Myth: Conservatives Are Racists

And Democrats Are Afraid That You Will Find Out

Carson WW
Ben Carson at a Wounded Warrior Project Event. Getty Images - Brent N. Clarke

Dustin Hawkins, Conservative Politics Expert: Do you oppose Obamacare or any other left-wing agenda item? You are probably a racist. Do you support a merit-based system of promotion over a racially-charged one? Also, racist. Ever since Barack Obama was elected in 2008, most opposition to his policies has been deemed "racist." This argument works if you believes conservatives would have embraced Obamacare and the trillion-dollar stimulus if only a white Democrat had proposed them.

But Democrats are scared. The origins of the myth was written before the explosion of diversity within the Republican Party. Once deemed the party of Old White Men, minorities and women have become a force in the political scene. While Democrats like to pin their historical roots of segregation and discrimination on the Republicans, it's the GOP who is making the gains. Majority-white constituents nominated and elected Tim Scott and Nikki Haley for the US Senate and Governor in South Carolina - and both outperformed Lindsey Graham on the same ballot. Bobby Jindal (LA), Susana Martinez (NM) and Brian Sandoval (NV) also won gubernatorial elections. In Utah, Mia Love was elected to the House of Representatives, also from a majority white district.

In the 2016 Republican race for president, the GOP produced the most diverse slate of candidates in any party, ever, and not one of the top 4 most favorably-viewed candidates was a white male.

Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina are all plausible nominees for the presidency. It's possible that the 2016 ticket produces the first minority-minority major party ticket in history.

Previous from Justin Quinn, May 2009:

Origins of the Myth

While there are always rogue members of any political movement, conservatives are not generally racists and, in fact, abide by and espouse racial tolerance.

Conservatives see racial equality as a starting point, not a destination. They believe that if racial tolerance is an expected attitude, rather than an anticipated one, racial harmony will naturally follow.

In the early part of the 20th Century, Democrats and Republicans who supported segregation were referred to as conservatives, and this early incarnation of the movement often dealt specifically with the issue of race. In the 1950s, "Mr. Conservative" Barry Goldwater emerged with a new brand of conservatism that looked beyond segregation and, in fact, opposed it. Goldwater failed in his effort to change the perception of conservative intolerance, however, when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Although Goldwater was acting in what he believed to be the best interests of minorities (he had voted in favor of several previous versions of the legislation), his vote on what ultimately became the final copy of the bill solidified the national impression that conservatives are racists and provided liberals and progressives with a standing argument against any substantive ideas that come from conservatives.

Affirmative Action, Hate Crime Bills & Quotas
Perhaps the biggest reason modern-day conservatives are thought of as racists is their opposition to affirmative action programs, hate crime legislation and quotas.

Liberals believe that if special attention is devoted to "protecting" members of a particular race from racial inequality, racial harmony will ensue. Conservatives believe this to be flawed reasoning, and contend that if special attention, in the way of opportunities and services, are showered upon people of a specific ethnicity, those not belonging to that ethnic community will feel a natural resentment. This resentment undoubtedly will manifest itself as prejudice. Conservatives believe providing everyone -- regardless of race -- the same opportunities and services is the only definitive way to ensure racial harmony.

Discussing Race
Since race is such an important topic in modern-day America, conservatives of any race, are often more inclined to broach the subject of race than liberals. Ironically, liberals focus on race legislatively and politically, but shy away from the subject in everyday conversation.

This is due to political correctness, which has permeated society and often leads to more hurt feelings than simple forthright discussion.

Most conservatives believe engaging in discussions of race -- without accusations of prejudice or racism -- is important for members of minority and majority groups. This bold willingness to confront the subject is often misunderstood as racism when the reality is quite the opposite. Conservatives wish to discuss the subject to improve the lives of both ethnic communities. As much as minorities feel burdened by what they perceive as oppressive behavior by members of the majority, members of the majority feel burdened by a sense of guilt they feel is imposed upon them by what they perceive to be resentful behavior from the minority. Only through civil debate and discussion will both communities begin to understand the other and be better equipped to develop workable solutions to improving race relations.