On Making One's Case

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thomas Sowell makes the following observation about the longstanding inability of the Republican Party to win support from black voters:

... In California, a substantial black population has simply been forced by economics to vacate many communities near the coast and move farther inland, where the environmental zealots are not yet as strong politically, and where housing prices are therefore not yet as unaffordable.

With all the Republican politicians' laments about how overwhelmingly blacks vote for Democrats, I have yet to hear a Republican politician publicly point out the harm to blacks from such policies of the Democrats as severe housing restrictions, resulting from catering to environmental extremists.

If the Republicans did point out such things as building restrictions that make it hard for most blacks to afford housing, even in places where they once lived, they would have the Democrats at a complete disadvantage.


[N]one of this matters so long as Republicans who want the black vote think they have to devise earmarked benefits for blacks, instead of explaining how Republicans' general principles, applied to all Americans, can do more for blacks than the Democrats' welfare state approach.
Sowell concentrates on an acute problem the Republican Party faces in attracting enough votes to win elections, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why stop an outreach with just blacks, and why just show how harmful central planning is? There are votes to be had for any politician who would take an uncompromising stand for the benefits of freedom, rather than positioning himself as merely in favor of less government meddling in our lives.

Republican difficulties in attracting the black vote are not some historical peculiarity that the party can fix simply by showing how harmful a few Democratic policies are to a fraction of the population. Rather, their difficulties are a symptom of many factors, not the least of which is that the Republicans actually don't fully embrace or understand capitalism: If they did, they'd have, for example, vigorously opposed environmentalism (with its easily-foreseeable consequences) from Day One. Or they wouldn't have attempted to enact socialized medicine "lite" as Nixon tried to do, or offered plans similar to ObamaCare when they "fought" HillaryCare. And they would not now be talking about repealing ObamaCare only to replace it with another central planning scheme.

Sowell is completely right about the need for pro-caplitalist politicians to "make [a] case in the first place," but someone who inconsistently supports capitalism or fundamentally opposes it will be unable to make such a case convincingly, if at all. Unless the Republican Party becomes more consistently pro-freedom, it will continue ceding electoral and legislative ground to the left, and potential voters will understandably fail to support it.

-- CAV


Jason said...

Republicans' arguments against environmentalism is one of the most simple-minded, pathetic things I've witnessed in politics. The view they announce is: "Environmentalist policies shrink the number of jobs. If we just end the environmental regulations, there be lots of jobs." It's the age-old quantity over quality issue, or quantity obsession that ignores quality.

They pay no attention, at least no substantive one, to issues like safe work procedures and safe work environments, how neighboring industrial activity can impact each other (just respect property rights and don't worry about it is what they say; it's a non-issue with them), how to prepare for natural disasters, what to do with nuclear waste and how to approach nuclear energy (their attitude is "It's risky but we need to be energy independent"; again, no substantive acknowledgment of its complexity and danger), no discussion about maintaining safe water and reliable infrastructure, no looking at the impact of industry on man's environment and at least checking to see if there are real ozone or other climate concerns (it's not a simple, obvious issue), etc. Number of jobs overrides all these issues.

"Liberals" are basically just as bad, and I actually consider most of them to be passive-minded tradition-bound conservatives, but amongst the more active-minded ones, although they are incorrect to want government to control environmental and safety issues, at least they pay attention and offer up ideas. Intellectually, the few good liberals take the issue seriously, although they put the wrong entity (government) in charge, while conservatives don't seriously concern themselves with environmental and safety concerns at all.

Jason said...

One more thing. Anyone who wants to claim that self-described liberals are high-minded intellectuals basically different than conservatives--that they don't share the same basic mentality--need look no further than the Wisconsin protests to disprove that theory. They exhibited just as much simple-minded non-intellectual shouting and hysteria, and lack of very complex substantive arguments, as the Tea Party protesters.

Gus Van Horn said...

It's not clear to me what you're trying to say here, as you seem to be trying to address multiple issues at once in each paragraph. I'm just going to touch on two of your points here.

In one sense, the few Republicans who actually do bring up property rights when arguing against environmental regulations are right: The various ways an industry can violate our rights (e.g., by polluting rivers or the air around them) would already be illegal.

Regarding your second comment, I think you are being waaaay too hard on the Tea Party protesters. The Tea Party may be a somewhat blind rebellion, but many are (at least, and unlike the Wisconsin protesters) receptive to intellectual arguments, such as those made by Ayn Rand. They also have not, to my knowledge, engaged in illegal activities (or borderline insurrection) like the Wisconsin protesters, who occupied the state capitol building.