Conservatism as a political philosophy has been and remains one of the principle foundations of this nation.
It is best defined as a political philosophy that is committed to the preservation of the political and social status.
American conservatism was born out of one of the most peculiar ironies of history. The men whom we call the Founding Fathers, who declared their independence and wrote the Constitution, were the sons of an oppressed group who left England in search of religious and political freedom, as well as economic opportunity.
After almost 200 years of residence in this country as settler colonists who initiated one of the greatest genocidal wars in history, against the indigenous peoples here, and them enslaved Africans –– most of them saw no contradiction in the fact that they (the rejected and the oppressed) had come from an oppressive society to become some of the most oppressive people on the planet!
This, then, is the reality of contradictions that are built upon more contradictions that African Americans have experienced in the time that we have been in this country.
It is within the confines of this particularity that we examine the role of the so-called “Black conservatives” in this bundle of contradictions and manifest White supremacy.
The role of conservatives in American politics, especially in this election campaign for president, has been front and center.
At the outset of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and the worsening of the economic meltdown that he inherited from President Bush, the Tea Party –– which is the most vocal part of the right wing conservative movement –– began a national campaign of distortions and disruption, with the goal of blocking President Obama’s attempts at passage of any legislation and making him a one-term president.
The Tea Party was able to contribute to the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and the narrowing of the Democratic majority in the Senate in the 2010 congressional elections.
This overall federal legislative constriction and the continued right wing propaganda has haunted Obama and driven him to embrace one of the political coping strategies of Bill Clinton called triangulation.
This strategy forces the president to adopt some of the policies outlined by the right wing, i.e., Bill Clinton’s adoption of welfare reform as dictated by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in the 1990s.
Thus, the concessions made by Obama at the beginning of his presidency on the issue of the economic recovery to the Wall Street bankers, his concessions in his health care reform, and his subsequent compromises in the budget fight, have given added momentum to the conservatives.
Sensing Obama’s tendency towards compromise with the conservatives, the right wing has stepped up the attacks in an effort to further alienate him from his progressive base. They smell blood in the water like sharks, and are in the hunt for the political destruction of Obama’s re-election by any means necessary!
Clearly, one of the most important and deeper reasons for this ugly and hateful opposition is the fact that Obama is an African American.
While that reality is rarely expressed openly, it is without a doubt one of the underlying factors in this movement’s public pronouncements.
One has only to read between the lines of their accusations that he is a Muslim, that he was not born in the United States, or that he is an avowed anti-White racist.
Thus, it is no surprise that this right wing movement has resurrected some of the Black conservative attack troops and leftovers from the Bush administration, and recruited some young new faces who are relishing their roles as attack troops while being well paid for their efforts.
Most of these characters cling to the mantle of the Republican Party; there are a few that call themselves Democrats who are not as vocal and strident as their Republican counterparts, but nevertheless espouse the same policies.
These are the African Americans who have bought into the myth of post-racialism, a deracializedapproach to campaigning by Black candidates, which places the desires of the Wall Street moguls over the needs of the masses of Black and poor people in this country, the privatization of public education, and the savage attacks on President Obama.
Do the actions of Black conservatives arise out of a deep-seated sense of self-hate rather than reasoned analysis and close examination of the policies and the people that are employing them?
One has to wonder if these actions arise out of a deep-seated sense of self-hate rather than reasoned analysis and a close examination of the policies and the people that are employing them.
It must be noted that these Black conservatives are not policy makers; they are merely spokespersons who lend lip service and talking heads to this desperate cause!
Upon reflection on this subject, I am reminded of a conversation that I had with the late Ebony and Jet publisher John H. Johnson in a conversation about conservatives and conservatism.
He said to me, “One has to have something to conserve in order to be a real conservative!”
After surveying the conditions of the masses of Black people in this country and tallying up the toll of racism, poverty, and incarceration, the only things that I can see that these spokesmen have to conserve is their tenuous status and the meager pittances that they receive for their services.
The following men and women are the major architects of the Black Conservative Movement. They provide the philosophical foundation and justifications for this movement.
Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice The leading Black conservative in the country. He is the most powerful of all of the Black conservatives because he sits on the highest court in the land and is able to make lasting judgments crucial to the welfare of Black Americans.
He is aligned with Justice Scalia, who has been described as the most conservative justice on the court. He has shown hostility towards affirmative action. Black conservative political philosopher Thomas Sowell and the patron saint of the conservative movement Ayn Rand, the author of the novel The Fountainhead, are two of his philosophical mentors.
Ward A. Connerly, founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute
Perhaps the most outspoken political activist fighting against affirmative action in the country. He was one of the major sponsors of California’s Proposition 209 that attempted to eliminate all race and gender preferences in state hiring.
Since his appointment to the University of California Board of Regents, he has done everything in his power to wipe out any vestiges of affirmative action at the state, local and federal levels. He is proud of having joined in supporting every legal and legislative effort to abolish racial preferences.
Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State
She is the leading defender of George Bush foreign policy and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has also stated that racial segregation would have probably died out in the south on its own momentum without the civil rights movement.
Walter Williams, economist, George Mason University
The most influential Black conservative economist in the country. He has preached the gospel of less government, free market capitalism, and fewer welfare programs.
Stephen L. Carter, Law Professor, and Harvard University
Has consistently argued against the continuing need for affirmative action in his newspaper columns, his novels, and his academic writings.
John McWhorter, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute
Takes pride in assailing those who support affirmative action without reservations in his book Losing the Race. Argues for the exclusion of racial preferences in hiring and school admissions that might have been necessary 30 or 40 years ago, but are no longer needed.
Shelby Steele, Hoover Institute Fellow
Has written almost exclusively about the dangers of a continuing emphasis on affirmative action and racial preferences.
Lee Walker, President of the New Coalition for Economic and Social Change and a Heartland Institute Fellow
Writes and preaches the need for Black independence in the tradition of Booker T. Washington, and less reliance on government for community development.
Other political Black conservatives include: Congressmen Tim Scott, Republican, South Carolina; J.C. Watts, Republican, Oklahoma; Allen West, Republican (Tea Party), Florida; and Harold Ford Jr., Democrat Leadership Council, Tennessee and NBC commentator.
Conservative media talk show hosts include: Charles Butler, formerly at WVON Radio in Chicago; Lenny McAllister, formerly at WVON Radio in Chicago and now a CNN commentator; Armstrong Williams, TV and radio host and author; and Michelle Bernard, TV and radio host and NBC commentator.
The most prominent Black Conservative think tank is Project 21, which is based in Washington, D.C. and is affiliated with the National Center for Public Policy Research.
These are just a few of the men and women who serve as spokespersons for the Black conservative movement in this country.
They are paid well for their services and are given prominent time and space to exhibit their support and attempt to convince America that they constitute a coalition of reasonable people with rational positions.
In Part II of this examination, I will explore the meaning of the Black Conservative Movement in America and the role that they will play in the presidential re-election campaign.