The Republican Party has been shamelessly embracing blacks on the sole criteria that they embrace capitalism and rehash stale talking points crediting dead Democrats for starting the Ku Klux Klan. Such overtures are acceptable to many, however, because the modern Republican Party rarely articulates a conservative message.
The party does excel at something, however, namely, as a conduit for black pundits to build large platforms. Essentially, blacks without meaningful conservative credentials are using Republicans to cultivate a following without increasing support for Republican politics or conservatism generally. But can we blame them when the only qualification required to be a conservative these days is to condemn the racist history of the Democratic Party?
After years of mainstream analyses, it is now firmly rooted in the mind of the Republican Party that it can only survive by becoming less conservative and pandering to minority groups. As a result, today’s Republicans proudly promote the big-tent model of conservatism, to their detriment.
Although there are varieties of conservatism, the big-tent approach is remarkably unconservative. Conservatism is a specific philosophy with necessary component positions. To be a conservative in the West, one must wish to preserve an intellectual tradition of unique relevance to Westerners.
As such, conservatives typically discuss the importance of Judeo-Christian ethics or highlight the Greco-Roman intellectual heritage of the West. Specifically, American conservatives want to preserve the timeless wisdom of the Founding Fathers and to maintain the integrity of institutions such as Congress and the Supreme Court, as stipulated by the Constitution. Yet they also embrace the disruptive nature of innovations wrought by the free market, putting themselves squarely in the tradition of classical liberalism in this regard.
While markets are not unique to Western civilization, it was the West that created the legal ingredients necessary for capitalism to flourish. Hence one can contend that advocating capitalism is consonant with the conservative quest to preserve the uniqueness of the West. This is why communists seeking to destroy capitalism are revolutionaries, while the classical liberal defenders of free markets are obviously conservative.
Yet true conservatism is rather skeptical of unbridled free markets, and instead aims to manage change. It also prefers an economy dominated by small firms, rather than big corporations. Admittedly, markets disturb traditional sentiments; however, Westerners pioneered the institutionalization of free markets. As such, conservatives espousing classical liberalism are celebrating a type of conservatism.
These market issues are often what token black Republicans use to assert a utilitarian case for supporting the Republican Party. These black Republican celebrities argue that blacks are primed to vote for Republicans because free markets are a medium to uplift their people. The typical line is that Democrats have failed to ameliorate the conditions of black Americans, and as such, blacks should depart the Democratic plantation in favor of the free market agenda of Republicans.
This argument is politically savvy—but it’s not conservative. Black conservatism is focused on the free-market aspects of Western conservatism but disconnected from its cultural mandate. When blacks say that they are conservative they are primarily referring to their avowal of capitalism, even though some do also still express traditional cultural views regarding marriage. These are sensible views, but Republicans should not confuse them for true conservatism.
Furthermore, though blacks are less tolerant of homosexuality than whites, this does not reflect philosophical conservatism. Such reports merely suggest that blacks are traditional. Except for people like Thomas Sowell, Elizabeth Wright, and Walter Williams, black conservatism is divorced from the wider philosophical underpinnings of Western conservatism.
The problem with relying on black celebrities to boost the popularity of the conservative movement is that there is no indication that they truly appreciate the intimate relationship between conservatism and the intellectual tradition of the West. Arguing that law enforcement is not replete with systemic racism does not inherently make one a conservative.
Presently, the Republican Party is just a copy of the Democratic Party, aside from its stance on a free market economy. During the apex of its delusion, CPAC invited the equally misguided Young Pharaoh as a speaker, notwithstanding that he lacks a conservative worldview. Some speculate that he was only invited for noting that Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan.
Denuded of any truly conservative philosophy, Republicans are hoping that appealing to blacks will result in electoral viability, but history shows this to be a losing strategy. When conservatism is diminished to a mere critique of the historical anti-black policies of the Democratic Party, real conservatives have no option but to exit the Republican Party.
The only winners in this sordid affair are the black celebrities, who assume that exposing the dangers of Black Lives Matter reflects a conservative worldview. The acceptance of such personalities as conservatives indicates the profound mediocrity of the contemporary conservative movement. Simply offering a cogent rebuttal of one corrupt social movement should not be construed as truly conservative. People like Candace Owens may excel at critiquing identity politics, but they add no value to the real conservative movement. Conservatives who believe otherwise have been duped by the Republican Party.
Lipton Matthews is a researcher, business analyst, and contributor to mises.org, The Federalist, The Imaginative Conservative, Merion West, and American Thinker.