In one of his first presidential speeches, Donald Trump said to a mostly white crowd in Hershey, Pa., “They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was big — so thank you to the African American community.” Had blacks voted in the numbers they did in 2012, Trump would probably not be president. So, his newly announced campaign “Black Voices for Trump,” an appeal to black voters for 2020, rings hollow against his record of racism and litany of lies.
His pitch that black Americans have fared well under his administration and that Democrats have taken them for granted is as solid as a two-legged stool. Criminal justice reform and job growth are now his main talking points for why blacks should be grateful for his leadership.
Yet only a few months ago Trump made clear his disdain for the First Step Act, which brought about criminal justice reform and which he signed.
“A total dud,” is how one person with knowledge of an Oval Office meeting on campaign strategy described Trump’s view of son-in-law Jared Kushner’s bipartisan legislative deal.
“He’s really mad that he did it. He’s saying that he’s furious at Jared because Jared is telling him he’s going to get all these votes of all these felons.” Trump believes in criminal justice reform only when courting black voters.
Trump’s claim to black job growth during his term in office — besting what President Obama did in eight years — is simply laughable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2018 that black Americans gained 700,000 jobs under Trump, while under Obama’s two terms they gained 2.8 million.
As far as arguing that Democrats have taken blacks for granted, I believe it’s the other way around. We black Americans take for granted that Democrats are less racist than Republicans. Trump’s insulting remarks about black people — “look at my African American over there,” “s---hole countries,” telling congresswomen to “go back” from where they came — showcase the racism infecting the Republican Party. And, of course, his comments about “very fine people on both sides,” when referring to white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va.
Moreover, “being taken for granted” is an emotional appeal since no one likes to feel used.
Politics is a transactional endeavor — do something for me, I’ll do something for you. Black voters concerned about being taken for granted need only ask which candidate provides a better opportunity for a seat at the table.
Count the persons of color in any photo of Trump’s Cabinet and closest advisors for a sense of whether black Americans have a seat at the table in his administration from where they can demand transactions that favor communities of color.
I’m less concerned about the approximately 10% of black voters snookered by Trump than I am by the 90% who are not. The majority of black voters, particularly young black voters, are susceptible to a new kind of political fraud. Take the case of Black Lives Matter activists, composed primarily of young black Americans of voting age.