I Must Be A Racist!

My mechanic is an Egyptian Muslim.  The lady who has cut my hair for the past decade is an immigrant from Vietnam, in her absence either an Iranian or Iraqi immigrant fills in for her.  My favorite watering hole is run by two gentleman of Indian decent, they are also my friends; I was honored to attend the wedding of one.  My former roommate was a black man, I lived with him and his white wife, both also friends.  I’ve spent years in a service industry dominated by minorities and immigrants of all stripes from Haitians to Australians.  I subscribe to Martin Luther King’s admonition to judge by “the content of character”.

I am also a conservative.  I gather, by way of media commentary and charges from Capital Hill, that as a conservative, I must be a racist.  I oppose a majority of the President’s policies and can identify actual reasons for that opposition; no matter, opposition apparently hurls me into the racist cadre as well.  The hurling done, frequently by the same folks who purport support for Dr. King’s message!  They don’t know me or my character, but hurled onto the racist pile I am nonetheless, disagreement equated with racism.

To say I am offended would be the kindest possible way of describing my reaction to being consistently painted with that particularly broad brush.  Oh I know, not everyone says it, but the ongoing contextual implication is everywhere; the charge of racism ends the conversation, fait d’accompli.  If it’s said, it must be true. And, oh by the way, do you still beat your wife?

A conservative, if he or she really is one, decries racism and many other isms as a horrific waste of potential and the worst manner of inequality.  Conservatives believe, for example, that the welfare culture present in the 60’s and 70’s resulted in a nearly permanent underclass; enough to get buy well enough and just enough to make replacing benefits in the private sector nearly impossible for most;  nanny state racism and sexism.  Conservatives believe that a safety net is necessary but not to the point of permanent dependency.  Is that Racism?

Conservatives believe that programs such as the D.C. school voucher program are a way to generate equal opportunity for students with potential but little in the way of resources.  Conservatives believe all students have potential and resources should not be the dividing line.  The D.C. voucher program was utilized mainly by minority families.  The program was fabulously successful.  The Obama administration killed it; success notwithstanding as it did not fit the ideological narrative.  Bulwarks of Democratic politics, teachers unions, also reject vouchers as they reject standards and the expectation of demonstrable performance.  The idea of firing crappy teachers fought at every turn.  It’s fine to talk about a rising tide raising all the public education boats but that tide has simply not come in.   That is especially the case in areas that need excellent education and the impact that excellent education has on self image and the view of an individuals future and potential.  Conservatives believe education is the silver bullet.  The education infrastructure may agree rhetorically, but it’s hard to believe based on behaviors and political positions.

Conservatives believe that competition not protection generates results in everything from education to business.  This is especially the case with public education where resource allocation to “administration” frequently outweighs resources in the classroom. 

Conservatives believe that the closer to citizens that administration and money is the better spent and more accountable it will be.  The U.S. Department of Education will administer a budget of $138 Billion dollars (FY 2011) and yet they do not directly educate a single student.  For the sake of getting to more manageable numbers we’re that money to be split amongst Congressional districts each would receive nearly $315 million!  That would be enough to send nearly 8,000 students, per district, to an Ivy League school.  Or, we could knock of 11% off the annual budget deficit.  

Equating conservatives with Republicans is a dicey exercise these days but we’ll go with that bit of relativity for the moment.  

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 American Community Survey the cities with the highest percentage of people below the poverty line range from Newark, N.J. at 24.2% to Detroit, MI at 32.5%. 

Detroit’s last non Democratic Mayor was in 1961; Buffalo, 1954.  Cincinnati and Cleveland have had nothing but Democratic Mayors since the mid 1980’s.  Miami and El Paso have never had a Republican Mayor; St. Louis, not since 1949.  Newark and Milwaukee have seen nothing but Democratic Mayors since 1908 and Philadelphia since 1952.  The simple fact is that cities with the most pressing challenges have been dominated by Democratic ideology.  The names change but circumstances have, typically eroded for decades.

It is not rare to hear economic opportunity and educational quality associated with racism and there is truth in that charge.  If that is, in fact, true does the stewardship of Democrats over these troubled cities reflect failed ideologies, racism or both?  Does a failed ideology, relentlessly pursued to the detriment of the individuals we want to protect from racism, reflect racism? 

Oh, sorry forgot; I must be the racist!