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SOWELL: GOP outreach to blacks is long overdue
School choice is an issue on which blacks agree with Republicans
Question of the Day
Recently, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added her voice to those who have long been urging the Republican Party to reach out to black voters. Not only is that long overdue, what is also long overdue is putting some time — and, above all, some serious thought — into how to go about doing it.
Too many Republicans seem to think that the way to “reach out” is to offer blacks and other minorities what the Democrats are offering them. Some have even suggested that the channels to use are organizations like the NAACP and black “leaders” like Jesse Jackson — that is, people tied irrevocably to the Democrats.
Yet there are issues in which Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats — if they will use that advantage. An advantage that you don’t use, though, might as well not exist.
The issue on which Democrats are most vulnerable, and have the least room to maneuver, is school choice. Democrats are heavily in hock to the teachers’ unions, who see public schools as places to guarantee jobs for teachers, regardless of what that means for the education of students.
There are some charter schools and private schools that have low-income minority youngsters equaling or exceeding national norms, despite the many ghetto public schools where most students are nowhere close to meeting those norms. Because teachers’ unions oppose charter schools, most Democrats oppose them, including black Democrats up to and including President Obama.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent cutback on funding for charter schools and his creation of other obstacles for them showed a calloused disregard for black youngsters, for whom a decent education is their one shot at a better life.
Did you hear any Republican say anything about it?
Minimum-wage laws are another government-created disaster for minority young people.
Many people today would be surprised to learn that there were once years when the unemployment rate for black 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds was under 10 percent. Their unemployment rates have not been under 20 percent in more than a half-century. In some years, their unemployment rate has been over 40 percent.
Why such great differences between earlier and recent times? In the late 1940s, inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage set in 1938. Without that encumbrance, black teenagers found it a lot easier to get jobs than after the series of minimum-wage escalations that began in the 1950s.
Young people need job experience, at least as much as they need a paycheck. No neighborhood needs hordes of idle young men hanging around, getting into mischief, if not into crime.
Republicans have failed to explain why the minimum-wage laws that Democrats support are counterproductive for blacks. Worse yet, during the 2012 election campaign, Mitt Romney advocated indexing the minimum wage for inflation, which would not only guarantee its bad effects, but would put an end to discussing those bad effects.
Are issues like these going to switch the black vote as a whole over into the Republican column at the next election? Of course not. Nor will embracing the Democrats‘ racial agenda.
However, if Republicans can reduce the 90 percent of the black vote that goes to Democrats to 80 percent, that can be enough to swing a couple of close congressional elections — as a start.
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