The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

A Crimson Tide Moment

I use the description “Crimson Tide moment” to describe something-an action, statement, etc-that, on its face, is completely incorrect…and that, after some introspection and digging, has some truth or rightness about it.

Today’s comes from Herman Cain:

Asked why more African Americans haven’t joined him at tea party rallies and conservative conventions like the Faith And Family Conference in DC this weekend, the millionaire ex-CEO has a different explanation. African Americans, Cain told TPM, are too poor to tea party.

Dead wrong. That is, until you look at it a little closer.

Little known fact: back in 2009, when I helped start the Hampton Roads Tea Party (HRTP, for the initiated), I wasn’t working. I had been in Norfolk for about two months, after leaving my job at the VA in DC. The job I was waiting for didn’t start until May (and, conversely, ended my major association with HTRP for a time).

With a son, and a little girl on the way, was it the best thing to spend a lot of time on? I can argue either way (the mrs. might say “hell no!!”). It was a cause I believed in (still do, some disagreements aside), and I thought it was worth the effort. I didn’t lose any money in doing it (didn’t make any either), and for what amounted to about a month’s worth of work, my family survived it.

What’s my point? That to be involved in something like the Tea Party, outside of a leadership level, doesn’t take half of what I did. It costs nothing to do, save whatever your transportation costs are and materials to make signs (and I’m not a sign-maker). And if it’s an issue that’s close to you-as the cause behind the Tea Party became to me-you’ll make a sacrifice for it. Even if only once (and once was all I could do). We see it all the time in the black community-NAACP conferences, the events surrounding the Jena 6, the CBC’s annual session. For a cause strong enough, you’ll make it work, principles of personal responsibility be damned.

So that’s where he’s most wrong. But where is he right?

“They can’t afford to,” Cain said. “So I think the first reason is economics. If you just look at the sheer economics of it.”

“If you look at the typical income of a black family of four it’s going to be lower than a non-black or white family of four,” he explained. “Generally speaking on average, white families are much more economically prosperous than black families. So, many black families don’t have the economic flexibility to go to a CPAC conference.”

He’s wrong again in equating CPAC to a Tea Party type event, as CPAC far outlives-and will far outlive-the Tea Party. But he does make a point here.

I’ve been trying to go to CPAC for at least 2 years now (and why I didn’t go when I was in DC is beyond me). Transportation there, lodging there, food there, registration for the event (or events)…that stuff adds up. And remember from above, wasn’t working in ’09, nor in ’10 (post-McDonnell campaign; didn’t start school until May of that year, though I had some side projects bringing money into the house). Even this year, when I was working and could have afforded it, there were other family things more important (and technically, I could’ve gone as a student, but…). I’m not knocking that; it’s the reality of life, of family, of manhood. But I’m sure there’s many more like me-and worse off than me-who look at everything associated with these big conferences and say, “yeah…I’ve got bigger things to do, and it’s free on the internet.”

Now that I’ve made my points, the whole article is here. But there’s a grander truth to all this as well.

As a Republican Tea Partier-no, let’s go personal; as a black Republican Tea Partier-my work isn’t at CPAC, Tea Party Nation, or the Faith and Family Coalition Conference (which I could’ve gone to for about free). My network is there; the people and organizations who can help me do what I need to do, as well as others who are doing it. But-sad reality-they’re not beating down the doors to come to where my work is, though sometimes it seems they want me to beat down doors to come to where they’re doing theirs, which then earns me the “not conservative enough” label (and that’s an indictment of the Tea Party as well, though I must acknowledge Richmond’s is at least trying).

My work’s in the streets; in the urban areas where the conservative/Republican/Tea Party message either isn’t heard (by choice) or isn’t delivered (by choice). That’s where I feel it’s most important to be, and that’s where I’d rather make the sacrifices, when necessary, to be. Even with my “affiliations,” people in those communities who wouldn’t give conservative principles a second thought will at least listen and consider coming from me. And I take pride in that, because in that consideration, it makes my cause stronger…so that one day, others will choose to make the sacrifices to go to the big events, because they believe as strongly as I do.

The defense of home-be it my four walls, my four blocks in downtown Norfolk, or the cities in which I live/grew up in-is really the first principle of my political involvement. And yes, before you ask…in the order written.

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