers' unions fight any attempt to allow parents to pull their children out of failing schools and no one needs to do that more than black parents who want their children to get a decent education -- without which they have little chance for a better life.

Severe building restrictions imposed by environmental zealots make housing prices skyrocket, forcing blacks by the tens of thousands out of San Francisco and other places dominated by green limousine liberals.

Huge damage awards or out-of-court settlements won by frivolous lawsuits force up all prices, with special impact on low-income groups, such as blacks.

When the American Civil Liberties Union and liberal judges are able to get criminals freed on flimsy grounds, or prevent hoodlums from being expelled from the public schools, the community most likely to be harmed is the black community.

How then can the Democrats consistently get the lion's share of black votes? And why can't the Republicans make any serious inroads?

Democrats understand that the key to their success is in keeping blacks dependent and fearful. They cry "racism" at every opportunity and resurrect every grievance of the past. But the real secret of their success is the ineptness of Republicans.

Republicans have been trying to win over the average black voter, something they are not likely to do for decades, if not generations, because political inertia is powerful.

Blacks voted solidly Republican for more than half a century after Abraham Lincoln and solidly Democratic for more than half a century after Franklin D. Roosevelt. Nor are blacks unique. The "solid South" voted Democratic for more than a century.

The only black voters the G.O.P. have any real chance to attract are those whose views and values happen to be closer to those of the Republicans than those of the Democrats.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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