If Black Voters Abandon Biden, What Will They Get Instead?
Should Donald Trump win the presidency in November, he will probably owe his victory to Black and Hispanic voters. If that prediction startles you, then perhaps you haven't been reading the most recent polls. Trump is maintaining a small but persistent lead over President Joe Biden in national averages — and the apparent reason is that those minority voters, who voted overwhelmingly Democratic in 2020, show much less enthusiasm for Biden in this election.
Waning support for the incumbent among his own partisan base appears to cross racial, generational and geographic lines, with many asking whether he should have stepped aside by now. Others blame him for inflation, although prices spiked across the developed world after the pandemic. But the dramatic decline in Black support for Biden is deeply puzzling — especially when the only alternative is returning Trump to power.
Exactly how Biden has disappointed those voters remains mysterious, given his own political history and behavior. He was the loyal vice president of America's first Black president and chose a Black woman as his running mate. He has named many Black appointees to top positions in government, including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Other than Barack Obama, he is the most outspoken opponent of white supremacy ever to occupy the Oval Office.None of that appears to have made any impression on a substantial segment of Black voters, however, especially among the youngest — whose alienation is now growing because of Biden's support for Israel in Gaza. (One wonders what they, or anyone planning to abandon the Democrats over that conflict, believe Trump would have done or will do in such circumstances.)
But let's ask the question a different way and forget about Biden for a moment. What would happen to Black America — and other minorities in this country — if Trump regains power in 2025?
Begin by glancing back to the time when Trump entered presidential politics, even before he came down the escalator in his gilded tower to slander Mexicans as rapists and murderers. He first signaled those ambitions with his conspiratorial campaign claiming that Obama was not a native-born citizen, and therefore ineligible to be president, but a secret immigrant from Kenya. It was a big lie, the precursor of many more to come, culminating in the very Big Lie that the 2020 election had been "rigged" against him. And it was a racist falsehood, calculated to evoke the ugliest kind of hostility among the Tea Party Republicans who later swarmed into Trump's MAGA cult.
Since then, Trump has demonstrated repeatedly how he uses racial tension to promote himself and his politics. It is a habit that recalls his aggressive campaign to execute the since-exonerated Central Park Five, young Black men falsely accused of a gang rape, and continues today when he ridiculously proclaims that he could have "negotiated" the Civil War, a conflict over human bondage that was not subject to compromise.
The future that a Trump presidency would portend is bleak indeed for a diverse and multicultural democracy whose citizens hope to move forward together, not backward in division. Turning Point USA, the MAGA "youth wing," will mark Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday this month with an expensive campaign to demonize him and to persuade Americans that the landmark civil rights legislation he helped to win was "a huge mistake," according to its leader Charlie Kirk.
Kirk has used his organization and his close connection with Trump to enrich himself and his cronies, but that is hardly the worst of his offenses. His forthcoming crusade to roll back civil rights will be overseen by someone named Blake Neff, a Turning Point staffer who once worked on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show — until the exposure of his voluminous racist and misogynist online messaging. Try to imagine how bad those had to be for a Fox executive who described them as "abhorrent" when the network announced Neff's dismissal.That the Trump movement would aspire to repeal the Civil Rights Act, after everything their leader has done to undermine the rights of minorities and women, shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention. "Make America Great Again" always carried a dubious undertone, loudly hinting this county was better when we lived under the stale hierarchies of a bygone century.
Come November there will be only one effective way to reject that mentality and its implications for us and our children. No American of good will, regardless of race, creed or color, should harbor any illusions otherwise.
Joe Conason is editor-in-chief of The National Memo and editor-at-large of Type Investigations. He is a bestselling author whose next book,The Longest Con: How Grifters, Swindlers, and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism, will be published in 2024.
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