Every few weeks I seem to get a new YouTube video emailed to me.
It’s of an African-American leader speaking out about how the black community has been had by the Democratic Party. The opinions aren’t new; there is a proud tradition of black conservatism in this country. But the online medium by which these messages are gaining purchase is. And it’s powerful.
I credit Dr. Ben Carson with launching this ongoing digital barrage of African-American apostasy, as liberals tend to see it. Carson is the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and a 2008 recipient of the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He’s also, as of this week, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
Carson stood at the podium of the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. last year, with President Obama sitting beside him, and delivered an excoriating analysis of Obamacare, excessive taxation and government overreach. Needless to say, it got noticed.
Carson’s speech ignited a firestorm of agreement. That’s what happens when you tap into a largely unspoken truth. It was followed by similar online talks by respected African-American leaders, Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory among them. Guillory has received 1.2 million views so far on his compelling YouTube video, “Why I am a Republican.” His state senate district has around 120,000 residents.
Chicago community activists Paul McKinley, Mark Carter, Joseph Watkins and Harold “Noonie” Ward delivered a pro-conservative and anti-Democratic Party message less than two weeks ago on YouTube. It already has 925,000 views. African-American author Deneen Borelli is unsurprisingly causing a stir with her new book, “Blacklash: How Obama and the Left Are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation.”
The election Tuesday of unabashed black conservatives Tim Scott as North Carolina’s new U.S. senator and Mia Love as Utah’s new congresswoman for the Fourth District augurs well for this movement’s future, too. Love, you may recall, electrified an audience with her life story and refusal to be categorized as a victim at the Republican National Convention in 2012. I was part of that audience.
She also cut to the chase Tuesday about what this growing conservative black movement is all about — individualism over collectivism. In a post-election interview with CNN, Love was asked how her race and gender were a factor in her victory. She fired back:
“First of all, I think what we need to mention here is this had nothing to do with race,” Love said. “Understand that Utahns have made a statement that they’re not interested in dividing Americans based on race or gender, that they want to make sure that they’re electing people who are honest and who have integrity . . .”
In other words, it was the content of Love’s character that got her elected, not the color of her skin.
What a radical notion. Where have we heard that before?
I was reminded by an emerging conservative leader in New York, the 2013 City Comptroller candidate John Burnett, who also happens to be black, that economic collectivism was at the core of early African-American civil rights successes in this country. The Montgomery bus boycott broke the back of that city financially, and so it was forced to relent on its racist back-of-the-bus policy. It’s no wonder then that collectivism remains deeply rooted in the psyche of many African Americans. But through Carson and others there are clear indications that its popularity and usefulness is waning.
Fifty-nine years after Montgomery, there is a growing core of African-American intellectuals espousing individualism as the key to true black advancement in this country, one man and one woman at a time.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican consultant who worked on the Rob Astorino campaign for governor.