I hadn’t caught any coverage of President Bush’s speech to the Urban League, but it looks like Bush is pushing for the African-American vote in a serious way. This is an interesting political strategy, but if Bush can pull just enough of the African-American vote it could make a big difference in this race. Even 1-2% can make a difference in such a tight race.
His questions to the audience were exactly what he needed to say. For instance:
Does the Democrat party take African American voters for granted? It’s a fair question. I know plenty of politicians assume they have your vote. But do they earn it and do they deserve it? Is it a good thing for the African American community to be represented mainly by one political party? That’s a legitimate question. How is it possible to gain political leverage if the party is never forced to compete? Have the traditional solutions of the Democrat party truly served the African American community?
That’s what I hope people ask when they go to the community centers and places, as we all should do our duty and vote. People need to be asking these very serious questions.
Does blocking the faith-based initiative help neighborhoods where the only social service provider could be a church? Does the status quo in education really, really help the children of this country?
Does class warfare â€” has class warfare or higher taxes ever created decent jobs in the inner city? Are you satisfied with the same answers on crime, excuses for drugs and blindness to the problem of the family?
Those are legitimate questions that I hope people ask as this election approaches. I’d like to hear those questions debated on talk radio, I’d like it debated in community centers, in the coffee shops. It’s worthy of this country for this debate to go forward and these questions to be asked and answered.
I’m here to say that there is an alternative this year. There is an alternative that has had a record that is easy to see. If you dream of starting a small business and building a nest egg and passing something of value to your children, take a look at my agenda. If you believe schools should meet high standards instead of making excuses, take a look at my agenda. If you believe the institutions of marriage and family are worth defending and need defending today, take a look at my agenda.
This strategy is interesting, as African-Americans tend to be strong on family values, strongly against gay marriage, and strongly supportive of school choice. I have the feeling that Bush won’t be taking the African-American vote for granted this election cycle despite the electoral logic that points out that African-Americans are a solid Democratic voting bloc. The patrician John Kerry has a problem connecting with African-American voters, and the selection of the southerner John Edwards doesn’t help much.
If Bush can start to erode Kerry’s support among African-American voters and get them to consider the Republican Party it would be the single biggest shift in electoral politics since Nixon’s Southern Strategy. I rather doubt we’ll see a convincing swing in African-American voting this election cycle, but if we do, it will be very bad news for John Kerry. The Republican message of school reform, social values, and individual opportunity is one that can find fertile soil with many African-Americans who have to live with the failures of Democratic social policies, especially in regards to education. The GOP needs to be more proactive in attracting African-American and other minorities to the party – and it appears that years of the Democrats taking the African-American for granted may be creating a backlash.