Black Voters’ Dangerous Dance with Trump 2.0

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By Sikivu Hutchinson on Medium

Word to Black voters seduced by Trump — he thinks you come from sh — thole nations, is itching to deport you, and believes Black men are wild criminals who deserve the death penalty. Unfortunately, these tip of the iceberg atrocities haven’t swayed some gullible Negroes. If early swing state polls are to be believed, the nation is hurtling full speed ahead toward a second Trump administration and Black voters are playing a key role. According to the New York Times, after surveying 2500 voters, “A Democratic advisory group…found that voters in the Democratic base of ‘Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, LGBTQ+ community, Gen Z, millennials, unmarried and college women give Trump higher approval ratings than Biden.’” Further, “Black voters are more disconnected from the Democratic Party than they have been in decades, frustrated with what many see as inaction on their political priorities and unhappy with President Biden, a candidate they helped lift to the White House just three years ago.” Most alarmingly, “22 percent of Black voters in six of the most important battleground states said they would support former President Donald J. Trump in next year’s election…(while) 71 percent would back Mr. Biden.”

Even taking into consideration the notorious unreliability of early polls, these numbers are jaw dropping, terrifying, and enraging. Trump’s swaggering anti-Blackness, white supremacist outbursts, and fascist policies on everything from racial justice, policing, abortion rights, climate change, job creation, public education, student loan forgiveness, and anti-poverty programs would obliterate any modicum of socioeconomic gains that African Americans and people of color have achieved. Case in point, Black poverty rates are at approximately 22% in the U.S. The 2021 Child Tax Credit, which was implemented under the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, cut poverty to 5.2%. Nonetheless, the GOP and right wing Democrat Joe Manchin voted against renewing it, and the poverty rate shot up again in 2022. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “The poverty rate for children more than doubled from a historic low of 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022, erasing all of the record gains made against child poverty over the previous two years. Progress made in 2021 in narrowing the glaring differences between the poverty rates of Black and Latino children compared to white children was largely reversed.” Earlier this year, unemployment rates among Black workers fell to historic lows, narrowing the racial gap between white and Black workers to 1.8% (Black unemployment rates have since risen again).

This is not to cosign Biden, nor to excuse the rank imperialism, militarism, and neoliberalism of his administration. The Biden administration’s bankrolling of Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza and the Palestinians is an odious human rights violation which has further eroded progressive Democratic support. On the domestic front, faced with rising consumer prices, mounting debt, erosion of Black generational wealth, and skyrocketing rates of Black homelessness, many African American voters are disgruntled with the administration’s piecemeal efforts to reddress these disparities. But Biden has shown no willingness to step down to make way for a younger successor. And the likelihood that a viable one could be drafted at this stage in the game is slim to none.

The reality is, a second Trump administration would be apocalyptic for Black folks and people of color. Trump has already promised to reinstate his 2017 Muslim ban executive order, institute mandatory deportations, repeal the 14th amendment guaranteeing birthright citizenship (which was instituted to confer citizenship on enslaved African Americans), and permanently hijack the Supreme Court and lower federal courts by packing them with Christian fascist Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett clones who will torch the last remnants of constitutional protections for vulnerable communities.

In addition, last week, one of Trump’s lackeys announced that Trump 2.0 would launch a no holds barred Justice Department assault on members of the press who “helped Biden rig the election”. Trump’s threats underscore how Tea Party era anti-immigrant fear-mongering and white nationalism have come full circle in a nation where his supporters gleefully lap up his lies, villainy, and corruption and beg for more. In this please-pee-on-us-and-call-it-rain scenario, Trump, as he predicted years ago, has become impervious to legal challenges, impeachments, indictments or public shaming. At this historical juncture, the sad, insane but naked truth is that (barring a viable alternative) Biden’s reelection is the only thing that stands between democratic civil liberties and civil rights and a complete descent into fascist rule.

Yet, the seeds of Biden’s slide with African Americans are also exemplified by the moral conservatism of some Black voters. Black viewpoints on LGBTQ+ rights are one bellwether. A Black woman voter who was polled in the Times survey stated that, “Biden has not followed through on his campaign promises on immigration (and she) worries that Democrats have gone too far in their embrace of L.G.B.T.Q. issues (while) faulting them for books used in public education that she believes are too sexually explicit.” Similarly, in a recent L.A. Times article, columnist Mike Madrid frames the erosion of Democratic support among Latino voters along demographic and ideological lines. As immigration from Spanish-speaking countries declines, native born Latino constituents are less likely to identify with the liberal-centrist issues that define the Democratic Party’s base. According to Madrid, this demographic has moved “away from the aggrieved immigrant narrative favored by Democrats and toward an assimilating, working-class identity that mirrors its non-Latino counterparts.” Madrid’s supposition that Latinos are rejecting the Democrats’ “grievance-based” politics downplays the continued relevance of social and economic justice in a nation in which approximately 17% of Latinos are at the poverty line and face significant institutional racism and discrimination in every sector. And, while Latinos are more likely to share the religious conservatism of white evangelicals, they are also able to claim white identity on legal forms — a privilege that Black folks don’t have.

Indeed, Black folks’ drift to Trump is downright suicidal, given the high stakes. What, exactly, do Black Trumpites see him delivering to Black communities, other than trickle down Reaganomics on steroids, the complete destruction of anything resembling equity in the public sphere, and the gutting of social welfare, health care, infrastructure, and educational policies that have historically provided redress to communities of color? An old Twilight Zone episode chillingly illustrates Black fascination with Trump. In the episode, the devil, disguised as an innocuous looking everyman, is locked up in a monastery. Despite the warnings of the monks, a visiting traveler releases him after he sweet talks the man into believing he’s been unjustly imprisoned. Mayhem ensues, and the visitor, mired in regret, spends his entire life trying to hunt down and trap Satan for good. This is a piker’s analogy for what the potential “resurrection” and liberation of Trump, on the watch of a disaffected and amnesiac electorate, would do for the nation and the globe.

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