What if 90 percent of the white electorate had turned out last Tuesday to vote for Republican candidates in virtually every electoral district across the country?
What if Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott had spent the last weeks before the election visiting all-white churches and making not-so-covert appeals to the congregations’ alleged racial interest in expanding the Republican majority?
What if Carol Moseley-Braun had been defeated because 93 percent of whites voted against her?
What if a Republican representing a white suburban district had received 94 percent of the vote against his opponent, the way Charles Rangel actually did in his Harlem district? (This, mind you, was only 1 percent less than the widow of the Tennessee candidate murdered by his opponent received in defeating her husband’s killer.)
What if Colin Powell was president and Tom Wolfe wrote a piece imitating Toni Morrison’s fatuous New Yorker article, hailing the first white African-American president because he did not come from a dysfunctional family, spoke the King’s English, played the violin and favored cuisine like quiche Lorraine?
The morning after the election, I received the following phone message from a black family member, recorded on my answering machine: “Well, I just had to call to chuckle over the election results. Black people finally got heard. I guess O.J. and Bill Clinton do have something in common.” (Well, she got that last point right, though not in the way she undoubtedly meant it.) I didn’t respond in kind, but suppose the circumstances had been reversed, and the Democrats had lost big time, and I had called my black relative and said, “I just had to chuckle because white people were finally heard.”
Of course, the double standard by which we have come to judge the behaviors of white and black Americans has gone so far that a significant portion of the public has been persuaded that the lock-step political choices of the African-American community are motivated by a justifiable racial solidarity. In other words, they have nothing remotely in common with the counterexamples I have suggested, which they would rightly regard as the expressions of a deplorable racial prejudice.
But are these political reflexes of the African-American community so obviously appropriate to African-American interests, as liberals claim? Larry Elder, a black libertarian talk show host in Los Angeles, thinks they are not. Recently, Elder published the following list of “15 Reasons Why Blacks Shouldn’t Support Clinton”:
1. Tax hikes. Elder reminds us that during the Reagan years, black teenage and adult unemployment fell dramatically because lower taxes stimulated business formation and expansion, creating employment opportunities for unskilled labor.
2. Affirmative action, which promotes the fallacious idea of the “Big Bang Theory of the Black Middle Class” — that the black middle class owes its existence and success to government preferences rather than to its own achievement. In fact, the growth of the black middle class was more rapid before affirmative action programs were put in place.
3. Minimum wage increases. Elder cites Milton Friedman’s observation that the minimum wage is “one of the most anti-black laws on the statute books” because it destroys entry-level jobs for second-paycheck earners, teens and other unskilled workers.