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Sunday, June 16, 2024

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Larry Smith

It’s no secret that Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson is multi-talented. Having begun his career as a phenomenally successful rapper, Jackson has since made a name for himself as an actor, producer, and businessman. He also has a legendary side hustle… as the quintessential social media troll. (Just ask Sean “Diddy” Combs.) Speaking of which, Jackson recently caused a stir after weighing in on the 2024 election. Multiple headlines quoted his recent declaration that “Maybe Trump is the Answer”.  

That clickbait headline led millions of people to view the now deleted Instagram post. Sans emojis, the quote in its entirety read, “WTF mayor Adams call my phone, I don’t understand how this works somebody explain. @arimelber can’t explain this I’m stuck maybe TRUMP is the answer.” (Note: The post referenced Ari Melber, who is chief legal correspondent for MSNBC.)

Jackson was responding to New York Mayor Eric Adams’ new program that offers pre-paid credit cards to migrants who entered the U.S. illegally, allowing them to buy food or other essential items. The maximum amount of money available is $1,000 for a family of four, with potential renewals every 28 days. Applicants must sign an affidavit stating that they will use the card only for its intended purpose. The total cost of the program is projected to be $53 million.

The broader context of Jackson’s tiny tirade offers an interesting backstory. Expressing dismay at then-candidate Joe Biden’s tax plan, Jackson briefly “endorsed” Trump (also on Instagram) ahead of the 2020 election: “WHAT THE F—! (VOTE ForTRUMP) IM OUT. F— NEW YORK The KNICKS never win anyway. I don’t care Trump doesn’t like black people 62% are you out of ya f—— mind.” Jackson recanted his support a few days later.

Given his wealth, it’s not noteworthy that Jackson took offense at Biden’s tax proposal. What is noteworthy is the fact that his 2020 expression of support for Donald Trump included the line, “I don’t care (that) Trump doesn’t like black people…” Polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of African Americans believe that Trump is a racist. Still, based upon my non-scientific surveying, I think that a non-trivial number of Black folks are considering voting for Trump this year despite his history of racist rhetoric and actions.

Low income and middle-class people of all races would be going against their own economic interests by voting for Trump. For example, he and his MAGA proxies strongly oppose the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which acts precisely in accordance with the mission that its name indicates. Moreover, Trump’s tax cuts harm the middle class by saddling future generations with trillions of dollars of debt. Yet, millions of people on the lower end of the economic spectrum believe that their bank accounts would be better off with him in the White House as compared to President Biden.

The fact that the U.S. economy is experiencing extremely low unemployment, lower inflation, and a record stock market doesn’t seem to matter these days. This is in part due to the endless and increasingly vitriolic culture wars, the actual war between Israel and Hamas, and a host of other issues, including Tucker Carlson and Marjorie Taylor Greene fighting for the right of people to poison themselves with Zyn. (Greene has even called for a “Zynsurrection”.)

Of course, immigration is perhaps the most important battleground between Democrats and Republicans at the moment. Indeed, it has become a major problem for Democrats in general – and for President Biden in particular. Despite Trump’s insistence that illegal immigration is the problem, with his acolyte Stephen Miller waiting in the wings, even legal immigration would be in jeopardy if he returned to the Oval Office. This is despite the fact that more immigration could go a long way to help close the gap between our 9.5 million open jobs verses only 6.5 million unemployed Americans. Thus, given Jackson’s claim that Trump could be the “answer”, one has to wonder what the question is.

To be clear, entertainers have every right to express their political opinions – and should do so without fear of reprisal (in the vast majority of cases). However, they also have a responsibility to be factual and reasonable given their outsized platform. In the end, Jackson will be fine no matter who wins the presidential election. By contrast, many of those who heed his now-deleted advice won’t be if Trump wins. As is often the case, the man whose nickname references two quarters has an opinion that is worth about two pence.

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