Are Republicans Shrinking Government Because It’s too Black?

Are Republicans Shrinking Government Because It’s too Black?


by Marvin King

While the stock market cheers today’s news that the Federal Reserve is coordinating action with several central banks in Europe and Canada, attempting to stem the European sovereign debt crisis, too little attention is paid to the structural deficiencies in the American economy – long term unemployment.

In fact, Republicans lead the charge to permanently cripple a large section of the economy.

Even as the private sector job market shows signs of a modest, but real rebound from the depths of recession (in later posts I will explain why this has me sanguine about Obama’s reelection chances), public sector layoffs continue unabated.

It’s the shrinking of the public sector that hampers the ability of Black workers to ride out the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession. Black workers, either in the military, the Post Office, or in many other government agencies, typically find government work the safest, most stable and least discriminatory of employment options. In fact, over 20% of all public sector workers – state, local and federal – are African American.

Yet, despite this salve, Black employment, at 15.1%, is nearly double the White unemployment rate of 8%.

Thus, it is with particular horror when I see the glee on conservative columnist George Will’s face when he discusses how “good” it is that government workers are losing out.

Let us not forget the pure political calculus at play here. Political parties serve to protect their own voters. Republicans love to bash government bureaucrats because they know few of their core voters work for the government (think of Grover Norquist’s dream to “drown government in the bathtub”). Republicans know that Black workers disproportionately suffer from their policies.

But, because GOP candidates receive so few votes from Black voters and so few votes from government workers they become an attractive target.

The casual Republican response will be that race has nothing to do with it, that there is a legitimate need to shrink the size of government. GOP rhetoric, of course belies the facts:  total government employment has already steadily shrunk since the 1960’s.

It is just like so many Republicans to ignore and neglect the human cost of their policies. They launch fire and brimstone when Democrats advocate that the wealthiest among us should pay more to help with deficit reduction. Yet, the same compassion is lacking when it comes to helping everyday Americans, you know … survive.

Why might that be?

A second common Republican refrain is that the real problem is unionized public sector workers.

Since public sector jobs generally require higher education and that over the last 15 years, “earnings for state and local workers have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees” you should be wary in accepting that argument, too.

Maybe it’s not as simple as Black and White. But I’m convinced that if all government workers were White suburbanites, elected Republicans wouldn’t be so callous about drowning them in the bathtub.

Marvin King received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Texas and is now an Associate Professor of Political Science with a joint appointment in the African American Studies Program at the University of Mississippi. He conducts research into how political institutions affect African American politics. Marvin is available for public speaking engagements and you can follow him on Twitter @kingpolitics


  1. Your assertion is ludicrous. Republicans are for shrinking the size of the citizenry's overhead (i.e. governement). The shrinking of government benefits ALL Americans: Black, white, or otherwise. Quit playing to an emotionally vunerable audience and gain some journalistic integrity.

    • Tell me Marcus, how in the hell does shrinking the government of a nation of over 300 million people help any one? The government..for all it's faults, ensures that you have clean drinking water, that your food is'nt covered in rat shit before it hits the grocer's shelves(don't believe me? look up why the FDA was started by Theodore Roosevelt), that ensures that you can't be forced to work more than 40 hours with over-time,etc.. You must be a troll, because you can't possibly be this damn stupid.

  2. Yes. That's why all the attacks against President Obama have been about how he is giving reparations to the Black Farmers, how Obama is the Welfare President and those on Welfare should be sterilized. Even presidential candidate Michelle Bachman signed a Pledge that said; "African American children in Slavery were more likely to be born in a two parent household than AAs today under President Obama. Oh yeah and "our Forefathers worked Tirelessly To Ensure Slavery Was No More" So Republicans are All shrinking government by Deregulating the oil, gas, banks, food, environment protections.

  3. President Obamas re-election chances will be tied to job growth accross the board not just those in the public sector. The Republican candidate should also be required to present his or her plan for job growth in America as the President has in The American Jobs Act. Michael and Marcus a better educated and more efficient government employee armed with state of the art systems will serve Americans best. Finally, I want an honorable President that exhibit the charistics that our children should look for in a role model. President Obama is a caring father and husband, well educated professional, christain, exhibits high moral charter, loves his country and serves her well. I have not seen these values from the Republican candidates.

  4. Quote me on this statement and The date will be here too ….Novemember 6,2012 ..Obama will repeat as president …(No Problem) at all …We will have our president another 4 years ….Sign "Don" on July 7th,2012…….