Thomas Sowell to Newsmax: GOP Outreach to Blacks ‘Most Unpromising’

Friday, 22 Mar 2013 09:18 PM

By Todd Beamon and John Bachman

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Economist and conservative author Thomas Sowell tells Newsmax TV that “Republicans have a decades-long record” of reaching out to the black vote in the “most unpromising way possible.”

And based on the party’s strategy moving forward, he says, not much has changed.

“I’m baffled by so many things that the Republican Party does nationally,” Sowell tells Newsmax on Friday in an exclusive interview.

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Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, tells Newsmax the GOP’s current plan to woo minorities is the same misguided strategy employed decades ago by former President Ronald Reagan.

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“When [Reagan] set out to win the black vote, he went to the Urban League,” Sowell said. “He was going to these black establishments as his entrée into the black public, as if the establishment owned the rest of the black people.”

Now, Sowell says, in plans unveiled recently by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, “they’re talking about going to the NAACP, which is the next thing to a fully-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party — and that’s how they’re going to try to reach blacks.

“All they’re doing is increasing the sense that those are the blacks who matter and that they are the entryway for the rest of the black people,” he says.

Sowell, 82, whose new book is “Intellectuals and Race,” notes how Priebus discussed reaching out to African Americans in Detroit to woo them to the GOP. “You seriously think that’s where you’re going to find Republican voters or blacks who are conservative?”

Sowell says while Republicans are “wavering and moaning and gnashing our teeth” about the failures of national GOP candidates, “Republicans out in the Midwest and in other parts of the country have won a majority of the governors’ chairs.

“My only guess as to why that might be so is that maybe the people out there in other parts of the country are not listening to the pollsters and so-called wise men that the Republican establishment seems to think so highly of,” he says.

Sowell says his new book developed from a previous work, “Intellectuals and Society,” and that affirmative action is “one of the few policies that can be said to harm virtually every group in a different way.

“Obviously, whites and Asians lose out when you have preferential admission for black students or Hispanic students — but blacks and Hispanics lose out because what typically happens is the students who have all the credentials to succeed in college are admitted to colleges where the standards are so much higher that they fail.”

He elaborates on the so-called “mismatch theory,” referencing California’s 1996 ban on preferential treatment in government hiring or in public-university admissions.

“The number of blacks and Hispanics at Berkley and UCLA fell substantially, but for the system as a whole there was virtually no change — except that a much higher percentage of blacks and Hispanic students now graduate instead of punching out.

“I taught at UCLA years ago, and one of the painful things I had to go through was talking to black students who were flunking out. I can remember asking them, ‘What were your SATs?’ And then, finally: ‘Did it ever occur to you that you shouldn’t have been at UCLA? There’s a whole system. You could have been someplace else and succeeded, rather than come here and fail.’”

“And the students, many of whom were the first in their family to go to college, did not understand that you really don’t gain anything by flunking out of UCLA when you could have gotten a degree and gone on to a professional career from UC-Davis,” Sowell says.

In this vein, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also should be abolished, he adds.

“There are groups like the NAACP, La Raza, various lawyers who specialize in bringing civil rights cases. You can also include a government agency like the EEOC,” Sowell says. “If you set up an agency to look for discrimination, they’ve got to fight discrimination in order to justify their existence. And if there’s not enough by the existing definition, they’ve got to continually broaden the definition if they want their jobs.”

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential race, Sowell tells Newsmax that famed pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who attacked President Barack Obama last month at the National Prayer Breakfast, could easily lose support among conservatives amid any negative publicity.

“It depends on how you define conservatives. If you define them by Republicans, I don’t know. Obviously, any black conservative who shows signs of getting political traction, such as Herman Cain, has to be destroyed.

“It’s almost like a machine-gunner on a battlefield. The enemy is going to make that machine-gunner their first target because they’ve got to stop him if they have any chance.

“The people who are the Democrats, and others, will try to make him suffer that same fate,” Sowell says, referring to Cain and former Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, whose remarks in a newspaper interview were viewed as critical of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. “Whether they will succeed is another question.”

“One of the sad things is that a number of black conservatives who have gone out on a limb and have then had the rug pulled out from under them is like a conservative metaphor,” Sowell says. “You’ve got to have people who have some principles and some guts. If you’re going to go out there on that limb and then your supposed allies are going to cut the limb off, it’s bad news.

“I hope that does not happen to Dr. Carson,” he adds. “He really seems like an extraordinary man — and I would hate to see him diminished in any way because of politics.”

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