IF THE SHARE of the black vote that goes to the Democrats ever falls to 70 percent, it may be virtually impossible for them to win the White House or Congress, because they long ago lost the white male vote and their support among other groups is eroding. Against that background, it is possible to understand Democrats' desperate efforts to keep blacks paranoid, not only about Republicans but about American society in general.
Liberal Democrats, especially, must keep blacks fearful of racism everywhere, including in an administration whose Cabinet includes people of Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic and Jewish ancestry and two consecutive black secretaries of state. Blacks must be kept believing that their only hope lies with liberals.
Not only must the present be distorted, so must the past - and any alternative view of the future must be nipped in the bud. That is why prominent minority figures who stray from the liberal plantation must be discredited, debased and, above all, kept from becoming federal judges.
A thoughtful and highly intelligent member of the California Supreme Court such as Justice Janice Rogers Brown must be smeared as a right-wing extremist, even though she received 76 percent of the vote in California, hardly a right-wing extremist state. But desperate politicians cannot let facts stand in their way.
Least of all can they afford to let Justice Brown become a national figure on the federal bench. The things she says and does could lead other blacks to begin to think independently - and that in turn could threaten the whole liberal house of cards. If a smear is what it takes to stop her, that is what liberal politicians and the liberal media will use.
It's "not personal," as they say when they smear someone. It doesn't matter how outstanding or upstanding Justice Brown is. She is a threat to the power that means everything to liberal politicians. The Democrats' dependence on blacks for votes means that they must keep blacks dependent on them.
Black self-reliance would be almost as bad as blacks becoming Republicans, as far as liberal Democrats are concerned. All black progress in the past must be depicted as the result of liberal government programs, and all hope of future progress must be depicted as dependent on the same liberalism.
In reality, reductions in poverty among blacks and the rise of blacks into higher-level occupations were both more pronounced in the years leading up to the civil rights legislation and welfare-state policies of the 1960s than in the years that followed.
Moreover, contrary to political myth, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But facts have never stopped politicians or ideologues before and show no signs of stopping them now.
What blacks have achieved for themselves, without the help of liberals, is of no interest to liberals. Nothing illustrates this better than political reactions to academically successful black schools.
Despite widespread concerns expressed about the abysmal educational performances of most black schools, there is remarkably little interest in those relatively few black schools that have met or exceeded national standards.
Anyone who is serious about the advancement of blacks would want to know what is going on in those ghetto schools whose students have reading and math scores above the national average, when so many other ghetto schools are miles behind in both subjects. But virtually all the studies of such schools have been done by conservatives, while liberals have been strangely silent.
Achievement is not what liberalism is about. Victimhood and dependency are.
Black educational achievements are a special inconvenience for liberals because those achievements have usually been a result of methods and practices that go directly counter to prevailing theories in liberal educational circles and are anathema to the teachers unions that are key supporters of the Democratic Party.
Many things that would advance blacks would not advance the liberal agenda. That is why the time is long overdue for the two to come to a parting of the ways.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His syndicated column appears Thursdays in The Sun.