Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice

By Christopher Alan Bracey | Go to book overview

SIX
The Reformation of Black Conservatism

Black Neoconservatives, Their White Counterparts,
and How They Differ from Traditional Black Conservatives

By the close of the civil rights era, most blacks had abandoned conservatism as the dominant mode of political engagement. The majority of black voters now supported the Democratic Party and its liberal strategies for racial empowerment, which relied primarily upon federal intervention through civil rights enforcement and social welfare policy. Black support for mainstream conservatives continued to decline throughout the 1970s, despite Senator Brooke's reclamation efforts and attempts by the Nixon administration to moderate mainstream Republicanism with an uneasy embrace of affirmative action policy and formal recognition of organizations such as the NAACP and the National Urban League. Goldwater conservatism and the 1964 Republican “southern strategy” had deeply stigmatized mainstream conservatism in the eyes of many blacks, and the backlash was clear when Democrat Jimmy Carter received more than 90 percent of the black vote in the 1976 presidential election. As conservative journalist Tony Brown would sarcastically opine, for better or worse, most blacks had come to view the Democratic Party as the party of “less racism”:

The Democratic Party says this: “This white man is a Democrat;
therefore he's a liberal and all liberals like blacks. This white man

-113-

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