Donald Trump has embarked on a halfhearted campaign to recruit African American support in 2020. Even a president who shuns reality knows it’s ridiculous for Republicans to spend a lot of energy on Black voters.
And for Trump, it’s worthless.
Perhaps that is why his “Black Voices for Trump” rally in Atlanta on Friday seemed so disingenuous. Maybe that explains why he began his speech with a racial joke, even bungling the name of the group he was there to tout.
What do you prefer, he asked the handful of supporters, “Blacks for Trump” or “African Americans for Trump?” It was condescending and gratuitous.
And it was troubling to see a president make light of what to call the race of minorities who helped build this country.
Just not into Blacks
The event was the latest confirmation that Trump doesn’t give two cents about African Americans. “Black Voices for Trump” is nothing more than a campaign stunt to show moderate White voters who might be on the fence about his re-election that he is not the racist people say he is.
He’s just not that into Black people, and more importantly, he doesn’t understand Black voters.
“We’ve done more for African Americans in three years than the broken Washington establishment has done in 30 years,” he said.
It’s a theme he repeats every time he’s around Black people.
Not only is it patronizing, it’s annoying. And Black people aren’t buying it.
Eighty-one percent of African Americans think Trump has made things worse for people of color, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
He doesn’t get how disrespectful it is to keep telling Black people, “Look at everything I’ve done for you.”
It promotes the stereotype that the Blacks are looking for a handout and their vote can be bought and sold to the highest bidder. It sounds like he’s saying Blacks don’t really deserve to be treated like other Americans, but he has been good to them anyway.
And for that, he seems to think they owe him something.
Sick and tired
There are plenty of reasons Trump garnered only 8% of the Black vote in 2016, and those reasons have only been amplified since he has been in office.
A recent ABC News poll showed Trump with a 7% approval rating among African Americans. Eighty percent of African Americans “strongly” disapprove of him.
When it comes to what they value in America, Black people are no different than the majority of white people. Blacks are just as sick and tired, maybe even more so, of him using race to pit Americans against each other.
Blacks cringe just as much as Whites when they hear about children being separated from their parents at the border.
They gag just as hard when he repeats one of the more than 13,000 lies or misleading claims he has made as president. And like many other Americans, Blacks are convinced that he is corrupt and unfit to hold office.
Still, there were a couple of hundred African Americans who showed up for him in Atlanta.
Turns out, they are no different than his staunchest white supporters — they swallow his Kool-Aid with as much gusto.
It didn’t seem to matter that Trump was spewing lies and exaggerating. This small group of supporters sucked it all up, showering him with chants of “Four more years!” just like the people at his much larger, overwhelmingly white rallies do.
Some Black people, it seems, are tone-deaf too. They don’t care that those chants of “USA!” and “Make America Great Again” are really about turning back the clock and recreating the America that existed when African Americans could be killed for trying to vote.
The good thing, though, is that the majority of African Americans are just as smart as most White Americans when it comes to Trump. They know a lie when they hear it and they can spot a con man when they see him.
Most African Americans tune him out when he brags about lowering the Black unemployment rate. They know that the decline of Black unemployment began under Barack Obama.
If African Americans should thank anyone, it should be Obama for bringing about the most dramatic drop in Black unemployment following the recession that his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, helped create.
On the campaign trail, Trump’s go-to question for Blacks is, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
For most African Americans, the answer is no different than it is for most White Americans.
What’s at stake are affordable health care, a woman’s right to choose, responsible gun laws and a compassionate nation that can hold up its head with dignity.
If Trump can figure out how to get those things for African Americans, he just might have a chance of earning their support.
Dahleen Glanton writes for the Chicago Tribune.