Sage Steele Is Right To Confront Black Americans’ Stubborn Leftism

Sage Steele Is Right To Confront Black Americans’ Stubborn Leftism

ESPN reporter and anchor Sage Steele isn’t afraid to stand against identity politics by critiquing leftist political ideas and representatives. Will black Americans listen?
John Gibbs
By

ESPN reporter and anchor Sage Steele has been taking heat for objecting to the recent actions of rioters and protesters. Here’s her response to opponents of President Trump’s immigration order, who in their histrionic outrage disabled sections of Los Angeles International Airport recently:


In November Steele took NFL player Mike Evans to task for refusing to show respect during our national anthem that honors all Americans — black, white, and everything else — who have sacrificed for us.

In a subsequent Facebook post, Steele called out black intolerance of black non-conformists, especially on political and social issues, and correctly noted that the prevalence of racism among black people is something the Left gives black people a free pass for, instead of calling them out on it the same way they would a white person. This glaring inconsistency should be unacceptable to left-wing thinkers of any race who are internally consistent in their beliefs. Like Steele, having been called “coon” and “Uncle Tom” by some black people for being on the conservative side of the spectrum, I identify with her desire to have real diversity, including political, in the black community.

Steele’s Got a Tough Crowd

Yet as much as I agree with what Steele is saying, I’m almost certain her message will not convince most black people. Yes, it will energize white conservatives who (rightfully) will be glad to see a black person speaking out against left-wing ideology, specifically the strong strain of anti-Americanism that runs through it. That has value in and of itself.

Yet the inability of her message to gain broad traction among black people, as evidenced by its hostile reception, speaks to the difficulty black conservatives have in bringing the black mainstream, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, over to our side. Indeed, according to CNN exit polling, black Republican Sen. Tim Scott received a paltry 8 percent of the black vote during his recent victory in South Carolina, and presidential candidate Ben Carson’s approval rating among black people was 20 percent or less during the GOP primaries.

The GOP faces the difficult scenario that due to 90 percent of black people faithfully and automatically voting Democratic every election, the Democratic Party can sit by idly and gather black votes by default without any effort to actually improve the lives of black people. Now if the Republican Party did the same, they’d be accused of “not working to get the black vote.”

On the other hand, if the GOP does indeed attempt to get the black vote, they’ll be accused of “just doing it for politics” and not being sincere. This clever Democratic messaging has put the GOP in a bind no matter what they do when it comes to reaching black voters, with the black community reacting with skepticism and mistrust either way.

Crying ‘Racist’ Is Wrong But Effective

Also, because black people’s painful past experiences with racism have unfortunately made black people hypersensitive to any and all alleged claims of racism, whether real or imagined, the Democratic Party can simply repeat the mantra that “Republicans are racist” to galvanize black people against the GOP. There will always be one racist idiot they can point to and proclaim, “See, Republicans are racist!” especially with far-left academia constantly inventing new types of racism and new ways to find it.

This is enough to keep most black people in the D column while absolving the Democratic Party of actually doing anything to improve the lives of black people. This is why cleverly positioning racism as the number one threat to black people, and constantly finding new ways to paint society as racist, has been a genius political strategy by the Left.

In fact, even though 30 percent of black people self-identify as conservative according to recent Gallup polling, 90 percent of them still vote Democrat, unwilling to break ranks and vote for the Republican Party that more closely matches their conservative values, largely for the aforementioned reasons. It appears that even economic growth, more jobs, and shared values are unable to get black people to change their party allegiance.

Is It Possible to Break Through?

So, what do we make of all this? As a black conservative and Republican, all this leaves me in the awkward position of agreeing with Steele’s message, but also recognizing that it will not be effective in reaching black people, who have been conditioned to see any kind of conservative message as covertly or overtly racist, and to treat any black person delivering that message as an arrogant traitor who has forgotten her roots.

What’s the solution? Maybe the black vote is so monolithically and stubbornly Democratic that the GOP should forgo spending resources on it and instead focus like a laser on ramping up white turnout to win elections. On the other hand maybe the GOP should go all in, working with Kanye West or other major black culture influencers, setting up shop in black communities, or running ads in black media venues highlighting Democratic Party failures and asking black people for a chance.

I’ve gone back and forth on this question and won’t claim to have the answer. But at the very least, voices like Steele’s should continue to speak out, no matter how hostile the reception. In doing so, she may be giving budding black conservatives the encouragement and strength to stand up and break rank.

John Gibbs (@realJohnGibbs) is a regular contributor to The Federalist and RealClearPolitics. He’s worked at Apple as an engineer on the iPhone, and has used his fluency in Japanese to teach technology to churches in Japan. John holds a B.S. in computer science from Stanford University and a master in public administration from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Photo Kohjiro Kinno / ESPN Images

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