The Republican Party and many conservative groups have shied away from inner cities in the past. Collectively, they may see little point in confronting what they feel will be universal hostility. As individuals, few want to go to speak at events where they may be derided for the duration.
Are either one of these fears based in reality? One DC columnists' writings suggest not.
Jeffrey McNeill writes an opinion column for Washington DC's Street Sense. Through much of 2013, his work shows growing affinity for free markets while feeling disgust and disdain for "partisans of the left."
McNeill's most recent column, "A Critique of Liberalism," begins by citing studies showing black Americans to be more socially conservative than many Tea Party advocates. "Truth is," he writes, "a conservative vein runs deep in the black community." McNeill condemns what he calls "victim rhetoric" and explains "as a minority, I yearn for a new black leader to emerge, someone who will inspire a new generation . . . to be independent and self-reliant."
He then cites Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and West Virginia's Booker T. Washington as examples.
"Latte liberals" draw much of his ire. McNeil describes them as standing up for the little guy until they "go off to their suburban homes pontificating about what others might do for humanity." Their "social theories border on arrogance."
McNeill discusses his own struggles with how these ideas brought him into conflict "with those I once agreed with." A summer 2012 piece of his angrily decried anti-Obama conservatives as racist. While McNeill refuses to call himself conservative, he does call free enterprise "harsh and cruel (but) it is the ticket out of poverty."
The Republican Party and conservative groups would do well to closely look at McNeill's writings. He came from "some of the worst projects" in New Jersey and Philadelphia, but saw "miracles" such as single mothers, addicts, and others getting off welfare, overcoming obstacles, educating themselves, and becoming successful in life.
A message of self-reliance never falls on deaf ears. Many people strive to do for themselves. The inner cities are oppressed by poverty in part because government restrictions, regulations, taxes, fees, and other burdens always kill entrepreneurial initiative in the poorest areas. Prosperity cannot take root so hope dies. Free market advocates can bring a powerful message to the inner city if they will but go. McNeill's writings are proof that many will listen.
Street Sense is a newspaper published in Washington DC for the benefit of the homeless. Vendors write for and sell the paper to earn money. All are homeless and struggling.