Riley: Why Haven't Blacks In Power Empowered Blacks?

In PragerU's newest video, "Blacks in Power Don't Empower Blacks," author and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Jason Riley, discusses the false premise that political power for a group necessarily results in socio-economic success for that group. The most important thing about politicians is not their identity, but their policies, he argues.

Riley specifically focuses on the black community, which has seen a significant and important rise in political influence. over the last five decades. Despite a dramatic increase in the number of black politicians, however, Riley argues the black community hasn't seen commensurate gains socio-economically.

"Since 1965, the number of black elected officials has exploded," Riley explains. "Between 1970 and 2012, it grew from fewer than 1,500 to more than 10,000. And, oh, yes, a black man was elected president. Twice."

He continues, "Conventional wisdom would suggest that all these political gains would lead to economic gains. But that has not proven to be the case. In fact, during an era of growing black political influence, blacks as a group progressed at a slower rate than whites, and the black poor actually lost ground. Why was the conventional wisdom wrong?

"Because it was based on the incorrect assumption that politics was the pathway to black progress," he says. "Only black politicians, so the thinking went, could properly understand and address the challenges facing black Americans. It wasn’t stable families, hard work, or education that would lift blacks into the middle class; it was more black city councilmen, congressmen and senators."

Riley discusses how despite certain African-American politicians achieving personal success, their communities and constituents do not seem to reach the same level of accomplishment. "Yet this calculus, political success is a pre-requisite to a better life, remains progressive orthodoxy today," he says.

"The formula for prosperity is the same across the human spectrum," he concludes. "Traditional values such as marriage, stable families, education and hard work are immeasurably more important than the color of your congressman — or senator, or police chief, or president."

Watch the video below:


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