As an American who is black, I’m supposed to hate Donald Trump. They say he’s a racist demagogue. They say he hates Mexicans. They say he hates women. They say he’s mean. Yes, I’ve heard it all. But I believe that above all the sensationalist name-calling, there is a strong case for black support for Trump.
They say when white people catch a cold, black people get pneumonia. Nothing illustrates this better than the trends of automation, globalization, and immigration, which have left many black people in the dust even while lifting many immigrant groups and other races into the middle class.
Indeed, until about midway through the twentieth century, a black man with only a high school education could earn a good enough living to buy a home and support a family on a single income. Today, that is much more difficult. Research from the nonpartisan, nonprofit policy analysis group Young Invincibles shows that “holding all else equal, an African American male needs some college credit to have a similar probability of employment as a white male high school dropout.” The unemployment rate for black men with only a high school education is 9.6 percent, more than twice as high as the white male rate for that education level.
While the forces of globalization and automation that have contributed to this situation cannot be stopped, some policy solutions warrant consideration.
Bad Economic Policies Especially Hurt Black People
Take illegal immigration. Untold millions entering the United States illegally over the past decades have dramatically increased the size of the labor pool at the low end of the market, harming prospects for wage increases by poor blacks. Indeed, The United States Commission on Civil Rights, in its 2010 report “The Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Wages and Employment Opportunities of Black Workers,” found not only wage suppression effects on black workers due to illegal immigration, but also reduced employment rates, and evidence of racial discrimination against black workers, due to employers perceiving they can pay illegal immigrants less than black workers, among other factors.
One of the report’s contributors, Gordon Hanson, found “a 10 percent immigrant-induced increase in the labor supply is associated with a 4 percent decrease in black wages, a 3.5 percent decrease in the black employment rate, and a 0.8 percent increase in the black incarceration rate.” That’s right, Hanson’s data suggests that even black crime is negatively impacted by illegal immigration, as some black men turn to crime in the absence of jobs.
This implies that a serious attempt to end illegal immigration would benefit not only wages and employment rates for black men, but even crime rates. And there is just one candidate with a policy platform of ending illegal immigration: Donald Trump.
Then there’s globalization. The first types of jobs to be sent overseas are the jobs likely to be done by black workers: factory jobs and other types of unskilled labor. Certainly, job skills, training, and education are a part of the solution and policymakers should pursue them. But if Trump can reduce the regulatory and tax cost of doing business in the United States to make it more attractive for our companies to come back home, it should have a positive effect on black workers by making more jobs available over the long term.
Foreign Competitors Don’t Play Fair
Trump delivers a message focused like a laser on those left behind by globalization. He’s starting the conversation on getting our companies to stop closing down factories and outsourcing. He’s talking about equitable trade policies with our partners such as Japan: even though her cars represent half of the U.S. automobile market, she only allows foreign automakers a 5 percent share of her market.
Then there’s China. It’s well-known that the Chinese government has locked Google out of the country due to censorship and a desire to protect her Internet brands from foreign competition. But a survey the American Chamber of Commerce did in China additionally found rising concerns about protectionism from many other foreign companies operating there. Respondents listed protectionism as a top five concern, negatively affecting their ability to do business in China.
What’s more, the percentage of firms concerned about protectionism and unfair targeting of foreign firms is increasing. Thus, amidst a protectionist Japan and a China systematically increasing barriers to U.S. businesses, only one candidate has a serious message on correcting these imbalances. If accomplished, more equitable trade policies could help U.S. manufacturing, which would in turn help poor white, Hispanic, and black Americans.
Then there’s politics. Despite black Americans giving the Democratic Party 90 percent of their votes every election cycle, many think black interests are being brushed aside while the party bends over backwards to accommodate an ever-increasing list of special interests, leaving its most loyal constituency, black Americans, with nothing but scraps from the table. Can anyone point to a substantive Democratic Party policy paper on black jobs that they’re serious about implementing? (When you find it, I’ll find you a unicorn and a leprechaun.)
Yet Trump’s focus on American workers may be just that. Although not specifically directed towards black workers, it is in fact a black jobs policy. Just as many working-class whites are backing Trump because he is the one fighting for working-class interests, maybe black people should realize that our interests are not that different than those of working-class whites and do the same. For perhaps Trump is speaking for us as well.