An introduction: George Chidi is on the bench

Another joins the fray.

Normally, I wouldn’t roll out of bed for less than a buck a word, but I care deeply about the state of political dialogue and I’ve found Peach Pundit to be a place for reasoned discourse, even among people with whom I often disagree. That’s a rare commodity these days. So, I hope to contribute political intelligence which would otherwise go undiscovered and unpublished, as well as a fresh perspective offering a reasonable counterpoint to prevailing views – as opposed to the cartoon-character straw men many on the right imagine those on the left to be.

Also, Charlie said he’d go clubbing with me.

I’ve been writing for pay since I was 18, after dropping out of the microbiology program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I enlisted in the Army as a military journalist 20 years ago, for which the only qualifications were two years of high school English, 20 words per minute on a typewriter and not being colorblind. I served five years on active duty, mostly with the 25th Infantry Division, without once being intentionally shot at. I have no business regretting that.

After returning to UMass to finish a journalism degree, I worked as a wire service reporter for the IDG publications covering the dot-com bust and as a politics reporter for the Rocky Mount Telegram in rural North Carolina before landing as a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I covered growth and development, business, crime and municipal government in Gwinnett County for about three years before sobering up.

After covering one too many ax murders and gang shootings, I left the paper when Georgia Tech offered a full ride through its MBA program. I said to myself that a career in finance or real estate might be just as interesting and certainly more stable than news reporting.

I started school in the fall of 2008. Who knew.

I’ve also been a security guard, a long-term substitute teacher, a technology flack, various flavors of corporate peon, an associate investment banking equity analyst, an Occupy Atlanta activist, an ex-Occupy Atlanta activist and an elected official for the city of Pine Lake, which is manifestly not a speed trap. Any more. For real.

By day, I am the managing director of Neon Flag, a competitive intelligence consultancy, which is more or less exactly what you think it is. By night, I’m trying to figure out how to keep apparent corruption among Democrats from snatching defeat away from the hands of demographic victory in Georgia. I contribute from time to time to Creative Loafing and write irregularly about personal finance for Dimespring.com. I’ll be writing here about governance in Democratic communities and the leadership challenges of progressive politics in Georgia, along with a note now and then about economic competition, innovation and the state of the local club scene.

Next time, with Charlie.

64 comments

  1. sockpuppet says:

    “By night, I’m trying to figure out how to keep apparent corruption among Democrats from snatching defeat away from the hands of demographic victory in Georgia.”

    Seeing stuff like that burns my bacon. What is so wrong with white people to the extent that Democrats can’t go out and win their votes? And this is Georgia we are talking about, which white Democrats ruled with an iron fist until barely 15 years ago. There are PLENTY of opportunities for Democrats to reach white voters. Especially those who live outside the suburban Atlanta area, for whom the Georgia Republican Party offers pretty much nothing to white voters. Democrats like Zell Miller stayed in power by racking up huge advantages among whites in middle, south, rural etc. Georgia to counteract the strength of the GOP in the Atlanta suburbs. That worked before and it can work again. The DPOG just has to start back caring more about what white voters in Valdosta and Americus think than what the oped columnists for the New York Times and the Guardian of London think.

    This state of affairs where the Republicans basically write off black voters and the Democrats repel a great many white ones has to end. It really is bad for the state and is a major reason why so little of consequence gets done like in times past when we were able to make major progress in areas like economic development, transportation and fighting crime.

    • “Especially those who live outside the suburban Atlanta area, for whom the Georgia Republican Party offers pretty much nothing to white voters.”

      Except those same things it offers to all voters, regardless of race – fiscally responsible and limited government with lower taxes and lower spending. That means more dollars in their pockets. Kinda reminds me of that Capital One more cash commercial. Who doesn’t like more money? (Of course, this doesn’t mean that all elected Republicans believe in the stated Republican principles. They’ve helped grow government spending and taxes too.)

      • sockpuppet says:

        @David Staples:

        “Except those same things it offers to all voters, regardless of race – fiscally responsible and limited government with lower taxes and lower spending. That means more dollars in their pocket.”

        Oh please. Have you been to Georgia outside the Atlanta area recently? The agriculture industry, their #1 employer, had their jobs wiped out by automation and foreign competition decades ago. Manufacturing, their #2 employer – a lot of which was centered around the declining agriculture sector by the way – has taken huge hits for the same reason. Those are jobs that aren’t coming back, and for that reason the non-Atlanta area Georgia has been facing not only recession but possibly depression type economies on a continuous basis even when the metro Atlanta and national economies are doing great. The Reagan economic boom? That was when the family farms started to collapse and the factories began to close. The Clinton economic boom? Totally passed “the other Georgia” by. The Bush economic explosion? Honestly the economy was better in south Georgia under Carter. The Obama recession? Things were no worse in that part of the state than they had been previously: other than there being less tax revenue to redistribute from the Atlanta area down there, you can’t tell the difference.

        Conservative economic policy has failed the other Georgia. Unfortunately, Democrats are too busy with their social welfare, social issue, identity and urban agenda politics to tell them that.

        • Indeed, I have been outside of Atlanta. In fact, I own a horse farm in SW Cobb. I’m friends with a number of people in the agricultural world from a variety of parts of the state. Agriculture and manufacturing doesn’t just affect a certain race. All races are affected by the change in times. I’m sorry if you’re upset that people like me that work in technology have helped spur innovation that has increased large scale production and lowered costs and liabilities. Would you rather have everyone still out in the field tilling, fertilizing, and picking everything by hand?

          Who should take responsibility for the younger / next generation keeping up with the changes in technology? Whose responsibility is it to make them seek out scholarships, like the HOPE, so they can enter fields other than manufacturing and agriculture? Are you implying certain races don’t have access to college because of the color of their skin or where they grew up? Your argument that ‘times are a changin’ needs a bit more refinement. Maybe you can get some help with your logic from some cityfolk somewhere? 😉

        • Baker says:

          I disagree with sock on the policy solutions but personally am really disappointed in the direction both parties have gone.

          I couldn’t agree with this more: “Democrats are too busy with their social welfare, social issue, identity and urban agenda politics”

          When Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco fame is the leader of the party, and pre-2008 Obama she certainly was, that’s a problem for the country. Centrist democrats are barely acknowledged, much less encouraged.

      • sockpuppet says:

        Don’t play coy, Noway. Everyone knows that when Democrats play the “demography” card, they mean how an increasing number of blacks, Hispanics and Asians and a declining number of whites portends a bright future for the Democratic Party. It has been since John Judis and Ruy Texeira published their book in the early 90s, OK?

    • gchidi says:

      Well. That didn’t take long.

      I happen to agree with you: I think people should vote their economic interests, and I think the Democratic Party tends to serve those interests better for more people — black and white — than Republicans.

      I’m also quite concerned with how much race has become a proxy for political belief, on both sides of the aisle. As much as I want Democrats to win, a racially-polarized electorate is nigh-ungovernable. It’s trite, but true — we all have to learn how to work and play well with others.

      Democrats do have to make the case to rural white voters. I think they are trying, although not hard enough. I would argue that the reverse should also be true — Republicans efforts at outreach to the black and Latino community are comically bad most of the time. The key here, on both sides, is understanding that this isn’t an “optics” problem. It’s a policy problem. No one cares about the messenger, and even the message isn’t all that important. Results matter.

      • Baker says:

        And here we go: I couldn’t disagree more that it’s not an optics problem. It’s completely an optics problem. A black audience immediately tunes out to whatever Mitt Romney is saying at the NAACP. They know he’s a white Republican and they immediate know not to listen because whatever he says is a lie or bull or whatever etc etc.

        And then when it’s not an optics problem, a la Michael Steele or whomever, said optic-friendly Republican is so tarred by the Left media and Left leadership as some kind of Uncle Tom or whatever, a black audience knows not to listen because whatever he says is a lie or bull or whatever etc etc.

        • gchidi says:

          In neither the Romney case nor the Steele case are the actual policies presented any different. Both men were advocating for a weakening of the social safety net in a time of profound financial uncertainty for poor people, many of whom are black. It’s one of the great myths of the right, that black people voted for Obama simply because he was black. Certainly, some did — I figure that number is between 5 and 10 percent of the black voting population. Most voted for him because he’s a Democrat and most black people are Democrats.

          And most black people vote for Democrats for understandable-enough reasons. Some are poor and live in cities and the Democratic platform serves their economic interests. Some have a long tradition of civil rights advocacy in their family history and refuse to be aligned with a party that doesn’t explicitly and consistently reject white racism. Some are Democrats for exactly the same reasons many white people are Democrats: union membership, environmental issues, or they identify with women’s issues, or are gay, or in a religious out-group on the opposite side of Republican policy. Roughly 13 percent of African Americans are immigrants or the children of immigrants — like me — and have almost exactly the same reaction to anti-immigration nonsense that the Latino community has.

          Meanwhile, whenever Steele would fail to toe the party line — and, given his role as chairman, that should have been fairly rare in any case — he was immediately excoriated by the Republican base. Steele supported affirmative action for example, and was lambasted by his peers for it. The fact that Steele wasn’t a “strong conservative” directly contributed to the rise of the Tea Party.

          • Baker says:

            “Most voted for him because he’s a Democrat and most black people are Democrats.” I don’t disagree with that at all. I have no doubt though that a significantly higher number than “5-10%” voted for him in the primary over Hillary based on race and oratory, certainly not policy.

            Using any campaign against Obama is a bad example, my example of Romney at the NAACP and then your answer back just becomes chicken or egg.

            Take Michael Steele when he ran for Senate in Maryland, might be a better example. He was elected Lt Governor just fine. When he dared to try and enter the national scene as a black Republican he was immediately trashed, pretty openly, as the aforementioned Uncle Tom/ water carrier for Bush what have you.

            It’s inevitable that this ends up as policy argument though I guess, it’s impossible to separate the two. My question would be with all the huge amounts of money that’s been poured into the great social safety net, where has it gotten the black family in America?

          • Baker says:

            You’re also completely right about Steele failing to toe the party line. I thought it was ridiculous when they ousted him as chairman.

            I wouldn’t say though that he gave rise to the Tea Party. Bush-era spending followed by Nancy Pelosi led to the Tea Party. Tea Partiers are no fans of HRH Reince Preibus either.

          • Andre says:

            I disagree with the paragraph, below:

            And most black people vote for Democrats for understandable-enough reasons. Some are poor and live in cities and the Democratic platform serves their economic interests. Some have a long tradition of civil rights advocacy in their family history and refuse to be aligned with a party that doesn’t explicitly and consistently reject white racism. Some are Democrats for exactly the same reasons many white people are Democrats: union membership, environmental issues, or they identify with women’s issues, or are gay, or in a religious out-group on the opposite side of Republican policy.”

            And now, I’ll tell you why.

            First, while some blacks are poor and some blacks live in cities, the Democrat platform does not serve their economic interests.

            In Georgia, there are twenty counties that are majority black. In these twenty, majority black counties, Barack Obama received not less than 50% of the vote. And in these same majority black counties, unemployment exceeded the state rate, national rate or both. I know this because I’ve been keeping the numbers for the last four years.

            Take Hancock County, for example. That county always votes Democrat. The black population there is 74%. And unemployment is 16.6%; nearly double the state and national rate. Now, what part of the Democrat platform serves the economic interests of Hancock County? The good, black folks of Hancock County have been left behind by the Democratic Party.

            You say, “Some [blacks] have a long tradition of civil rights advocacy in their family history and refuse to be aligned with a party that doesn’t explicitly and consistently reject white racism.”

            My mother turns 67 in November. Fifty years ago, on her seventeenth birthday, President Kennedy was assassinated. I tell you and everyone else reading this because I want to impress upon you the fact that my mom lived the entire civil rights movement.

            She remembers Richard Russell and Herman Talmadge and George Wallace and all those other Democrats who obstructed meaningful civil rights legislation from passing. To this day, her favorite Senator remains Everett Dirksen of Illinois, a Republican who helped break the Democrat filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

            There is a racist party in these United States, but it’s not the Republican Party.

            Many members of the GLBT community align themselves with the Democratic Party. They say they are tolerant and open-minded, unlike those stuffy Republicans. Yet these tolerant and open-minded people associating themselves with the Democratic Party had nothing but racial slurs and epithets for the black voters in California who overwhelmingly supported Prop 8. Google “gays attack blacks prop 8” to see well-document reports of this kind of bigotry from the oh-so-tolerant and open-minded GLBT community that supports the Democratic Party.

            It is my belief that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the black community. The Great Society programs pushed by Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson did more to decimate the black community than any white lynch mob could ever do. The social safety net you talk about punishes black folks for working and encourages government dependency.

            Consider this:

            A black family receiving rental assistance from the housing choice voucher program (section 8) cannot get a job making more money, because the government will say to them, “Since you’re making more money, you can afford to pay more rent.” The black family’s share of the rent will go up, leaving them right back where they started; struggling to make ends meet. That is counterproductive to the needs of the black community.

            Several years ago, Republicans began promoting an ownership society. An ownership society is one that promotes personal responsibility, economic liberty, and the owning of property. Near the end of both their lives, both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were both promoting the need of blacks to own their community. It’s not good enough just to want to sit at the same lunch counter with white folks. True freedom and true liberty occurs when blacks own the lunch counter.

            This is the ownership society promoted by Republicans and conservatives. And I think, quite frankly, it’s this message that will grow the Republican Party in the black community.

            • gchidi says:

              So, basically, you’re arguing that black people who are voting Democrat — and telling you exactly why they’re voting for Democrats — are wrong about why they’re voting for Democrats, wrong about what Democrats stand for, and apparently know neither their own views nor those of the parties in question well enough to make a reasonable judgment.

              Good to know. I’ll be watching you deliver that speech to the next town hall meeting in Lithonia with a bag of popcorn.

              Elements of your reply are nothing but an empty, circular argument — Democrats suffer because they vote Democratic, and they vote Democratic because they suffer. Some of it intentionally ignores what I’ve written. And some of it is so error filled as to border on offense.

              You’ve done an excellent job of asserting that the Republican party platform is better suited for blacks than the Democratic platform while plainly ignoring the most important political evidence on the ground: poor people don’t believe that at all.

              I’m going to be at this for a long time here, and we’ll go round and round about it on multiple threads, but let me start with this shot across the bow: show your work. If you can’t demonstrate clear cause and effect — not supposition, not innuendo, not empty talking-points and rhetoric, but argument for which evidence is readily obtainable — I will dismiss your replies for what they are worth.

              Hancock County is the poorest county in this state. It’s been in a 100-year-long decline in economic value and population. It was poor when conservative white southerners ran it, and it’s poor now. You appear to be deliberately conflating correlation with causation — the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

              You assert, without evidence, that Democratic policies aren’t serving this community. Not only do you not offer evidence to support that statement, you don’t even make the clear counter-argument that Republican policies would fare better. You don’t even say how they might fare better, by replacing policy X with policy Y. And nevermind quantifying anything.

              You are also ignoring the effect of the really virulent white supremacist racism of rural Georgia — the sort of thing that never landed in Atlanta — on historical voting patterns here. I said that some black voters were economically oriented, and some were in deep opposition to white racism. These do not always have to be the same people.

              Andre, you’re also making an argument which drives me crazy because it’s so unbelievably disingenuous, so mind-bogglingly dense and historically revisionist as to question your very honesty as a partner in reasoned discourse.

              Of course all the southern bigots blocking civil rights legislation in the ’60s were Democrats! Republicans were still considered Yankees from the Union who defeated the Confederates in the great War of Unprovoked Evil Northern Aggression. The parties weren’t as divided by racial issues then as they are now. Most of the ‘no’ votes came from senators in the south — there was only one senator of either party from a former Confederate state who supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Most of the ‘yes’ votes came from the north and the west. And then the southern racist conservatives abandoned the Democrats en masse and either became Dixiecrats or started voting Republican.

              Any fool who was half awake in history class knows this. To assert that the Democrats were racists misses the point: Democrats were lots of things in 1964. So were Republicans. Racism was bipartisan. But southern conservatives were deeply, deeply racist then, regardless of party affiliation. Those bigoted conservatives in the Democratic Party took off one party’s coats and over time put on the other party’s coats.

              Black voters know this. It’s not a mystery. To argue otherwise is comically, insultingly embarrassing. It presumes that black voters are profoundly stupid.

              Making this argument in any form is exactly the sort of “out of touch” thing that Republicans need to avoid if we are ever to start bridging the racial chasm in party politics.

              The rest of your post — particularly the bit about the penalty for achievement paid by the poor — is equally absurd and merits a proper response, but not right now. Suffice it to say that I find it endearing to hear conservatives argue for an ownership society with one breath and against the kind of expansion of access to capital embodied by anti-discrimination policies in home lending and equal access to the labor force embodied in the proper enforcement of EEO law with the next.

              This conversation is just beginning.

              • Andre says:

                You say, George, my arguments are absurd.

                The word “Absurd” is defined as, “utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false.”

                Which one of my arguments are absurd, George? Which ones are utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue?

                Do you deny that Malcolm X promoted an ownership society a year before he was murdered?

                Do you deny that Malcolm X stood before an audience at King Solomon Baptist Church, in Detroit, and said, “the economic philosophy of black nationalism shows our people the importance of setting up these little stores, and developing them and expanding them into larger operations. Woolworth didn’t start out big like they are today; they started out with a dime store, and expanded, and expanded, and expanded until today they are all over the country and all over the world and they getting some of everybody’s money.”

                In that same speech, Malcolm X went on to say, “This government has failed us.

                “The government itself has failed us. And the white liberals who have been posing as our friends have failed us. And once we see that all of these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy.”

                Is any of what Malcolm X spoke on 12 April 1964 absurd to you, George? What is utterly or obviously senseless and illogical about declaring that government has failed us?

                Government HAS failed us. That’s the basic tenet of the Republican platform; or as Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”

                It is more than a bit refreshing to find that two individuals from two completely different backgrounds came to the same conclusion about government. It has failed us. It has failed black people. It has failed white people too.

                The Right Honourable John Major, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1990 to 1997, delivered a speech to the 1991 Conservative Party conference in which he said, “We Conservatives have always passed our values from generation to generation. I believe that personal prosperity should follow the same course. I want to see wealth cascading down the generations. We do not see each generation starting out anew, with the past cut off and the future ignored.”

                This is the ownership society I’m advocating, and I believe Malcolm X was promoting the same thing; an economic philosophy that starts with our people setting up these little stores, and developing them and expanding them into larger operations, then passing those larger operations on to the next generation to grow even larger.

                Again, I say to you, George, the social safety net that you and so many other Democrats like to promote is not a safety net at all. It’s a spiderweb that keeps blacks trapped in its tangled strings.

                Many of these social programs punish black people for working.

                Economist C. Eugene “Gene” Steuerle, an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., recently gave testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform discussing this distressful reality.

                “Families can face prohibitively high penalties for additional work,” Steuerle said. “Families are eligible for a large amount of assistance at very low annual incomes but then lose that assistance very quickly as they move into moderate income ranges.

                “Accepting a higher paying job could mean a steep cut in child care assistance for a single worker with children, for instance. For some, the rapid phaseout of benefits can offset or even more than offset additional take-home pay,” Steuerle continued.

                In other words, the social safety net punishes people for working. There’s little incentive to save. There’s little incentive to work, because the government will punish the single black parent for accepting a better paying job or receiving a raise. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or an individual with an MBA to realize that sooner or later, the person on welfare will conclude they get more from being poor than being rich.

                This is not my opinion. This is well-documented research done by an economist at a policy think-tank established by the administration of Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson to study urban problems.

                The tangled government spider web or as you call it, the social safety net, is not serving the black community. Programs like SNAP, WIC, TANF and Section 8 punishes work and rewards futility. These programs do nothing to move blacks toward the ownership society promoted by both Malcolm X and John Major.

                It creates dependency. And dependency; dependency on the government to provide these programs; dependency on Democrats to protect these programs from those evil Republicans places blacks right back on the plantation, depending on “massa” for their livelihood.

                • Baker says:

                  Umm…(tugs at collar) Sorry George, didn’t mean to poke that deeply at an open wound in your first post.

                  But good first tosses by both of you and I look forward to seeing more of this discussion going forward.

                  • George Chidi says:

                    I appreciate it. Nothing here will be taken personally, unless someone goes out of their way to make it personal, of course. One of the things I rather admire about Peach Pundit is a tendency for people to engage in debate that is both passionate and civil.

                    But, believe it or not, I am legitimately concerned about how Republicans view cross-racial outreach. It’s not healthy in a multiracial democracy for any ethnic group to identify exclusively with a single party. To say nothing needs to be done is to ignore election results and demographic trends. But Republicans insist on saying and doing things with regard to black voters that are catastrophically ridiculous — like insisting that the ills of segregation have anything to do with modern Democrats and nothing to do with southern conservatism — then looking around and wondering why those voters feel insulted and disrespected.

                    I was talking about this with B.J. Van Gundy last week at the Peach Pundit gettogether. Governor Deal’s moves on the DeKalb School Board look spot on, even within the black community, and that’s because it appears that he actually listened to the concerns of people on the ground and took actions that indicated cared about the outcome. Empirical outcomes matter.

                    • John Konop says:

                      George and Baker,

                      One major factor is the social behavior laws that have killed the poor economically. We have drug laws, vandalism laws…….that treat teenagers and young adults like harden criminals……

                      The rich have way more options via the ecomonics, the poor get trapped in a life of crime and or low end jobs…….they cannot afford the court process via cost…..nor can they afford the loss of drivers license, criminal record…….

                      If both parties would stop being the social police we would see major gains in fighting poverty.

            • seenbetrdayz says:

              In our politically correct world, I can’t say anything like that because I’m white, but just know that I think you nailed it here, Andre.

  2. Stefan says:

    Secret plan to transition peach pundit is nearly complete!

    Oh, and as to sockpuppet above, many, many white voters are not available to Democratic candidates – regardless of policy or message. That’s related to race, but it isn’t purely a racial distinction.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      “Secret plan to transition peach pundit is nearly complete!”

      A front page poster who is a U. Mass alumni just tipped the scales, lol. It IS complete.

    • gchidi says:

      Pine Lake is swell. Perhaps even — dare I use the term — nifty. We’re hanging on like an old man in the back of a cadaver wagon in a Monty Python bit.

      How goes life in the Atlanta edition of the Bilderberg Group? (I would explain in detail what they do, but its all rather boring and I wouldn’t want to have to kill people here on my first day.)

  3. Trey A. says:

    Oh, and we still blame typos/mistakes/broken coffee machines/office conflicts/etc on you. Example: “Why is this late?” My response: “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask George.”

  4. analogkid says:

    Most controversial introduction post ever? Check.

    Even though you’re way to my left George, I’ve always enjoyed reading your comments. Welcome.

    #OccupyPP

  5. “Andre, you’re also making an argument which drives me crazy because it’s so unbelievably disingenuous, so mind-bogglingly dense and historically revisionist as to question your very honesty as a partner in reasoned discourse.”
    I’m excited to hear another fresh, informed voice. Not so excited about someone who is so easily insulted and embarrassed by alternative arguments. If you’re in this for the long haul, relax. That would be better for “the state of political dialog.”

  6. Seth Clark says:

    Great, fresh perspective for PP–especially your points on the need for the Democratic Party to reach beyond Atlanta and revisionist history, George. Welcome, and I look forward to many more posts.

  7. sockpuppet says:

    @Andre:

    Some government has failed blacks. Some government has helped. Some government has failed whites. Some government has helped. The key is to identify the helpful portions, identify the failures, keep the former and eliminate the latter. It really isn’t that hard. Unless you want it to be.

    By the way, Andre, most southern whites were fine with big government, were good New Deal Democrats, until the Democrats started extending government benefits to blacks via the civil rights legislation and the Great Society (an example of government programs that mostly hurt due to the poor design of the programs). You want to know who expanded government on a massive scale, for example? George Wallace, and the only time that he lost a race was when he took a moderate view on segregation. Whites LOVED the government jobs and benefits that Wallace gave them. It wasn’t until those benefits and jobs were also given to blacks that being a small government conservative became popular in the south or anywhere else for that matter outside the tiny circle of Rockefeller, Bush and Wall Street Republicans (who by the way were despised in the south for their support for integration … George Wallace used to rail against big business all the time).

    Ultimately, Andre, supporting the GOP solely because of the shortcomings of some Democratic policies and leaders doesn’t make a lot of sense. The Democrats may have failed some black people, but for all we know the Republicans might fail even more black people more severely.

    Also, let us be a little politically incorrect. Andre, Democratic policies are not why the black illegitimacy rate is 70%. Democratic policies are not why the black violent crime rate is so high. Democratic policies and leaders are not why black school performance lags. Those ultimately come down to A) individual blacks making bad choices and B) those individual blacks coming together to create a culture of dysfunction. And that is what Bill Cosby was talking about. Don’t kid yourself: Cosby is a lifelong Democrat and liberal activist who promoted liberal politics through his various TV shows, from Picture Pages to the Cosby Show and everything in between. Rather than blaming Democratic policies for the black community’s problems, Cosby rather truthfully pointed out that blacks were refusing to take advantage of the policies that Democrats enacted to help blacks by dropping out of school, having children out of wedlock and committing crimes. Cosby wasn’t talking about a small government message. He was stating that because of poor individual choices and a culture of dysfunction that blacks have no one but blacks to blame, blacks were unable to take advantage of the affirmative action, education, jobs, housing, civil rights and other liberal programs that Democrats like him worked so hard to create.

    I am sorry, Andre, but blaming the Democratic Party for what the black community does to itself is no better than blaming the GOP and white racism. It isn’t Roy Barnes’ fault, for example, that blacks chose to elect total cartoon characters to the school board in Clayton and DeKalb, or that the Atlanta school board had its cheating scandal, or that some of the worst decisions possible were made when picking leaders and policy for MARTA. If anything, it was the bad decisions of the black community in those and other situations that torpedoed the electoral prospects of white Democrats and prevented them from doing the things on education, transportation, infrastructure etc. that the Georgia GOP doesn’t seem to care much about.

    If you are going to have a real debate over whether the Democrats or the GOP is better for the black community, you are going to have to take into account what the black community does to itself instead of blaming the Democrats and running to the GOP as an excuse to keep from having that conversation. The biggest single issue in the black community today is the 70% illegitimacy rate, as that is the root cause of the problems in economics, education, crime etc. and we really can’t blame the Great Society or any other government policy for the actions of the black women and men (girls and boys) who choose to have kids out of wedlock and refuse to acknowledge that their behavior is harming their own futures and the community at large far more than any Democratic or Republican policy or leader ever could.

  8. Harry says:

    I was around in the day, and can tell you there were plenty of small government, Goldwater Republicans around who were not concerned whether government benefits went to blacks or whites, but just that they were counterproductive to good public policy and good long-term economic outlook.

    • sockpuppet says:

      @Harry:

      And how many people voted for Barry Goldwater again? Exactly. I never said that small government Republicans haven’t always existed. I only said that small government conservatism only became a winning political message when the government ceased being used to keep blacks down and help whites via Jim Crow and started being used to help both blacks AND whites in the civil rights era.

      The best proof of this: Strom Thurmond. He was a pork barrel fiscal liberal as a segregationist anti-lynching law opposing Democrat, a pork barrel fiscal liberal as a segregationist Dixiecrat, and a pork barrel fiscal liberal as an anti-civil rights Republican. And the good people of South Carolina consistently voted for him until the day he resigned from office. Honestly, of the southern Democrats who became Republicans, the only actual fiscal conservative was Phil Gramm. That shows you just how popular Barry Goldwater fiscal conservatism was in the south and midwest, which is not very. They were only fiscally conservative when it came to Great Society and urban housing and jobs programs that disproportionately benefited blacks, not New Deal, agriculture or other programs that disproportionately benefit whites.

      • Harry says:

        I’ll let Andre speak for himself, but I suspect the reason he’s GOP is because he realizes Democrats are on the wrong side of history.

        • sockpuppet says:

          I have no problem with blacks being in the GOP. I think that more blacks should join the GOP so the black community can be represented by both parties (which is the case for not only whites but also Jews, Hispanics and Asians … both the GOP and the Democrats support Israel and also increased visas for predominantly Asian foreign tech workers for example) and not be restricted to only liberal ideology and solutions (example: there are multiple ways to get black kids into good colleges, but only affirmative action is promoted because of ideological reasons).

          I only stated that blacks should not join the GOP because they choose to blame Democratic policies for the social and economic problems that blacks alone created. First off, if it is an attempt to separate yourself from the social problems associated with blacks, then A) it is indeed a way of selling out and B) it really doesn’t work. Second, what good does it do? If blacks were to switch from voting 95% for Democrats to 95% for Republicans and adopt GOP rhetoric and leaders, that wouldn’t reduce the illegitimacy, crime, low academic achievement and poor economic habits of the black community. Only changing the cultural mindset will achieve that. The only benefit is that blacks will no longer have leaders that blame these issues on institutional racism, segregation, poverty and the legacy of slavery. While no longer making excuses is good, it is far from being enough to change individual and group behavior, and that is precisely what conservative black leaders and groups like Robert Woodson, Roy Innis, Jesse Peterson, Alan Keyes, Project 21 etc. have discovered.

          Democratic policies didn’t cause the problems in the black community and Republican policies won’t solve them. The only way to address those problems is with the individual and collective actions of blacks, starting with blacks making a real and legitimate attempt to integrate, not so much to be around whites as to leave the negative cultural and economic environments behind.

          • Andre says:

            Admittedly, sockpuppet, a lot of the pains and perils of the black community is self-inflicted.

            If I may be so bold as to inject a little Star Wars philosophy into this discussion, the Sith Lord who trained Emperor Palpatine in the ways of the Dark Side said, “You must begin by gaining power over yourself; then another; then a group, an order, a world, a species, a group of species… finally, the galaxy itself.

            Creating the ownership society I’ve talked about in this thread begins by gaining power over yourself.

            The young black man who lets peer pressure tell him that being educated is akin to “acting white” has not gained power over himself. Rather, he’s become a slave to the master of peer pressure.

            In other words, the ownership society doesn’t just emphasize economic ownership; it also keenly focuses on personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is something sorely lacking in the black community these days. And we will never create the ownership society that John Major and Malcolm X both advocated without a wealth of it.

          • Harry says:

            Meanwhile if we just continue to live beyond our means a little bit longer and keep borrowing to pay benefits, everything will turn out okay.

  9. Harry says:

    “Democratic policies didn’t cause the problems in the black community”

    That’s where we have to agree to disagree. The Democratic Party has been holding back the black population from the beginning. I’m not saying their intentions in the last 40 years were bad – other than trying to buy votes which is what they do with all their supporters – but the effects of their welfare policies and make work policies has been counterproductive. In Atlanta, consider the example of Auburn Avenue and what is today Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Back in the day, these were thriving black entrepreneurial streets. Was everything great? Obviously not, but do you really think supporting tens of millions of people with welfare is anything other than a short term solution?

    • saltycracker says:

      Both parties have evolved into enablers promising their followers a bigger piece of the pie while reducing their participation in funding. The Republicans are on the demographic short stick and can only save themselves by using their time wisely as opposed to passing favorable bills and then constantly tweaking them.

      They can start with simplification of the tax system, but they won’t. Too many have figured out their personal end around.

  10. George Chidi says:

    A note about Auburn Avenue. It existed as the thriving center of black industry and commerce in King’s day precisely because black businesses and black consumers had been largely shut out of the market at large through segregation and discrimination. Black talent is no longer confined to serving the black community.

    So the best and brightest expanded out, or left. And white people didn’t exactly flock to Auburn Avenue to fill the gap. And the street’s commercial life died.

    There’s are many reasons why you see such a heavy concentration of interest in entertainment jobs in the black community: the capital costs are relatively low, the terms for success or failure aren’t especially subjective and relatively fair (either you can play, or you can’t; either your music sells, or it doesn’t) and there’s no meaningful reluctance — anymore — from the public at large to the product. It’s not hard for a black artist or a black football player to find a multiracial fan base.

    Now, you might disagree, but I would argue that’s not quite as true for accountants, or dentists, or engineeers, or operations managers. Or barbers. Or bankers. Or any of the other businesses associated with Auburn Avenue’s heyday.

    Yeah. Ending segregation and opening up the market through civil rights legislation did a number on Auburn Avenue. But compare the quantifiable measures of human success before and after — poverty rates, education rates, relative health outcomes, the size and strength of the black middle class, the number of African-American millionaires — and it’s hard to argue that Democratic policies haven’t helped.

    In 1960, the overall poverty rate was about 15 percent — which is about where it is today. Then, the black poverty rate was 50 percent. The black poverty rate is about half that today — still 10 points higher than society overall, but substantially less concentrated in the black community. The black college graduation rate in 1964 was less than half that of whites. Today it’s more like two-thirds. I find the persistence of gaps troubling, and that may be a measure of the limits of what policy can accomplish. But to say that policy achieves nothing, or that Democratic policies are part of the problem, is an argument that only flies if you can selectively ignore wide swaths of the evidence.

    • Harry says:

      The idea “from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs” is a seductive one, but if you are trying to imply that Democratic policies which sought to apply this socialistic or Marxist precept result in any permanent improvement, then I beg to differ. Many trillions of dollars have been directed at social engineering starting with Lyndon Johnson’s legislation, but what has really been accomplished? There have been some temporary marginal improvements, but at what cost? The reality is, most are no better off and in many cases are worse off than before big government entitlements. An unintended consequence of free government support is that now tens of millions of all ethnic groups are incapable of getting a job and supporting themselves without handouts while the remainder have seen their independent wealth diminished. Is this a good thing? I think it’s a sign of the end times of the American empire and enlightened civilization.

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