"Most conservatives like to think that they have principles that are color-blind: the eternal verities and such. I think this is a kind of self-flattery that excuses historical ignorance on our part. Enslavement stripped Africans of their ethnicities, their languages, and their religion. That means more than any one other group in this country African-Americans are a people created by the history of our nation and its politics: commerce, slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, the civil rights movement. It is a naïveté bordering on psychosis to suggest that black politics should conform to some imagined color-blind set of principles. Just junk that and start reaching out into the black community. I sense a real hunger on their part for political competition for their vote and support.
There is an absolutely electrifying intellectual tradition of black self-sufficiency and independence that is a good fit within a big-tent conservatism. And it is larger than Booker T. Washington. Zora Neal Hurston endorsed Robert Taft in the 1950s. Malcolm X was in many ways both more radical than King and more conservative too. This tradition is not at all color-blind, but it is localist, communitarian, religious (Muslim and Christian), and entrepreneurial. I also think conservatives should start political discussions on our drug war, on prison reform, and on policing that can and should help us re-connect with African Americans."
Michael Brendan Dougherty is senior correspondent at TheWeek.com. He is the founder and editor of The Slurve, a newsletter about baseball.