What We Have to Lose
In an effort to revive a flagging campaign, Donald Trump has recently engaged in what he considers minority outreach. According to Mr. Trump African-Americans are living in poverty, our schools are no good, we have no jobs and 58% our youth is unemployed. When we walk down the street, we get shot and our communities are war zones worse than those in foreign countries. He reasons that our Diaspora is the result of our unwavering and illogical support for the Democratic Party. He further reasons that the only way we can escape this condition is by voting for the Donald. After all, what the hell do we have to lose?
Significantly, none of Trump’s minority outreach has occurred in a minority community. He has to date, declined invitations to speak before black churches, historic colleges and black universities, the NAACP, Urban League and multiple Hispanic groups. Instead, his efforts have occurred primarily in front of a T. V. camera or white enclaves like Diamond Dale, Michigan, which is 88% white and West Bend, Wisconsin which is 96% white.
More recently, he called his Democratic opponent a bigot who sees people of color only as a vote not as human beings. He further demonized the Clinton Foundation as a pay for play scam, never mind that he contributed money to the foundation, his opponents political campaigns and maintained a personal relationship with the person he now labels a bigot.
We nevertheless admit that there are serious problems within the African-American community many of which are indeed war zones. We further concede that many of these municipalities have been governed by liberal Democrats, some disastrously so. Nonetheless, Trump is a flawed messenger with a flawed message.
Trump’s outreach to the minority community is about neither outreach nor minorities. It is instead a calculated political appeal to his real audience, i.e., white females and independents voters. His purpose is to make it easier for these groups to vote Trump by persuading them that he is not a racist. And by painting all blacks with the same brush, by equating the worst of African-American society to all of African-American society, he peddles the same racial stereotypes and politically correct conservative talking points that reflect their belief of a lost community in thrall to the racism of the Democrat party.
Regrettably, some African-Americans share this belief. For example, conservative radio host, Wayne Dupree argues that Mrs. Clinton has been tricking people for years and has urged blacks to look at the conditions they are living under. Look to the left, look to the right and look in front of you and tell me if things haven’t changed. Then why do you keep voting for the Democratic Party? Why do you keep voting for the same side? Help elect Mr. Trump so we can change America.
We of course take the opposite position. Like every other voting block, African-Americans are more than capable of discerning and acting in their our best interest. And we are fully cognizant of which party aligns with our hopes and dreams and which one does not.
Even if some problematic urban communities have been led by Democratic mayors, just as many have been burdened by Republican Governors and legislatures. It was a Republican Governor who brought us the Flint Michigan water crisis, And it is the GOP and its standard-bearer who push voter suppression initiatives and caters to White Supremacist, Birthers, the Alt-Right and the conspirators of Breitbart News.
More importantly, in the last eight years, black unemployment has been cut by more than half since it peaked in 2011, the domestic auto industry was saved, manufacturing has stabilized, black teen pregnancy and abortion continue to decline, crime has remained low, the uninsured rate is at its lowest level ever, the federal government is moving away from private prisons and tens of thousands of nonviolent prisoners have been released from prison or are now eligible for parole. http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/22/opinions/black-votr-on-trump-what-we-have-to-lose-bail. To this impressive list, we add the restoration of voting rights to ex offenders, significant changes in the criminal justice system and the mandatory wearing of body cameras by the police.
We can argue all day long about political ideologies and who is using whom. And of course we should not be taken for granted. Not only did Hillary refer to some African-Americans as super predators, but she also praised Robert Byrd, a former KKK leader. The ‘what have you done for me lately inquiry is therefore a legitimate political concern.
Still, both liberals and conservatives push the African-Americans as victims narrative. The only difference is that liberal Democrats see us as victims of institutional racism while conservative Republicans view us as victims of liberal Democrats.
And from his days of housing discrimination, to the Central Park Five, to his leadership role in the Birther Movement, to his beliefs and comments about Mexican immigrants, Muslims and Hispanic judges, to re-tweeting comments from known racists, to his embrace of the Alt-Right, to his telling the supporters to watch for voter fraud in certain parts of Pennsylvania with the dog whistle, “you know what I’m talking about” to his now calling someone else a bigot, Trump has a well documented history of playing the race card.
Rather than helping us he exploits us for his own political and economic gain. Instead of talking to us, he talks about us. In lieu of reaching out to us, he reaches past, around and through us. And rather than attempt to understand or relate to us, he lectures us about how we should think and feel.
It matters not whether Trump is a racist. It is enough that he is supported by those who would reinstate slavery and public lynchings in a heartbeat. For they know, that whether he publicly disowns them or not, he represents their interest and will advance their agenda. This alone is a deal breaker that is not lessened by Trump’s projection of his own bias at others. Trump will therefore garner significantly more votes from the David Duke wing of America society that any minority community, his efforts at minority outreach notwithstanding.
In conclusion, we tell no one how to vote. Each man must follow his own conscience. But neither party is responsible for what we do in our community. We are. And for all her shortcomings Hillary was right about one thing. There are super predators within the black community, a fact we know only too well.
So for this African-American, the choice clear. We must not replace an imperfect ally with an implacable foe. We must not let our disappointment and frustration cause us to surrender our pride, dignity and self-respect to one so undeserving. This is what we lose by voting for Trump.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum