I know, I know. We at SBC Voices are political progressives who are secretly trying to turn the SBC into a culturally Marxist, Hillary-loving, Blue-state haven. In reality, every single one of us here is politically conservative and committed to what we believe are conservative principles. Some of us have split with the current GOP because of our conservative views, not because we have abandoned them.
The stances of the parties have shifted dramatically in the last 50 to 75 years. Southern Democrats were once the party of desegregation and the GOP was involved heavily in the agenda of civil rights. But in the last few decades, the GOP has gradually become more resistant to the civil rights agenda and has become the party of anti-immigration sentiments and closed borders. This is, at least, the common perception.
I realize that the task I am undertaking today is doomed from the start because I am a) raising a whole slew of politically controversial topics and b) trying to make a subtle point in a climate in which political debate tends to go nuclear.
I believe the GOP has made a significant political miscalculation in recent years that may cause conservatives to become a perennial political minority in years to come.
- We have alienated the bulk of the African American community – even those who hold orthodox Christian views. Obviously, there are political radicals who hold revolutionary positions we could never satisfy, but there are many Black Christians who believe God’s word but think that the GOP is out to get them.
- We have alienated the Hispanic community by our strident positions on the 12 million or so undocumented people who currently live in the US.
The arguments on these issues are complex and for most points, there is a counterpoint, and a counterpoint to the counterpoint. Then the argument starts. Again, I am not interested in reopening those cans of wiggly worms, though I likely can’t stop others from doing so. I have a specific thesis I would like to put forward, certainly nothing new to me.
Had we conservatives had a more open and accepting attitude toward Blacks, toward Hispanics, even toward Moslem refugees, we could have likely built a strong voting bloc in those communities, perhaps a majority.
We tend to see our side’s actions as flowing out of principle and the other’s as crass political calculations. More than once I’ve seen the Democrats’ position on open borders and “amnesty” attributed to a desire to build an unbreakable voting majority by getting citizenship rights for the 12 million or more illegals currently residing in the US. I have also heard conservatives express the fear that giving the vote to illegals would assure that the electoral map would turn blue for years to come. Of course, about 90% of Black voters supported the Democrats in the last presidential election.
But did it have to be this way?
- The Black religious community has strong conservative moorings – homosexuality and other such issues. There was much common ground to be had if conservatives had built some bridges on racial issues.
- Many of those illegals we speak so harshly about are conservative Catholics who work hard, pay taxes, go to church and have views on life that are far more conservative than liberal. Had we not given them the idea that the GOP was the party that wanted to round them up and ship them back they could possibly be seeing red instead of blue.
- The Moslem community is much trickier, but the average transplant from the Middle East is hardly a leftist progressive.
We should support racial reconciliation because it is right, because God created us all in his image, and because every human being has worth. We should seek compassionate solutions for the problem of the 12 million or more current illegal residents of the US because it is the right thing to do.
But the attitudes and actions of the Right on these issues – strident positions, intemperate and sometimes demeaning words, and too often a tolerance of those whose views skirt the borders of racism – has turned those who could have and should have been friends of true conservatism into enemies.
Someone told me recently that Martin Luther King, Jr. was registered as a Republican. Would that be so today?
I believe that words and actions created opponents who could have been friends. Yes, the Black church has some political views that seem strange to us in the White community, but they have much more in common with us than they do with the radical leftists in the Democratic party. The average Hispanic family today holds far more conservative values than it does liberal. But our intransigence has driven those who should be allies into the arms of our political foes.
It may be one of the great political miscalculations of our day.