Last month, Congressmen Allen West hosted a Black Conservative Forum in order to “discuss how to articulate and take the message of black conservatism back to our communities.”
He referenced conservative principles such as limited government, fiscal responsibility, sovereignty, equality of opportunity, achievement, the free market system, values, education, family and security.
“The conservative voice in the black community remains mostly unacknowledged by politicians and the public alike,” West said. “While the conservative black voice has always existed, it is more important than ever that it be recognized and encouraged.”
Among those on the multi ethnic, bi-partisan panel, were Congressman Tim Scott (R-S.Car.), Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (chairman, Congressional Black Caucus, D-Mo.), the Rev. Cleon Bryant (pastor, LA and Founder of “Runaway Slave”), KCarl Smith (Frederick Douglass Republicans), Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and numerous other national leaders. The panel was moderated by Star Parker, founder and president of C.U.R.E., the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and a nationally syndicated columnist.
Scott, speaking of the perception that all blacks are liberals, stated: “I have seen both sides. I successfully flunked out of high school in the ninth grade – with their (big government) help. Then my mother told me: ‘Boy, I brought you into this world, I can take you out.’”
Scott continued: “Simple formula: Play by the rules. We must realize that something for nothing is a chain around your wrist. We have to succeed because we have been given the right to succeed! That is our heritage as Americans.”
Star Parker raised the issue of getting school choice into urban communities. KCarl Smith responded: “Frederick Douglass went through the problem of school choice. They tried to force him to send his daughter to an inferior school. The parent should be able to choose. This is worse than slavery! Douglass said, in 1848, ‘Face it, fight it, fix it!’ He put pressure on until the least were elevated and the most vulnerable were valued.”
Parker added, “Money should follow the children. The voucher movement has vicious opposition from the left. The community says they want it – we have to fight the NAACP and the teacher’s unions to get it.”
The top three social issues in the black community are HIV/AIDS, abortion, and welfare dependency. It was noted how the black family has collapsed. Parker posed two questions: “Should the black pastors speak up in the community on these issues? Are they too indebted to the political community?”
Rev. Bryant said politics has corrupted many good men in the pulpit.
Fifty years ago, 70 percent of black children were raised by married parents. Today, per some studies, over 70 percent of black children are being raised by a single parent. Many people think that the breakdown of the black family is because of the expansion of the welfare state. The panel was asked if there is a connection between dependency and the breakdown of the black family.
“The institution that determines the strength of the nation is the family. The welfare type structure tells you that, if you have more kids, you will have more money,” said Congressman Jordan. “We must readjust that to focus on the right kind of results. Pro family politics helps everything in every area. The Republican Study committee tries to stay focused on the family.”
Later, West spoke of the need to “make sure that our communities stand up on the right type of principles. Godly principles. One of the critical five basic principles of conservatism is traditional cultural values, our faith, and that has to continue to be brought forth.”
West had some final advice to all: “First and foremost, pray and continue to be strong in yourself and in your character. My challenge to people is to find five folks that do not believe as you do, and get three of them to see as you do.”
West believes, as does this writer, that conservatism is a matter of lifestyle evangelism, not merely a political ideology. So much for myths!