To reach black voters, who traditionally vote Democrat, with a Republican message, conservative author and talk show host Larry Elder says that talking about the differences in education policy is key.
Elder discussed education during a recent forum to promote his memoir, "Dear Father, Dear Son: Two Lives... Eight Hours." Moderated by Chicago's Morning Answer host Dan Proft, the event allowed Elder to comment on a variety of political topics, including how to sell a conservative message to black voters.
Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication. A video of the forum is posted on YouTube.
Larry Elder, author and conservative talk show host
"For open-minded black families that see the Democrats as the welfare state, plantation party, but aren't convinced [that] the Republican Party isn't still beset by racists... what is the [best] message?" Proft asked.
Elder said that pointing out the difference between Democrats, who typically resist school choice, and Republicans, who champion it, is a key first step.
He cited an example from his school days when he attended Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. According to Elder, only 3 percent of students attending that school can perform at grade level in math.
"I didn't say 30, I said 3 percent," he emphasized. "And it's a Crip school, meaning the gang has adopted the school. I know that because [rapper] Ice T went to my same high school, and he went there because he wanted to go to a gang school."
Policy in the largely Democrat-controlled state of California, Elder said, requires students living in the surrounding Crenshaw neighborhood to attend the school, regardless of their parents' wishes or their children's academic performance. Telling voters about that policy distinction represents an opening for changing the minds of black voters who may otherwise be cold to the conservative message.
"That alone ought to be the argument they [Republicans] ought to make," he said. "The Democratic Party does not want you to have that option, [whereas] the Republican Party does."
What's particularly telling about the Democrats' stance on school choice is the apparent double standard that elite Democrats, such as former President Barack Obama, follow for their own families, Elder pointed out.
As an Illinois senator, Obama sent his daughters, Sasha and Malia, to a private school operated by the University of Chicago, Elder recounted. But when Obama was elected to the White House, Elder recalls that Michelle Obama gave lip service to sending the girls to a public school.
"And I went on the air, and I said, 'Bull,'" Elder said. "If they enroll in a public school, I will wear a dress to work the next day."
As it turned out, the Obama daughters attended Sidwell Friends School, a Washington, D.C. co-ed school run by the Quakers.
Although Michelle Obama reportedly attended a public school, Elder said it was a magnet school an hour's bus ride from her home. Obama, he said, attended a private prep school in Hawaii, the Occidental School in Los Angeles and then Columbia University and Harvard University.
"So basically, all of them have had private education but deny inner-city parents the right to have a private education for their kids." Elder said. "It's an outrage."
“And if that argument is made to people, it will open up some minds,” Elder added.