The Left hates Donald Trump, but nothing has inspired more invective than his outreach to the black community. It’s like he has barged into an exclusive club wearing the wrong color shoes.
In a recent column in The New York Times, Charles Blow sounds positively unhinged by Trump’s overture to African-Americans, writing a hate-filled screed that calls the GOP candidate a bigot, a reprobate, and a charlatan whose soul is “dark” and who is “a prime example of the worst of humanity.” And that’s just in the opening paragraphs.
Blow is not alone. CBS cut off the video feed of Trump being warmly received by congregants at a black church in Detroit with on-camera voices suggesting censorship. A Huffington Post attendee wrote a balanced piece noting that Trump had impressed some (but not all) churchgoers; the editors were so alarmed they added this postscript:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
Others have piled on as well, charging that Trump’s appearances before black audiences are a con, a thinly-disguised effort to appeal to more moderate white voters. In other words, they claim he’s going to black churches to speak to white voters.
The irony is, of course, that Trump was excoriated by many of the same voices for not talking to blacks. It appears he can’t win. Or, maybe the possibility that he could win is driving critics mad. Recent polls show the race tightening as more voters question Hillary Clinton’s honesty; the political and media elites simply cannot imagine the untutored and provocative Donald Trump becoming president.
That’s not the only reason for their outrage, however. Liberals quake at Trump’s best campaign line to date, directed at African-Americans – “What the Hell do you have to lose?” Many blacks might ask themselves the same question.
What, after all, does Hillary Clinton offer the black community? Does she promise to make our public schools better by demanding greater teacher accountability? Will she push to reverse decades of damage done by tenure and other rules that put union workers first and kids second? Does she promise to expand charter schools, so those tens of thousands of wait-listed African-American kids get a shot at the American dream? No, she does not. Hillary owes the teachers’ unions, which promise to get out the vote and which have donated millions to her campaign.
Does Hillary promise to secure our borders and reduce the number of illegal immigrants vying for entry-level jobs? Does she embrace the new “gig” economy that attempts to circumvent the morass of red tape driving so many small businesses under? Does she back the law enforcement efforts that keep low-income urban communities safe? The answers are a uniform “no.”
What Hillary Clinton offers African-Americans is four more years of Obama’s policies, which Sean “Diddy” Combs, among others, have rightly described as failing the black community. Combs recently said that under Obama, blacks have been “a little bit short-changed” and that African-Americans should not automatically line up behind Clinton. “Hillary Clinton, you know, I hope she starts to talk to the black community directly. … It really makes me feel, you know, almost hurt that our issues are not addressed, and we’re such a big part of the voting bloc.” Combs has recently opened a charter school in Harlem; no wonder he’s not a Hillary fan.
Clinton and others on the Left have scorned Trump’s bleak portrayal of the African-American community. They have pointed out that there are many successful blacks, an updated version of “a lot of my friends are black.” It is true, of course. But don’t jump on those who think blacks are not doing well. Liberals – including President Obama -- have spent years telling the country that African-Americans are oppressed, underprivileged, discriminated against and left behind. When Trump echoes those descriptions, they have only themselves to blame.
Remember President Obama in 2009 telling the NAACP that “African-Americans are out of work more than just about anybody else” and that they “are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anybody else.” He said, “An African-American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a prison” and that AIDS disproportionately hit blacks. He claimed “the pain of discrimination is still felt in America,” that black kids lagged behind in school and over half are dropping out.
Ironically, Obama at the time was an active champion of charter schools, noting the great success of Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, and of education reform. Sadly, that was in 2009, before the teacher's unions warned him that his efforts to hold teachers accountable would cost him their support in 2012. That was the end of school reform; it was an unforgivable surrender.
Here’s what’s really going on. Hillary Clinton needs black votes to win the presidency. Obama won the 2012 election because black voter turnout (66.2 percent) was higher than whites’ (64.1 percent) for the first time in U.S. history. African-Americans cast some 12 percent of all votes, up from 11.8 percent in 2008. By comparison, the portion of votes cast by whites declined to 71.1 percent from 73.4 percent. That made the difference.
Clinton’s past embrace of husband Bill’s 1994 crime bill concerns some African-Americans who say that legislation lead to mass incarceration of blacks. Her description of black criminals as “Super-Predators” also counts against her. Sure, blacks poll in her favor. But the trick is getting them out to vote, and therein is why liberals are so anxious about Trump’s outreach to African-Americans. The high turnout from blacks is a recent phenomenon and is due to the popularity of Obama. In 2004, only 60 percent of eligible blacks voted.
Trump doesn’t need blacks to vote for him. He just needs them to wonder why they should vote for Hillary, and to stay home.