Democrats spent the weeks before the 2020 election ridiculing black men considering voting for President Trump as sellouts who could derail Joe Biden’s presidential bid. Biden himself said as much with his “you ain’t black” comment.
Some Biden supporters went even further. One professor claimed black men just wanted proximity to the patriarchy and power structures white men have maintained for generations. Once the media announced Biden crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold, the left’s approach changed from proactive intimidation to a retrospective explanation for the fact that exit polls indicated 19 percent of black men voted for Donald Trump.
One Democratic candidate for Congress said one in five black men voted for Trump because “they hate Black women.” The same outlets that declared white Trump voters in 2016 were misinformed, ignorant racists claimed black Trump voters—including the 9 percent of black women who voted for him—were self-loathing victims of “disinformation” campaigns.
Former President Barack Obama joined the chorus in a recent interview with The Atlantic. His entire analysis of the increase in black male support for Trump was that black men were attracted to “the bling, the women, and the money” that characterize both Trump’s public persona and hip hop culture. Hearing such a simplistic and dismissive explanation from someone as politically savvy as Obama was disappointing but terribly predictable. Therein lies the problem.
Today’s Democratic Party relies more on marshaling votes based on identity rather than ideas. That clearly didn’t work for many black men.
Stop Treating Black Voters Like We’re Stupid
Some black men may have been influenced by rappers who publicly endorsed Trump, but it is deeply insulting to assume black men in general are less attuned to their own political interests than any other group is.
One of those interests is public safety. Democrats can’t make the case for why the black father whose one-year-old son was fatally shot in the chest should be in favor of defunding the police. This tragedy is no anomaly. More than 400 children have been killed in street violence all across the country in 2020, and large cities have seen significant increases in shootings and homicides compared to last year.
Democrats have convinced black residents in the cities with the highest rate of violent crime—almost all run by Democrats—that they should be more afraid of the Boogaloo Boys than the Bloods and the Crips. It’s not hard to imagine some black voters being skeptical of such an obvious reality inversion.
Black fathers also care about their children getting a quality education. President Obama hasn’t made the case for why low-income black students shouldn’t have the same types of education options as his children. In 2008, he stated he was enrolling his daughters in private school because DC Public Schools weren’t going to meet their educational needs.
Yet one of the first things he did upon entering the presidency was attempt to defund the program poor DC families use to give their children access to private schools. With an average voucher of $9,531, the grant is less than one half of what DC’s traditional public schools spend per student and one-quarter of the tuition of Sidwell Friends, the school the Obama girls attended.
President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos increased funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program and publicly support charter school expansion. In contrast, Biden has pledged to eliminate the voucher program once in office and his supporters in the National Education Association oppose charter schools that are extremely popular with black parents.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza can’t go into a black barbershop in Atlanta and satisfactorily explain why the men there should support her organization that is committed to “disrupting” the nuclear family. Asking that question, as well as why BLM removed the language from their website, would seem like a natural response to an organization that claims to care about the lives of black people.
Garza also can’t explain why a dad who coaches his daughter’s track team should get behind the Equality Act—a bill Biden has pledged to sign—which would allow a biological male who identifies as a girl to compete against his daughter at a high school track event where awards and college scholarships are on the line. When Flo-Jo, the fastest woman in history, posts a world record in the 100-meter dash that wouldn’t even land her among the top 6,000 men’s times, I think any father has a right to question the impact this law would have on fairness in girls’ sports.
Earn Our Votes, Don’t Just Assume Them
The pitch to black voters from Biden’s surrogates was straightforward: “You may not be excited about him, but we need to get Trump out first and get to policy specifics later.” For a certain segment of black voters, that wasn’t enough.
Some black voters have always been conservative but others considered Trump’s record on the pre-COVID economy and other important issues more important than his tweets, brash persona, and frequent accusations of racism. That is why conservatives should treat black voters like people—rational individuals with deeply held values and specific interests—not indistinguishable components of an amorphous melanated blob.
That doesn’t mean Republicans should run from issues involving race. Leftists incorrectly attribute disparities in social and economic outcomes to systemic racism, but there should be substantive conservative responses to allegations of racial arrest quotas in New York City and unconstitutional stops and searches in poor black neighborhoods in Baltimore. Failure to do so will embolden Democratic politicians to continue their attempts to whip voters in the booth the same way they whip votes in Congress.
A smart, self-interested Democratic Party would ask itself whether Trump’s increase in non-white support may indicate a larger trend underway. Unfortunately, the party’s intellectual wing and its allies in corporate media are among the most incurious and condescending people in this country.
If self-hatred and selfishness are the best explanations party operatives can come up with, they’ll get even less of the black male vote the next election cycle. Instead, they should take time to explain to black voters why Democrats think government bureaucrats and special interest groups should have more influence on where children go to school than their parents do.
They should also have to explain why celebrities and multi-millionaire donors living in gated communities support paying bail for violent criminals who go back to terrorize working-class neighborhoods. And the ultimate question is why the party that claims to oppose all systemic racism and value black lives vigorously promotes abortion policies that disproportionately reduce the black population—a goal shared by today’s white nationalists as well as Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizards of the past.
All of these questions deserve honest, thoughtful responses, not empty platitudes and predictable euphemisms. The lack of answers to this point shows that black men don’t need to defend their choices. Democrats need to defend their ideas.