While Donald Trump continues to get disproportionate attention for his correctly grounded—if not well formulated—attacks on out of control immigration, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is quietly emerging as a much more serious candidate. Worth catching the excerpts of his remarks on race and economic opportunity that he delivered at the National Press Club last Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal editorializes on it today:
[Perry’s] remarks are far more than a mea culpa. He also lays out a rationale and a specific agenda for how the GOP can earn—and deserve—the support of black Americans. In particular he points out how Republican policies have improved life for all races in Texas. And he contrasts those results for blacks in progressive states that purport to do so much more for minorities but have left them behind economically.
In particular I relished this part of Perry’s aggressive analysis:
There is a lot of talk in Washington about inequality. Income inequality. But there is a lot less talk about the inequality that arises from the high cost of everyday life. In blue state coastal cities, you have these strict zoning laws, environmental regulations that have prevented builders from expanding the housing supply. And that may be great for the venture capitalist who wants to keep a nice view of San Francisco Bay, but it’s not so great for the single mother working two jobs in order to pay rent and still put food on the table for her kids.
There’s a huge opportunity for conservatives if they will but attempt to grasp it. I recall with glee the day I appeared on a panel on “Environmental Justice” at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s annual “Diversity and Inclusion Summit.” (Stop guffawing: I was the diversity and inclusion that year.) Of course, most of the other panelists wanted to talk about chemical companies deliberately poisoning their neighbors, or the predations of those two brothers from Kansas, or whatnot. But what most of the minorities in attendance at the session wanted to talk about was high housing prices in Boulder that required them to live elsewhere and have long commutes to work.
Boulder, like much of coastal California, has long had very restrictive land use policies in place to preserve open space and quality of life. The mania for open space is so deep that the town even went so far as to purchase land in an adjacent county to keep it from being developed. Fine and nice if you are a prosperous Boulderite, but the “disparate impact” is obvious.
I always have fun pointing this out; the “environmental justice warriors’ change the subject as fast as they can (Look! Koch-funded squirrels!), or propose some ridiculous regulatory scheme that amounts to housing rationing.
Beyond this particular point, a competent conservative politician ought to be able to make some hay out of the fact that blacks are moving in large numbers from states liberals run to southern states that conservatives run—you know, those states supposedly soaked in racism. Perry does exactly this:
From 2005-07 more African-Americans moved to Texas than all but one other state, that state being Georgia. Now, many were coming from blue states like New York and Illinois and California. Many came from Louisiana, where they had lost their homes due to Hurricane Katrina. But each one of those new residents was welcomed to Texas with open arms. They came to a state with a booming economy. We kept taxes low, regulations low, we kept frivolous lawsuits to a minimum. . .
If we create jobs, incentivize work, keep nonviolent drug offenders out of prison, reform our schools, and reduce the cost of living—we will have done more for African-Americans than the last three Democratic administrations combined.
This could be a very effective way of calling out the left on their egregious race-baiting. Understand that the left has to race-bait not just for ideological reasons, but for sheer self-preservation. The left understands that Republicans don’t need to win a majority of the black or Hispanic vote to prosper; the GOP only needs to increase its share—say to 20 percent of the black vote and 40 – 45 percent of the Hispanic vote—and it will be all over for the Democratic Party. Several blue states would flip back to the GOP in presidential elections.
Perry has clearly learned from his ill-fated 2012 run. Keep your eye on him. I’ll bet he surprises in one of the early debates.