THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

Obama and Black Conservatism …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on June 17, 2008

On some levels, reported Black conservative support of Sen. Obama is not so surprising while on other levels it is. First: it is important here that we make a distinction between a “Black conservative” and a “Black Republican” – the two are not synonymous. Just because one is a Black conservative, or even a Black liberal, doesn’t necessarily make them a Black Republican or, respectively, a Black Democrat. And, what you’ll find here is that many Black intellectuals with known conservative perspectives – from Booker T. Washington to George Schuyler to, arguably, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X on down – have embraced and pushed a Black empowerment model that relies on the success of African American political and economic gain.

Hence, this is not so surprising to hear many Black conservatives voicing support for Sen. Obama. His ascendancy fits into that conversation and model, an African American rising to the top of the political world through his own agency, by his own “boot straps,” through pure self-sufficiency. His story fits the conservative mold. Additionally, Sen. Obama is making a strong bid for conservative and religious votes, evident in his use of spiritual themes in many of his speeches and outreach. See this rather telling piece on brewing conservative support for Obama in Politico.  There are many conservatives who, for the first time in a long time, actually feel comfortable with a Democratic nominee. 

Still, Black conservative Republican support is an interesting phenomena. Mainly because many very public Black conservatives have always pushed the “content of your character” paradigm as a substitute to Black power or Black socio-political and economic gain based on “color.” The rhetoric has been, at times, highly provocative and polarizing. Support for Obama suggests an about face on the subject.

It also suggests trouble for John McCain. It is rather unusual when prominent Black Republican conservative activists go against the party line, and if they feel safe enough to do so in this instance, it means that there is much grumbling within the conservative base about the GOP presumptive nominee.

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