On August 18th in North Carolina, Primadonald began what has now become a repeated outreach to African-American (AA) voters. Aiming at this target audience (1), the real estate mogul spoke of how they had been “forgotten…taken for granted…stuck with inferior schools…(and) in danger of being shot on the street where they live”. The candidate promised to cure all those ills and urged AAs for their vote, asking “What the Hell have you got to lose?”
On examination, Primadonald’s “pitch” was (and remains) characterized by nihilism, stereotyping and a not-so-obvious avoidance of any mention of a real problem faced not just by AA’s, but by other groups who tend to lean left. Each of the three features will be dealt with next.
It is one thing to advise a person with an untreatable disease to try an over-the-counter medication in the hope that it might lead to a remission. Really, what would the sick person have to lose? But, it is quite another to seek the vote of any person who you have disparaged, and who would likely experience even worse suffering as a result of policies and advocacy you would undertake if elected, your promises of a better life notwithstanding.
Speaking to the AA community as though they are all trapped in a dystopia is to ignore the years of progress that many members of that group have made in lifting themselves up. Upper- and middle-class AAs don’t live in crime-infested neighborhood where they are at risk of being gunned down. What is more, rather than having been “forgotten”, they may have benefited from minority scholarships and/or small-business grants that were key to their achieving upward mobility.
If Primadonald had been thoughtful, he would directed his call for support exclusively at inner city AAs and other disadvantaged groups as they are the ones who best fit his description of the conditions under which they live (see above), and added some specific ideas on how he would help them. But that sort of nuanced presentation is not the candidate’s forte, choosing as he always does to “paint” with very broad strokes and in the absence of any detail.
Avoidance of a real problem
A real and very basic problem that confronts many AAs and left-leaning groups, involves the roadblocks contrived by Republican legislatures in red states, to make voting difficult. Reference here is to the ending of Sunday voting (3), the reduction in the number of polling stations and voting booths in districts with left-leaning demographics, the demand for multiple forms of voter identification, and the refusal to accept such forms of identification as a student ID card, even if issued by a state institution.
The immediately foregoing considered, the answer to the question “What the Hell have you got to lose?” ought to be “Any chance of eliminating these impediments to voting”. Primadonald could have tackled this matter head-on with a promise to use the full force of the Justice Department to seek through the courts, the mitigating of said impediments, just as the Obama administration has done on a state-by-state basis. (4)
But, for candidate Trump to take such a tack would have guaranteed a rebellion among the ranks of his bigoted, racist supporters. They want those hurdles to voting left in place and have elected local officials to put and keep them there. Anyone proposing otherwise would face some very serious pushback. No surprise then that Primadonald would avoid this matter and ask “What the Hell have you got to lose?” as though the answer is “nothing”, when in fact, it is “plenty”.
- The candidate followed up his North Carolina appeal with another in Ohio, and then with a visit to a predominantly Black church in Detroit.
- Far more often than not, stereotyping is the product of a weak, lazy mind that cannot be bothered to sort out people or events on an individual, case-by-case basis.
- Sunday voting came to be called “Souls to the polls” as a result of AA churches lining up buses to transport congregation members to polling stations after Sunday services.
- Very recently, an appeal by the state of North Carolina to be allowed to re-instate restricting voting practices was rejected by the US Supreme Court.