The Third Great Migration — North to South This Time

From 1910 to 1940 two million Blacks moved from the South to the North, primarily to cities like Chicago, Detroit, and New York City. This has been called the First Great Migration. It was followed by a second and even greater migration from 1940 to 1970 when 5 million Blacks went North, leaving their former homes in Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. But the most recent census shows a reversal. Blacks are again on the move, this time out of the liberal utopias of Chicago, Detroit and New York City to Southern states. They aren’t seeking to return to their ancestral homes as much as to find better opportunities for jobs, education for their children, and an escape from Northern urban crime and cultural decay. In other words, they are going South for the same reasons an earlier generation of Blacks went North. To find a better life.

Waves of blue state Blacks are fleeing the stagnant job opportunities, high taxes and rotten social conditions liberal Democrat social policies have created for them. Michigan, Illinois and New York are the three states that are losing Blacks to Southern migration in the greatest numbers. In the words of Walter Russell Mead, “The failure of blue social policy to create an environment which works for Blacks is the most devastating possible indictment of the 20th century liberal enterprise in the United States.”

Mead thinks that Blacks who usually vote blue at the ballot box but are now voting red with their feet will eventually pull the Democrat party to the right. He’s dreaming. The Democrat party is firmly in the grips of radical leftists [see Radical in Chief by Stanley Kurtz] and will not be moving right any time soon. What is more likely is that a tremendous opportunity is about to bloom for the Republican party to explain to Blacks why it is in their interest to support conservative candidates, the overwhelming majority of which will be Republicans. Will Republicans rise to this challenge of will this be another in a long line of missed opportunities to garner Black votes? I wouldn’t put much money on Republicans’ chances of turning this migration into Republican votes. More likely, Republicans will hardly notice what is happening and do nothing to explain to the new Black residents of red states that conservative social and economic policies created the conditions now motivating them to move South, and in order to keep those opportunities those polices should be continued. For that, they will need to forsake their red voting habits and at least give the Republican party a chance.

Republicans have the more powerful story to tell. They should be able to gain Black support which will make it difficult for Democrats to win another election outside of the blue Northeast. But that will require Republicans to learn to talk to Blacks. So I’m doubtful it will happen. Republicans have never shown an aptitude for learning how to make their case to Blacks. Most Republican political victories are the result of Democrats screwing up, not Republicans making smart political moves. Democrats are going to see this as an opportunity for them to gain back lost ground in the South. Sadly, that’s the more likely outcome of this Third Great Migration, unless it’s possible for Republican party leaders to somehow get a mass lobotomy.

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