Opinion: Trump is Almost Right. He’ll Get ‘95 percent’ of Black Voters — Voting Against Him.

Trump is Almost Right. He’ll Get ‘95 percent’ of Black Voters — Voting Against Him.

If there was any doubt left, the last few weeks have erased it.

Theodore R. Johnson | The Washington Post

In 2016, candidate Donald Trump declared that if he became president, “at the end of four years,” when he ran for re-election, “I guarantee you that I will get over 95 percent of the African American vote.”

Given his performance to date, he’ll likely need to add this small corrective: “to vote against me.”            

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Trump had referred to nations in Africa as “shithole countries,” contrasting immigrants from that continent, and from Haiti, with what he presumably sees as more desirable immigrants from countries such as Norway.

Then on Monday, he appeared to use Martin Luther King Jr. Day for damage control, lauding King’s dream of “a world where people are judged by who they are, not how they look or where they come from” in his weekly address.

On Tuesday, Trump patted himself on the back, tweeting that recent poll results showed “Trump approval ratings with Black Americans has doubled.” But as The Post’s Philip Bump explained, that’s inaccurate. Rather, he has a 4 percent approval rating among black voters in a new Quinnipiac poll and, according to Gallup, has tumbled from 15 percent approval among black voters a year ago to 6 percent now. That’s after being elected with 8 percent of the black vote.

Earlier this month, Trump disbanded his administration’s dubious voter fraud commission and a day later called for stricter voter identification laws, some of which “target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” as a federal court concluded in a case from North Carolina.

And all month long, the president has taken credit for the black unemployment rate, currently at a historically low 6.8 percent, conveniently failing to note that it’s still far higher than the white unemployment rate, just as it has been for decades.

We used to count black Americans as 3/5 of a person. For reparations, give them 5/3 of a vote.

When the 2020 campaign rolls around, no doubt Trump will recycle all those claims. But where the president really excels is in compelling black voters to turn out to defeat Republican candidates.

So far, the Trump presidency has helped drive black support for Democratic candidates in Virginia’s gubernatorial race and Alabama’s senatorial race — the two races watched nationally for signs of how the politics of Trumpism is playing — and it was evident that black Americans were motivated to turn out in higher than typical numbers to deliver the president high-profile losses.

Trump has been better at generating black support for the Democratic Party than the Republicans’ own candidates or platform. As The Post reported, black voters in Alabama saw GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore as “the local Trump.”

They voted specifically to keep him from winning, not out of enthusiasm for his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. One black Alabamian told the Atlantic that black voters turned out to reject “Trump and the resurgence of this white conservative overtly racist rhetoric. We can see it.  . . . And you don’t have any choice but to beat that back.”

Following the 2016 presidential election, where black turnout declined for the first time since 1996, conventional wisdom tabbed white working-class voters as the nation’s most treasured voting bloc.

With former president Barack Obama no longer at the top of the ticket, the thinking went, black voter turnout couldn’t be expected to remain exceptionally high. As FiveThirtyEight’s Patrick Ruffini hypothesized, “Lower black turnout in 2016 might be explained as a reversion to the mean” after “historic turnout” for Obama.

But then the Trump presidency settled in. By the time summer was in full swing, black Americans felt the shift into familiar Trump territory. There was his Charlottesville fail, his national anthem pandering and his botched condolence call to Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson.

African Americans immediately recognized the pattern. Those lamentable episodes recalled Trump’s haranguing of the “Central Park Five” and his birther claims against the first black president. But now Trump was in the White House. Black citizens have dealt with this sort of thing for centuries from all corners of society, but history shows that racial animus in a sitting American president is especially ominous.

This is a hard lesson black Americans learned almost immediately after Emancipation when President Andrew Johnson’s personal racism undermined Reconstruction from the outset, and, with it, hope of realizing racial equality.

So when it was time to return to the polls, black folks showed up.

In Virginia, Trump’s endorsement of Republican Ed Gillespie and the candidate’s stance on Confederate monuments ignited black solidarity in opposition. Democrat Ralph Northam won the governorship, and a surge in black voter turnout was a key component of his victory. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie noted, black Virginians were strongly anti-Trump and turned out to vote against him.

In Alabama, Trump’s endorsement of Moore, an accused child molester, served as a call to action for black voters, in no small part because of comments Moore made in 2011 expressing disdain for the constitutional amendments that abolished slavery, affirmed black Americans’ citizenship and extended the franchise. When Moore fondly reminisced about the slavery era as a time when black families were “united,” that was the last straw. Black voters put Democrat Doug Jones over the top in a tight contest.

For many black Americans in these states, their votes hinged less on specific policy concerns and more on the necessity of protecting their dignity and civil rights. As one black voter told The Post’s Eugene Scott:

“I don’t support Jones or his liberal apologist campaign, I voted for him because my community needed me to do so due to the extremely terrible circumstances we’re up against. … Much of [Moore’s] campaign was insulting to black people and pandered to white bigotry.”

When Trump boasts about his effect on black voters, the instinct is partly right:

Black voters certainly respond to him. But the response is one of indignation, not admiration.

His first year in office has brought to the surface some of the worst impulses of our nation’s history and behavior. Black voters will be motivated in 2018 and 2020 to cast votes against him and, by extension, his party. And Trump will have no one but himself to blame.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On January 23, 2018 at 11:26 am

  • kamtanblog  On January 23, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    But hey …if he looses it will be others fault….if big IF he wins it’s his doing.

    The isenile demented imbercile aka dotard and moron is also delusional !


    • Ali  On January 23, 2018 at 8:02 pm

      Mitch McConnell is a rat just like his boss.

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