Beinart, Peter
April 2004
New Republic;4/5/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 12, p8
The author consider why most African Americans will not vote for Republicans, despite agreeing with them on some cultural issues. Consider this political puzzle. According to polls, African Americans are more hostile to gay marriage--indeed, to gays in general--than whites. A December 2003 New York Times survey found that 75 percent of blacks oppose same-sex marriage, compared with 59 percent of whites. Yet, when Mississippi tried to pass an anti-gay-marriage amendment last month, the 17 state representatives who voted no were all African Americans. If politicians keep behaving a certain way, and getting elected, it's a good bet they are getting signals from their constituents that the polls aren't picking up. One thing the polls don't pick up is black suspicion of the Republican Party. [T]he very fact that the GOP is leading the anti-gay-marriage movement delegitimizes the issue for black politicians and black voters. Republicans hope gay marriage will change blacks' views of the GOP. But those views are so negative that the reverse happens--African Americans transfer their hostility to the GOP to whatever issue the GOP happens to be supporting. Before Republicans can win black votes on cultural issues like gay marriage, they have to change African American views of the GOP in general. [B]lacks see many of the GOP's current core beliefs--on tax cuts and government spending, for instance--as racially tinged, which isn't that surprising given the historical intersection of race and class. You don't win voters over by agreeing with them on issues they consider peripheral; you win them over by agreeing with them on the issues they care about most.


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