Progressives' push of racial politics prompts a GOP pushback

Progressives' push of racial politics prompts a GOP pushback
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Republicans have begun to push back against “critical race theory.” It’s about time. 

Critical race theory is the centerpiece of one of the most cynical “progressive” political strategies ever seen in America, which will undercut the significant racial progress made over the past 50 years. Those experiencing the most serious losses from these destructive ideas will be American Blacks, Hispanics and women.

A litmus test for effective policies to redress racism and help our poorest, as well as middle-income, Black citizens is the “zero-sum game,” i.e., does the policy lift America up and make everyone stronger, or does it simply take wealth and power away from one group and give it to another group? (The zero-sum game is common in most socialist countries, which makes everyone worse off except for the progressive political elite.) 

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While a better understanding of America’s past provides a good platform for progress and expands awareness of systemic racism, policies that demean one group based upon race are a clear “zero-sum game” that do not move America forward nor lead to progress — they do little more than provide a short-term boost in political power (and often wealth) to a narrow group of progressive “leaders.”

Racism has left deep wounds in America. While tremendous progress has been made since the 1960s with policies to provide more equal opportunities for all races and to lift tens of millions of the poorest Americans — and especially poor Black Americans — out of poverty and to redress historical evil and unfairness, more could be done and more quickly. While systemic racism has been dramatically reduced over the past 70 years, there is still bias, sometimes subtle, that requires correction. Trillions of dollars have been spent in social justice programs with varying degrees of success and it is urgent to learn the true lessons of successes and failures. But the growing tendency to ignore real progress and to label any opponents “racist” for political advantage represents a new and virulent projection of racism in and of itself.

The leading practitioners of this New Racism are progressive white politicians and Black community leaders and celebrities, along with some educators and teachers’ unions, all of whom see branding opponents as racist as a route to secure greater political power and wealth.

The Biden tax policies are a good example. Humans respond to incentives and economics. When taxes on corporations and wealthier individuals are reduced, it encourages investment — especially in small business — and creates good-paying, private-sector jobs with a future for middle-class and poorer citizens. Before the onset of COVID-19, the Trump tax cuts led to the lowest unemployment in history for Blacks, Hispanics and women. Real incomes rose. That is real hope and change. But, when taxes on wealthier Americans and businesses rise, it reduces investment and encourages capital flight, leading to less job creation, lower incomes, often lower tax revenues, and reduced hope. 

Artificial public jobs creation works only for the short term and does not provide a route to a secure future for poor families — it is paternalistic and patronizing. The political choice is either for everyone to be much better off, rich and poor (economic growth); or for everyone to be worse off, rich and poor (“fairness”). The latter is the path advocated by the Biden administration and this Congress. It hurts the poor the most.

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Progressive immigration policy, which opens America’s borders to a flood of illegal immigrants and sometimes phony asylum seekers is an especially cynical version of New Racism. The flood brings in non-citizens who take away jobs from the poorest citizens — especially Black and Hispanic citizens — and diverts public welfare program funds away from poor Black neighborhoods and toward illegal immigrants.

“Defund the police” and anti-police policies make many middle-class and poor Black neighborhoods far more dangerous and unlivable. It is hard to imagine a more racist idea.

Probably the biggest and fastest growing civil rights violation and example of New Racism (especially during the COVID-19 school lockout) occurs in elementary and secondary public education. Cynical parents in wealthy neighborhoods love to announce their “commitment to public education.” Duh! Their public schools are free and look like exclusive, private prep academies. At the same time, Black parents in urban, poor neighborhoods know their schools are lousy and their children are falling behind — dramatically further behind during the pandemic. While teachers unions have leveraged the COVID-19 lockout to gain power and money, and to weaken charter schools — which the Stanford CREDO studies have found to be dramatically better for educating poor minority students, even during COVID-19 — Black children have been permanently handicapped.

H.R.1, the For the People Act, and other progressive voting initiatives that prevent states from checking voters’ IDs (which are needed to assure voting integrity), again contain irony. Black voters, who fought hard to vote, have IDs but are finding their voting power diluted with laws that allow anyone, with no ID, to vote and potentially distort the will of predominantly Black communities.

Compounding the New Racism is the news media promotion of these deceptions and failure to call out the lies and cynicism. Working hand in hand with this are some weak corporate leaders who have found it expedient to bow to the progressive culture rather than be branded “racist” and hurt their images and businesses.

Most Americans see something disturbing in this situation. Today’s struggle is to call New Racism what it is and move the country forward, together, as the one people that we are.

Grady Means is a writer (GradyMeans.com) and retired corporate strategy consultant who served in the White House as assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, focusing on public welfare and social justice programs, and served in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, focusing on income assistance and health care for the poor. Follow him on Twitter @gradymeans1.