Republican ideals, Black illusions

Posted: Nov 06, 2006 12:00 AM

Recent polls done by AP/Ipsos Public Affairs/AOL do not paint a pretty picture regarding the current disposition of black voters toward the state of the country and toward the Republican Party.

Fifteen percent of blacks, as compared with 29 percent of the general population, say that the country is on the right tract. Eighty-one percent of blacks, and 66 percent of the general population, say we're on the wrong track.

When it comes to President Bush, only 12 percent of blacks approves of the job he is doing, versus 37 percent of the overall population, and 86 percent, versus 60 percent of the general population, disapproves.

Congress, in contrast, gets 17 percent approval and 79 percent disapproval from blacks, compared to 25 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval from the general population.

The intensity of black negativity makes the overall dour mood of the general voting population look almost sunny.

Thin support for Republicans among blacks is hardly news. But it appeared in the presidential election in 2004 that Republicans were making inroads with black voters. Support for President Bush had jumped four percentage points over the 2000 election and other polls were showing increasing identification by blacks with the Republican Party.

It looks like gains that may have been made by Republicans with blacks have been lost. So is a Republican big tent that includes blacks a pipedream? Certainly not. But more on this later.

Two major themes driving attitudes are the economy and the war in Iraq.

Regarding the former, prevailing negativism, among blacks and among the general population, is anomalous.

By every measure _growth, productivity, interest rates, inflation, unemployment, the stock market _today's economy is terrific. Yet poll after poll, by margins as large as 20 percent, show preferences for Democrats to be running the economy.

Vice President Cheney, in an interview with Cal Thomas, after noting the undeniably outstanding economic statistics, asked "How much better do we have to make it before people say, 'Yes, that's pretty good?' "

In a recent survey done by the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of whites said they are in good to excellent shape financially, while only 30 percent of blacks felt this way.

Who can possibly question the daily challenges of making a living, and that, on average, blacks continue to lag behind. However, the relevant political issue is getting a realistic perspective on what the government can do to improve anyone's personal economic reality.

Too many blacks still don't get the fact that the only thing government can do for them is get out of the way so that they can take care of themselves. This means government needs to keep taxes, inflation and interest rates low. Politicians can steal what you have, but they certainly can't create wealth for anyone.

By these measures _ low taxes, inflation and interest rates _ things could hardly be better.

Democratic palliatives like the minimum wage, redistribution schemes and social engineering schemes are sad illusions that far too many blacks still buy into. If these things actually worked, blacks wouldn't be in the state they are in today.

The extent to which blacks do indeed still buy into this stuff, and clearly they do, simply tells us the extent to which they are still dreaming rather than working.

The bad news we're getting every day about the war in Iraq is also contributing significantly to the bad mood in the country. And, again, this is more pronounced among blacks.

The AP/Ipsos/AOL polls show that 82 percent of blacks, compared to 58 percent of the overall population, say that going to war in Iraq was a mistake.

According to the Pew Research Center, even one in four moderate Democrats feel that the war in Iraq was the right move. So why do blacks poll on the farthest left fringe of the Democratic Party on this issue?

I'm afraid that it's not because of some special insight on how better to contend with the very real threats to us from terrorists and Islamic extremists. Unfortunately, I think a lot of it is driven by the same distorted ideas about government that are so persistent in black attitudes. The issue isn't so much about how we're spending our defense dollars, but that we should redirect that government spending into domestic social programs (which don't work).

Loss of ground that Republicans may have experienced this year with blacks reflects more deficiencies in getting the message of limited government into this community and not that the message is any less relevant.

Black progress still hinges on education, and this means school choice, on ownership, and on re-building black families, which means traditional values.

This is a Republican agenda. It's clear that this party has a lot of work to do in the black community.