The American dream triumphs over polarization with rise of conservative minorities

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The 2010 midterm elections resulted in the victories of more conservative minority candidates than ever before. We have much to celebrate.

The American Dream consists of the notion that anyone — regardless of their origin or ethnicity — can rise to the highest levels of wealth and power. Yet, in practice, in the American political system, minorities and women have generally accepted the notion that they need legal and financial assistance — some kind of leveling of the playing field — to pursue the American Dream. Hence, our politics has been polarized: the majority of blacks, Hispanics and women have voted, by and large, for Democrats, whereas whites have swung among the two parties.

Lt. Col. Allen West of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina became the first Republican blacks elected in the South since Reconstruction. Moreover, they will be the only black conservatives in Congress since Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts resigned his seat in 2003. Both Mr. Scott and Mr. West were joined by a record-number of black conservatives seeking office: 40 in the primaries, out of which 15 candidates participated in the general election. It will be almost impossible to argue that a black conservative is an “Uncle Tom” in light of this number of black conservatives seeking office.

The most venomous tirades against conservative values have come from race-peddlers such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The election of conservative blacks will act as an antidote. Both Mr. Scott and Mr. West stand as an example that it is possible to be black and to be conservative — and to be embraced by the electorate. How “inherently racist” is America if we elect blacks as our leaders? How “inherently racist” are conservative values if these values are championed by blacks, too?

The 2010 midterm elections were therefore one of the most consequential elections of the last few decades. I would argue it is even more important than the election of the nation’s first black president in 2008. For at last, we can detect the beginning of a new era wherein American politics — and one day our political parties — will not be divided according to race and gender, but exclusively according to the issues. At last, the message that the next generation will receive — in stark and visible fashion — is that one can indeed embrace conservative values and still be a model for one’s ethnic heritage, as well as all Americans. The phrase “black conservative” is as important in overcoming the legacy of slavery as was “black and proud” in the 1970s.

Conservative leaders still fail to garner the majority of the black, Hispanic and female vote. In this election, blacks voted for Democrats at the usual rate of 90 percent, Hispanics chose Democrats at a rate of 60 percent and women voted for Democrats by a slim margin, 49 percent to 48 percent, according to exit polls by the American Enterprise Institute. There is indeed much work to do — and it is all the more important as the nation’s demographics change. There are currently four minority-majority states — that is, where the minority population is more than 50 percent: Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas. In 2050, America will be a minority-majority nation. Hence, we must be relentless in spreading conservative values as the country’s demographics change. Nonetheless, in the election of 2010, we have paved the way for the representation of these values by both genders and a variety of races.

This is a great American triumph. Let us rejoice.

Dr. Grace Vuoto is the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal.

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