- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Winning the general election and adding Republican seats in the House and Senate, President Bush earned his mandate, clearing the way for his agenda which includes appointing conservatives to the bench. In fact, Mr. Bush may choose to nominate Justice Clarence Thomas to replace an ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. By doing so, the president would make American history and change racial expectations and political landscapes.

Justice Thomas’ elevation and his successful confirmation also would change aspects of African American social, cultural and political climate for the unforeseeable future. Before we rush to disagree, America is ready for this historic opportunity. By majority on Nov. 2, 2004, the American electorate revealed to American elite — still, that the people, county by county, believe that traditional values express its national ethos. Justice Thomas closely represents mainstream American values.

The Pew Research Center conducted a poll (Sept. — Oct. 2003), that prophetically reported, “Voters who attend religious services regularly favor re-electing Bush by strong margins, while those who rarely attend religious services clearly favor a Democratic candidate.” The poll data suggested that 63 percent of church attendees planned to support the sitting president, George Bush. On the other hand, 37 percent of those polled planned to vote for any Democratic nominee. Of those who seldom attend church, 62 percent planned to vote for the Democratic nominee; only 38 percent intended to vote for Mr. Bush.

Commenting on African American conservative religious values, Steven Waldman, writing for Slate, admits that blacks are conservative on cultural issues. He states, “On many issues over which liberals mock the ‘the religious right,’ African Americans are closer to the evangelicals than the rest of the Democratic Party.” He adds, “Even more important, African Americans tend to concur with the Republican position on the hot issue of gay marriage. Sixty-four percent oppose it as compared to 44 percent among white mainline Protestants and 30 percent among secular Democrats. Mr. Waldman goes on to say that blacks “support the Republican position on the death penalty, despite evidence that its implementation tends to discriminate against blacks.”

In the decisive Ohio election, 60 percent of African Americans voted against same-sex marriages. Statistically, Justice Thomas is well within the margin of African American cultural conservatism and other Americans’ cultural expectations on most of his opinions and dissents.

Where are the political pitfalls? Justice Thomas may be a threat to liberal hegemony. Many of whom are weary that unexpectedly, Justice Thomas is “the new Negro” role model, who like a Hebrew prophet shares his message of hope as nothing more than returning to religious and family values, hard work, self-help and personal responsibility. For instance, Cornel West, a prolific liberal scholar, writing in “Race Matters,” admits that “[George Herbert Walker] Bush’s choice of Thomas caught most black leaders off guard.” Although Mr. West harshly questioned Justice Thomas’ qualifications to be an associate justice, he conceded that black leadership was not prepared to have competition for the hearts and minds of black America, especially an alternative, ardently conservative voice.

Mr. West published “Race Matters” in 1993, and still black liberal leadership is not prepared for Justice Thomas. This is partly because Justice Thomas provides ideological competition for what many believe will aid black America’s self-improvement. Also, Mr. West exposes an apparent leadership flaw. The flaw is its unbridled political partisanship. African Americans are conditioned to receive leadership from a partisan worldview that is not necessarily accurate. Thus, Justice Thomas represents a paradigm shift in cultural politics. His confirmation represents change in racial expectations.

Where are the upshots in a new political landscape? Justice Thomas’ successful confirmation will further advance political maturation and sophistication and an intellectual debate in the black community. It will cause a rapid increase in socio-political transformation. For instance, what John McWhorther, author of “Losing the Race,” calls alleviating “victimology.” He believes that too often, African Americans are taught to engage society through a victim’s lens: “This to often is not with a view toward forging solutions, but to foster and nurture an unfocused brand of resentment and sense of alienation from the mainstream. This is Victimology.” President George W. Bush can extend his legacy by appointing justices that emulate his view of the rule of law and philosophically, Justice Thomas does.

There is another philosophical reason, however. By appointing Justice Thomas, Mr. Bush may extend Western civilization. Unless minorities invest in the future of the country, it may decline. African Americans are in the best position to save traditional values in this country. As Shelby Steele states, many are waiting for the fulfillment of dreams deferred. In a generation, African Americans may begin to believe in the total American dream by further understanding its principles of supporting a market economy, delaying self-gratification and using the power of education and ideas.

Of course many already responsibly do, but so many more will, should persons like Justice Thomas be afforded an opportunity to serve in the highest positions in the land.

The Rev. Joseph Evans is senior pastor at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Washingon.

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