Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Celebrating Black (Republican) History Month

Congressman John Hyman
R-NC2  1875-1877
An interested reader in North Carolina can scour social and print media all month long and not come across a single reference tying the Grand Old Party, the Republican Party, to citizenship for former slaves after the Civil War.

Until now, that is.

There is not much black history in the South other than slavery until the intervention of Republicans in the early-to-mid 19th century. Anti-slavery activists were National Republicans before 1832 when Henry Clay formed the Whig Party in opposition to President Andrew Jackson’s “imperial presidency.” 

The Whigs carried the abolition banner until 1854 when Abraham Lincoln helped regenerate the Republican Party as an anti-slavery party. Abolitionists in the North were Radical Republicans. A large majority of the 2 million Union soldiers who saw action in the war voted Republican in 1864 as they fought and died to finish the war, which they knew would result in freedom and citizenship for 3 million slaves.

After the South’s surrender in April of 1865, newly freed slaves registered to vote as Republicans in a tidal wave that shifted political power in Congress and the electoral college to the South. Every one of the 391,650 black citizens of North Carolina as of 1870 who voted was a Republican. Blacks voted overwhelmingly for Republican candidates until World War I. It wasn’t until the economic devastation of the Great Depression that black citizens started voting for Democrats in large majorities, which mirrored the change in white voting patterns as well.

Every black elected official in North Carolina was a Republican between 1868 and 1901. Four black Republican US Congressmen were sent to Washington from the “Black Second” Congressional District: John Hyman (1875), James O’Hara (1883), Henry Cheatham (1889) and George White (1897). One-hundred-twenty-seven black Republicans served in the N.C. General Assembly — 101 in the House and 26 in the Senate — during the latter part of the 19th century.

If the genealogy of any living black resident of North Carolina can be traced back to a former slave, that former slave was a Republican, not a Democrat.

I ran for Congress in 1984 in the aforementioned Second Congressional District. One newspaper editor in a rural county said he agreed with most everything I said but he wouldn’t endorse my candidacy for Congress. When asked why, he said, “Because of what the Republicans did to North Carolina!”

I thought he meant Hoover and the Depression. After thinking about it awhile, it occurred to me that he was talking about Lincoln and the carpetbaggers during Reconstruction.

He was 93 years old at the time. He had grown up listening to his dad and grandpa curse Republicans for ruining North Carolina. As a result, he was a “mossy-back Democrat,” because he “was so old he had moss growing on his back.”

Despite ferocious opposition and personal physical attack from white Southern Democrats, brave black and white Republicans banded together to control North Carolina politics, education, business and industry for most of the last 30 years of the 19th century. Wilmington was North Carolina’s largest and most prosperous city at the time and was home to the largest amount of wealth creation by black businessmen in the state.

It wasn’t until the heinous murders of scores of blacks in Wilmington and a subsequent coup of state government by Southern Democrats in 1898 that Republicans, both black and white, were disenfranchised and relegated to an insignificant role in state politics until almost a century later when Reagan won the White House in 1980.

There is a historical umbilical cord joining free black citizens in the South and Republicans. Revisionists may try to cut it from history books, but erasing history doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. 

Celebrating the bravery of black elected leaders and businessmen who prospered in North Carolina after the Civil War has to include the crucial role of Republican ideals, policies and politicians, or else it is untrue and incomplete.

Republicans today believe in the same core values as the GOP did in 1854: freedom of speech, thought and faith; equality of opportunity; limited government; and the rule of law regardless of skin color, background or socio-economic situation. When black Republican candidates embrace those core Republican values and principles, they get elected by Republicans — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina and U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina are two prominent examples.

The bravery of black Republicans in North Carolina after the Civil War is almost beyond comprehension. It needs to be remembered and saluted as such during Black History Month.

(first published North State Journal 2/24/21)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Witch Hunts and Conspiracy Theories

Setting The Tone for
American Politics for
Centuries to Come
 Americans love two things: witch hunts and conspiracy theories.

Americans periodically get mesmerized by witch hunts such as the charges of Russian Collusion brought by Democrats against then-President-elect Donald Trump before he was even sworn into office in 2016. The fantastical scope of conspiracy theories postulated for the past four years which culminated in not one but two impeachment proceedings made even the craziest conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy Assassination look sane by comparison.

British historian Paul Johnson observed, "America seems particularly prone to these spasms of self-righteous political emotion in which all sense of perspective and the national interest is lost."

No one has said it better. America has had such paroxysms before: the Salem Witch Trials, 1692. The Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s under John Adams. The Sedition Acts in 1917-1918 under Woodrow Wilson. The Red Scare of the 1950s under Senator Joe McCarthy. Watergate, Irangate, Whitewatergate, Travelgate…the list never ends.

Most of the time, political witch hunts are a colossal waste of time, effort and energy. They usually end in no convictions, no proof revealed and no conspiracies uncovered. It is hard enough to get political people to agree on a date for a lunch meeting and to then show up on time without blabbing to the press, much less plot to overthrow our government and cooperate with Putin and his hackers.

Conspiratorial theories are one thing. Flawless execution of a legal and political strategy, such as what has been pulled off by the Soros Open Society Foundation and the Arabella Advisors network in states such as Colorado and Georgia for the past decade, is entirely another topic.

While Congress played the conspiracy fiddle for the past four years, the national debt exploded from $22 trillion to $28 trillion; the COVID virus invaded America; and China continued to gain economically and politically around the world at the expense of American influence and prestige. The nation’s work has been ignored for the sake of political expediency.

Periods of political hysteria in America are usually measured in months, perhaps a few years. They usually end when a brave person steps up, such as when Army counsel Joseph Welch popped the witch hunt balloon of Joe McCarthy in 1954 by saying during a hearing, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

When the American people start demanding a sense of maturity and decency from their elected officials in Washington and the media, this current state of hysteria will end. When conservatives stop subscribing to the New York Times or buying stuff from Amazon, they will go out of business. When conservatives who have been viciously attacked online or in-person or censored by people on the left file lawsuits based on existing hate crime statutes — because that is what is really going on when the left “hates” someone for what they believe or say — the left will be forced to retreat.

Former Congressman McMillan, with whom I worked on Capitol Hill for a decade, often would remark as he watched a liberal Democrat on the floor of Congress figuratively foam at the mouth attacking Republicans on some issue or the other, “I hope they keep the cameras on him. The more he talks, the more he makes the case for our side, because he simply does not know what he is talking about.”

Proverbs tells us that “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” In a quote often misattributed to Mark Twain, the same sentiment holds: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”.

The American people may be fooled some of the time by political theatre and machinations. But they cannot be fooled all of the time. And when they get tired of being fooled, they will wreak havoc on the offending party come election time.

(first published in North State Journal 2/17/21)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Build Real Equity, Mr. President!

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S domestic policy advisor Susan Rice went to great lengths to explain how the Biden Administration was not only going to somehow wave a magic wand and proclaim “equality” in every federal agency but guarantee everyone achieves “equity” as well.

Equality connotes the sense of fairness and freedom of opportunity, the very essence of American values. Equity by fiat demands everyone’s outcome will be the same even though their individual input in terms of work, education and plain God-given abilities are not ever going to be equal — the very definition of socialism.

Equity cannot be mandated through President Biden’s executive pen or a law passed by Congress. Real equity, however, can be built for everyone through the miracle of investing and tax-free cash value buildup if done correctly over a long period of time. Instead of paying lip-service to the socialist dream of equity, the Biden Administration could take the bold first step that will provide a truly amazing amount of “real equity” for every American citizen for the rest of our history:
  • Make Social Security a defined contribution 401k plan for everyone.
It would be the singular most important step towards financial security for every average American citizen since passage of the Homestead Acts in the mid-to-late 19th century. It would exceed the benefits of any massive tax cut favored by Republicans — 50%+ of citizens pay no income tax to begin with — or gargantuan increases in entitlements and domestic welfare programs favored by liberal Democrats, which are weighing down our children and grandchildren with debt they cannot pay.

Social Security (SS) should have been established as a 401k program at inception in 1935 — except there were no 401k plans until 1978. Or in 1983 when the Greenspan Commission hiked payroll taxes but didn’t change the structure of Social Security. Or during any session of any Congress for the past 38 years.

We have reached the inflection point where younger workers today will not receive a positive net real return on their lifetime payroll tax “contributions” (sic) to SS during retirement. According to former Social Security Trustee Charles Blahous, every younger worker today will lose 3% of their net income during their lifetimes paying SS payroll taxes to the federal government as he explains in his worthwhile report, “An Analytical Framework for Strengthening Social Security,” published by the Mercatus Center.

Boomers retiring today can expect perhaps a 1% real rate of return on all the money paid into SS on their behalf from their paychecks matched by their employers. None of their money went into a true individual investment account where those funds were allowed to grow with tax-free dividends, interest and capital-gains over time. $100 paid in SS taxes one pay period went to Washington, D.C., where it was paid out in SS benefits to Grandpa Jones in Ames, Iowa, the next month.

Minimum wage earners for an entire work career could amass a fortune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in their personal retirement account if every payroll tax dollar they had withheld from their paychecks went into a private 401k plan. Social Security taxes are not tax-deductible at the personal level, which is another impediment to significant wealth accumulation by average working folks.

Minimum wage earners of the past can expect to receive around $1,000/month in Social Security checks after retirement. That is Social Insecurity (SI), not Social Security (SS).

The most unfair and “inequitable” aspect of SS has been the lack of ability to build wealth to pass on to a spouse or children, for people of all races. It is especially acute for black men; the average lifespan of a black male did not pass 67 years until 1997. Many black men died before receiving $1 in SS benefits after a lifetime of work. Had they been able to put their SS money in a true 401k plan, even if they died early at age 60, they could pass along a portfolio of many hundreds of thousands of dollars to a surviving spouse and children instead of relatively meager survivor benefits.

Want to achieve “true” equity, Mr. President and Domestic Policy Advisor Rice? Lead the charge to amend the Social Security system and make it a private plan for every individual for their 21st century
retirement needs.

Younger voters and black men should demand it and march in the streets to make it happen.

(first published in North State Journal 2/10/.21)

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Succisa Virescit

When Cut Down,
Grow Back Stronger

Democrats in Washington are riding high after winning the White House, keeping a very slim margin in Congress and having the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, courtesy of Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

President Joe Biden is furiously signing executive order after executive order like a king of days long ago. 

He didn’t win any “mandate” per se; 30 million people voted for Joe Biden because they hated Donald Trump’s personality and his tweets even though they liked and benefitted from most of his policies. 

As liberal Democrats over-reach and conduct a second impeachment “trial” in the Senate against President Trump, they risk giving strength to the former president and his core supporters, not taking it away from them. 

On March 20, 2006, the Duke men’s lacrosse team was suspended after false rape allegations were filed against three team members. They adopted the slogan “Succisa Virescit” and printed it on their t-shirts for the next season. 

Translated it means, “When Cut Down, Grow Back Stronger”. 

In 2007, under new head coach John Danowski, Duke went to the national championship game and embarked on a decade-plus period of success even Coach K has to admire. 

They were indeed cut down but came back much stronger. 

With every insult, legal challenge and impeachment, this time in absentia, liberal Democrats and #NeverTrumpers are only challenging Trump to “grow back stronger” and run again for the White House in 2024. 

Donald Trump is not a Republican and never has been. That is one reason why old-line Republicans couldn’t stand him; they didn’t understand the difference. He is a bonafide populist in the grand tradition of cantankerous “Old Hickory” himself, President Andrew Jackson, who dominated American electoral politics for almost two decades around his two terms in office from 1829-1837. 

If Trump looks to history, he may decide the easiest course back to the White House would be to run as a third-party candidate. No nasty and expensive Republican primaries to fund or endure. Save all that money for the general election and get organized in targeted states following the same game plan Democrats used to win in 2020. 

It is true no third-party candidate has ever won before. However, Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton won in multi-candidate races with far below 50% of the popular vote — Lincoln won a four-way race with 39.8% of the vote and Clinton won a three-way contest in 1992 with 42% of the vote, defeating President George H.W. Bush 41 and Ross Perot. 

Grover Cleveland is the only president to have lost re-election (1888) and then come back to win a second term in the White House (1892). It is not “impossible.” 

Former President Teddy Roosevelt tried to come back from retirement to win a third term in 1912 as the Bull Moose candidate but all he did was split the Republican vote with then-President Taft to hand the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson. 

President Trump could split the Republican vote in 2024 and guarantee a win for the presumptive nominee, Vice-President Kamala Harris, if Biden serves only one term. But Trump could win 40-42% of the popular vote nationwide and sweep the electoral college if he wins every red state by a plurality, not a majority, plus a few other states where he got very close to 50% of the vote, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

In a 3-way or even 4-way race, Trump has a chance to win very blue states such as California (54 electoral votes in 2024) and New York (28) with only 36-38% of the vote as he did in November. If Trump wins both, he could win 314 electoral votes in 2024 just by holding onto the red states he won in 2020. 

The last major third-party effort was by Ross Perot who captured almost 20% of the vote in 1992. They tend to happen every 20-30 years or so. America is due for another one soon. 

Donald Trump is still by far and away the most talked about politician in America. If his detractors really want to be rid of him, they should ignore him and let him remain in exile in Florida. 

Otherwise, he may return only stronger when 2024 comes around.

(first published in North State Journal 2/3/21)