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Thursday, April 11, 2024

I told you so

More by this author

The more things change

More than just talk

Truly astronomical

Larry Smith

For the last few years, I have been sounding the alarm that the Democratic Party neither understands nor values Black men. Party leaders just don’t “get” Black men socio-culturally; they cannot seem to grasp that we are a distinct group within the Democratic coalition and that we have distinct wants and needs. That is the sad reality both at the national level and at the local level in many areas of the country.  

Further, the Democratic Party does not value Black men specifically, which isn’t surprising given that they do not value Black folks generally. They take us for granted because we’re the most dependable voting bloc for them and are nearly always unwilling to vote Republican given that party’s refusal to address its racism. Apparently, that is beginning to change.

Several recent polls suggest that a substantial portion of African Americans are supporting Donald Trump for president. For example, a recent survey from GenForward found that 17 percent of African Americans said that they would vote for Trump over Biden. These numbers, which track with surveys from The New York Times and from Axios, would have been unthinkable in the recent past. Black men are the primary drivers of this political sea change. In fact, Trump’s support from Black men has successively increased in each of his campaigns.

Crucially, 20 percent of Black respondents in the GenForward survey said that they would vote for someone other than Trump or Biden. Further, roughly 75 percent of Black voters planned to cast a ballot, which was 10 points lower than the percentage of white voters who planned to vote.

Unfortunately, many Democrats will consider these polls to be “fake news”, or at least will see them as less than predictive. In their smugness – which often tips into arrogance – they cannot fathom that more than a miniscule number of Black men would actually vote for someone who is as execrable, dishonest, and racist as Donald Trump. Holding that viewpoint is a grave mistake.

Most Democratic leaders believe that Trump’s racism is enough to deter the vast majority of Black voters. While that was the case during his first presidential run in 2016, it is much less likely today. Of course, this phenomenon is not limited to Blacks. Some polls show that a third or more of Hispanic voters support the former president – despite (or, sometimes, because of) his extreme anti-immigration stances. While most Blacks and Hispanics acknowledge the ongoing problem of racism in America, smaller numbers of them are voting primarily on that basis.

I had hoped that the advent of Jaime Harrison as head of the Democratic National Committee would herald a new era; that hope has been dashed. When it comes to catering to Black men, the DNC has more fumbles than Dak Prescott. Indeed, if it were not for Black women, the Democrats would be even more hapless. Black women appear to care more than Black men do about the imminent danger that Donald Trump possess to this nation. They are also willing to act in accordance with that knowledge. Will their support be the deciding factor in this election? Time will tell.

I believe that this year represents the most consequential American presidential election since 1860. It is not hyperbolic to suggest that our democracy is at stake. I take Donald Trump at his word when he talks about locking up his political enemies, not to mention his other totalitarian threats. Unfortunately, I have my doubts as to whether that will be enough to convince Trump-leaning African Americans to vote for President Biden.  

In 1787, well-connected socialite Elizabeth Willing Powell asked Benjamin Franklin whether America was a republic or a monarchy. Franklin responded soberly, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Franklin was fully aware of the cascading tensions that incessantly tore at the nation’s fabric. African Americans have always been the reluctant social seamstresses who have kept America from destroying itself. Or, more specifically, we have kept white Americans from re-creating the seemingly illimitable and intractable European tendency to annihilate each other (our Civil War notwithstanding).

If President Biden loses this election, which seems to be an even bet at this point, it will be despite Donald Trump’s ridiculous antics. People in every corner of the globe should have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice, even if that candidate is someone as reprehensible as Trump. Yet, the fact remains that a Biden loss would rest heavily on the shoulders of those who control the Democratic Party.

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