By Sylvester Brown, Jr.
I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a loyal Democratic supporter. My ideology leans left but I have been a constant critic of how the party takes blacks for granted. My major complaint, however, isn’t against the party, it’s aimed at black leaders who don’t do the hard work of drafting an agenda or demanding that their party adopt and enforce it.
I level the same charge at black republicans and more directly at black Trump supporters. I respect black republicans like former National Security Advisor, Colin Powell and former RNC chairman, Michael Steele. It’s the cadre of clowns like Candace Owens, Rev. Darrell C. Scott and vloggers “Diamond and Silk” that get on my very last nerve. They rant on and on about how the Democratic party has destroyed the black community but never, ever outline how the Republican party is a better alternative.
These opportunistic buffoons seem oh-so-happy just to be in the White House, receive Trump’s praise, or to get their faces on news programs. They claim that Trump, who inherited a rebounding economy from Obama has been the best president ever for black people. Never mind that Trump’s biggest economic accomplishment-the fat tax cut he gave to the rich, white, and privileged-did very little for the average black person and, really, exploded the deficit.
So, here’s my message to the Black Trumpsters:
“Now is your time. Do something!”
Black people are not stupid, monolithic, or naïve. Factcheck.org gives a good chronological breakdown of black voting patterns from the Civil War up to and beyond the early 20th Century. Summarizing; blacks have voted for the party that they think serves their best interests-period/dot.
In the late 1800s, blacks who could, voted Republican because it was the party of Abraham Lincoln, the “great emancipator.” Many aligned their “freedom” with Lincoln’s political party. Before Lincoln, blacks who mostly lived in the South, weren’t allowed to vote at all. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome them. In fact, it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even allowed to attend Democratic conventions.
Their loyalties started shifting in 1936, with the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt who received 71 percent of the black vote and almost as much in his second term. Why? Because blacks felt Roosevelt’s “New Deal” initiatives, that included relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression served their interests as well as whites.
In 1948, Democrat Harry Truman won 77 percent of the black vote in his second term. Why? Mostly because Truman desegregated the armed services and issued an executive order mandating regulation against racial bias in federal employment.
Still, Republican nominees after Truman managed to get a respectable slice of the black vote. As Factcheck.org notes, Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon, who lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960, got 32 percent of the black vote.
The wholesale swing to the left happened in 1964, with the election of Democratic candidate Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time, blacks were fighting to vote, to end racial tyranny (like lynching), to achieve equal employment and other basic rights. Johnson’s Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed his landmark Civil Rights Act which outlawed segregation in public places. In response, blacks awarded Johnson 94 percent of their vote, a record unmatched to date for any presidential election.
No Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since. In 2016, Trump only received about eight percent of their vote.
|Avid Trump supporters loggers “Diamond and Silk”|
These examples refute the arguments of those like Owens who claim blacks blindly support democrats at their own detriment. This is foolishness on several levels.
First, the major deterrent to black lives, livelihoods and accomplishments is historic, systemized racism. That’s a white thing not a GOP or Dem thing. Secondly, the record shows that black political loyalty is based on the belief that democrats will do less harm to them than republicans.
Cut the bull, black Trumpsters! This is the real obstacle you face. If you’re serious about securing black votes, you must abandon the “Democrats Destroyed Back Communities” hyperbole and articulate a plan that serves their best social, health, educational and economic interests. What’s more, you must force your party to adopt, publicly promote and legislate your agenda. Stop giving them a pass!
I feel uneasy offering this advice. Mostly because it’s so easy to do and it would be a definite gain the GOP. My loyalties, however, belong to my people, not to any party. And this is sage advice for black democratic leaders, too.
Yeah, Joe Biden is pushing his “plan for African Americans. But I’ve seen no evidence that his people went out and got input or sign-off from civil rights groups, reparation scholars, grassroots organizations, young blacks, rappers, entertainers or nonprofit leaders doing the hard work in black neighborhoods. The plan seems knee jerky, gimmicky and conveniently timed to appease black people before a major election.
Today, the Trumpsters have the opportunity to say, “Listen, black democrats have failed to come up with a plan that addresses our concerns. They have failed to force their party to act. We black republicans, on the other hand, have a plan and our party is at the ready to implement it across the country.”
Note the operative word here is “plan.” Black leaders-Left and Right-must do the hard work of developing and promoting their own collective agenda. We must cease and desist with begging whites to come up with “a plan” for us.
Personally, I think it’s too late for any overwhelming black Trump support. In a recent CNN poll, 79% of black respondents said the federal government had done a “bad job” in its attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, blacks who are disproportionately impacted by the virus, can now answer Trump’s 2016 question, “What do you have to lose?” with a resounding: “Our very lives!”
Right now, many black voters consider Trump to be an unqualified, ill-informed, unreliable, and racially divisive leader. Black Trumpers will have one helluva job reversing that sentiment before November with simplistic oratory.
Perhaps my message is for the post-Trump era. Covid 19 and the senseless police killings of unarmed black people have left African Americans traumatized, economically weary and emotionally spent. So, Black Trump supporters, if you want to be a serious contingent in wooing blacks back to the GOP, now is your time.
Forget Trump. You have the chance to come up with a new “New Deal” that assures black folk that maybe, just maybe, your party takes their interests seriously. A new pro-active, informed approach might give you legitimacy beyond 2020.
Therefore, I advise you to cleanse yourselves of the coonery, buffoonery and lunacy typified by Owens and other loud-mouth opportunists. Let history guide you, stop pandering to the whims of racists and do something powerful for your people.
Sylvester Brown, Jr. is a former columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, founder of the Sweet Potato Project, an entrepreneurial program for urban youth and author of “When We Listen: Recognizing the Potential of Urban Youth.”