PODCAST: Conservatives and Racism, PART 1

Conservatives & Racism, PART 1

Conservative values are deeply rooted in African-American communities. Economic prosperity, education, legal immigration, free speech, religious freedom, personal responsibility and traditional marriage are prime examples. So, why aren’t more blacks affiliated with the conservative movement or voting Republican? I consider the reasons are two-fold:

Reason #1: Racist Perception

In the African-American community, the word “conservative” is culturally ingrained to mean racist. The mere utterance of the word is met by ridicule and it slams the door before there is any chance for successful diversity engagement.

In fact, the Left has demonized the word “conservative” so well that now they are using the word to attack their own. In a February 4, 2019 Politico Magazine interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Chief of Staff, Saikat Chakrabarti entitled, ‘ There’s Going to Be a War in the Party. We’re Going to Lean Into It’ , Chakrabarti described Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, John Lewis and the entire Democrat leadership as “Conservative Democrats”. Does anyone actually believe Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and John Lewis are Conservatives? Of course not! They understand and frequently invoke the word because it automatically stirs up hostility and hatred—weakening their political opposition—giving them complete control of the narrative.

For example: If you identify yourself as Black Conservative, Christian Conservative, or a Reagan Conservative, you might as well replace the word “conservative” with the word “racist” because that’s what people are hearing—Black Racist, Christian Racist and Reagan Racist. It’s not what you say that matters the most. It’s what people hear you say.

Remember the Democratic Party used the word “conservative” too. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was “Conservative Democrats” who did everything possible to block civil rights legislation. They wanted to hold on to the doctrine of their “racist fathers”, who conceived the Jim Crow Laws and the Black Codes. Republicans also used the term “conservative”. Unlike Democrats, many freedom activists use the word “conservative” to preserve the values of the “Founding Fathers” who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence—same word, but two entirely different meanings.

Through negative propaganda, the Left has demonized the word “conservative” and destroyed the brand. I get all of that. However, one thing I have always wondered, from a historical perspective is why do the words “conservative” and “Republican Party” have a racist connotation, especially in the Black American community.

Senator Barry Goldwater

Senator Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign and the Black Electorate: Senator Goldwater’s presidential campaign, in 1964, marked a seismic shift in the voting pattern of Black Americans. Senator Barry Goldwater from Arizona, received just 6% of the Black vote, which gave the Democratic Party a landslide victory. Since 1964, the percentage of Blacks voting for a Republican presidential nominee has never risen above 15%.

Here’s where things start to get interesting. On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Racist, pro-segregationist Democratic senators filibustered the bill and voted against it. Republican Senator Barry Goldwater also opposed the civil rights legislation, but he did so based on Constitutional grounds. Yale University Professor Robert Bork wrote a 75-page opinion on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which Senator Goldwater used to form his decision. Goldwater’s opposition to the legislation was based on: (1) Title 2-Public Accommodations and (2) Title 7-Employment.

Follow me as I connect a couple of dots: Do you remember Senator Goldwater’s nickname? He was referred to as “Mr. Conservative”. What was the title of the book Senator Goldwater wrote in 1960? It was entitled, The Conscience of a Conservative.

To add insult to injury, at the 1964 Republican Party National Convention, held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, whom did the Republican Party nominate as their presidential candidate to run against the Democratic nominee, President Johnson? It was “Mr. Conservative”, Senator Barry Goldwater.

The party of Lincoln and the party of Emancipation chose, as their presidential candidate, an individual who sided with the racist Democrats in opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. When this occurred, African-Americans left the Republican Party en masse to join the Democratic Party. Many of my staunch Republican family members became Democrats in 1964. I remember, as a young boy, hearing the word “conservative”, racist and Barry Goldwater being used in the same sentence.

In 1964, the Goldwater campaign and the GOP made the Democratic Party appear to be heroes to Black Americans.

Senator Goldwater Wasn’t a Racist: With his “no vote” Senator Goldwater sided with the racist Democrats. Actually, throughout his life, Senator Goldwater demonstrated that he was an integrationist who was a champion of African-Americans. For example:

  • At the age of 37, Barry Goldwater inherited his family’s retail store and hired black cashiers and clerks before it became common place.
  • Senator Goldwater was an early member of the Phoenix chapter of the NAACP and the Urban League and reached into his own pocket to make up the Urban League’s operating deficit when it first got started.
  • Barry Goldwater founded the Arizona Air National Guard in 1946 as a desegregated unit. This was two years before President Truman desegregated the armed forces.
  • Senator Goldwater desegregated the Senate cafeteria in early 1953, demanding that his black legislative assistant be served along with every other Senate employees, after learning she had been denied service.
  • Goldwater voted for the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Act.
  • In 1991, Goldwater received the “Humanitarian Award for 50 years of loyal service to the Phoenix Urban League.”

Dr. King’s Press Release on the GOP’s Nomination of Barry Goldwater

MLK’s Press Release

On July 16, 1964, Senator Goldwater accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. On the very same day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, issued a press release regarding Senator Goldwater’s nomination. Take this into account, Dr. King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech just 11 months earlier, on August 28, 1963.

So, at the time of this news release, Dr. King had acquired a household name. Because of Senator Goldwater’s opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, with a deep sense of urgency, Dr. King urged all Americans to vote against Mr. Goldwater. As a result, Lyndon B. Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in a landslide victory.

I’m not suggesting you should stop using the word “conservative” entirely. When you use it, make sure you consider your audience. If you choose to use the term “conservative” as part of your outreach strategy, your earnest attempt at diversity engagement will not be an effective or pleasant experience.

The word “conservative” has such a racist tinge, it is likely to generate swift opposition from Blacks, and now you know why.


KCarl Smith
KCarl Smith

The foremost expert on diversity outreach, the Trump Campaign recently selected KCarl to serve as an Advisory Board Member, Black Voices for Trump. A bestselling author and highly sought-after speaker, KCarl is the creator of the Frederick Douglass Republican Engagement Strategy, a powerful and proven persuasive messaging approach—developed through years of real-world successes. For more than 11 years, KCarl has empowered thousands of Conservatives with his proprietary, game-changing diversity outreach best practice. KCarl is the author of, Frederick Douglass Republicans: The Movement to Re-Ignite American’s Passion for Liberty. In 2011, an upper level executive of the NAACP, who wishes to remain anonymous, read KCarl’s book and commented, “If the message in KCarl’s book gets national attention, the Democratic Party will be a thing of the past.”

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