Everything about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign so far suggests — loudly — that not only is he racist, xenophobic and elitist, but he’s also, from what I’ve gathered, proudly anti-Black … at least as a matter of strategy to win the Republican primary and White House. Seems to me that an anti-Black candidate is an obvious red flag for Black voters, right? Right?
Apparently not. Why? With or without its veneer, conservative values appeal to Black Republicans, who view them as the best and most attractive option for Black lives.
During any election turnover, the so-called “average voter” (read: “white voter”) is fictionalized as a bottomless goldmine for white presidential candidates. But this election cycle has been especially poignant to the “average voter” because the country is coming down from a post-racial high — straight into the righteous jaws of Black Lives Matter.
Profit is precious to real estate gods like Donald Trump. Ergo, it doesn’t take much to surmise that it’s good business for any elite white to mine for gold in the irrational fantasies of the “average voter,” to take pick and shovel to the fears and prejudices that motivate their voting patterns.
And gold they found.
In the course of Trump’s primary run, he has made multiple inflammatory remarks about Black Americans, indicting them for their “laziness” and social and economic “advantages,” courtesy of affirmative action policies. To this day, to this very moment, he’s yet to disavow the endorsement of former KKK grand wizard David Duke or condemn the Confederate flag as a fixture at his campaign events. Behind the safety of the secret service, he’s stoked violence toward Black Lives Matter protesters at his rallies, encouraging his supporters to act on their most base impulses and offering to pay their legal fees should they face charges. (He has since rescinded that offer.)
He’s done all this and still managed to garner Black supporters, some of whom have been embarrassingly pawned off as spectacles at his rallies and tout Jee-zus as their preferred political pundit. Some of whom are famous athletes. Some of whom can spout anti-immigrant sentiment — “Mexicans are taking all the jobs” — with the best of them. Some of whom believe real estate mogul “share their values.” LMBAO. Some of whom have, of all things, expressed their fears about — wait for it — “white genocide.” Because, of course, the mass extermination of whites is the real, untold story of American racism! Now …
In all fairness, Black support for Trump makes “sense” for those who understand that the Black community is not a monolith — a line of reasoning used by elite and poor Blacks alike, who for different reasons defer to rugged individualism and the meritocracy myth to signify their pro-Blackness. Further complicating matters is the fact that Democrats have a notorious history of racism. George Wallace was a liberal, after all. Until politicians recognized that race and class reside in close proximity of one another, the Republican party — “the party of Lincoln” — was the choice party of Blacks. In present-day America, however, such recognition is indispensable to the politics of working-class Blacks, who are the majority. It is the reason why the last vestiges of Black Republicans, though real, are a rarity. For long ago, poor people of Black and white stock crowned leftists as the champions of workers. We’ll leave the question of whether or not the left deserves such an honor for another day.
But, more important, I think, is this: Trump’s brand of conservative rhetoric and policy is not different from the mainstream Republican ideology. I mean, does anyone really believe that a human wall (Ted Cruz) is more progressive than a brick one?
One can argue that the Trump phenomenon is callous because it lays bare conservative feelings in their rawest form, and that by refusing to perfume its agenda, it becomes a liability for conservatism. Still, the differentia specifica of the racist tirades expressed throughout his campaign is that they are not bound by qualification. His white supremacist endorsers are not bound by qualification. The same goes for the “average voter” he has baited with much success. In fact, it’s safe to assume that Trump’s hate-laced oratory — which, by design, reproduces the very generalizations and broad-based caricatures of Black life that it taps into and fetishizes — constitutes conservative values taken to their logical conclusion.
As Tavis Smiley put it, all that Trump contributes to the right wing is a different sound. A sound more the harmful and brutal because it’s more honest and straightforward.
A vote for Donald Trump by Black Republicans is nothing more than a vote for a bare-boned version of the Right’s same ol’, same ol’. And a Black vote for Ted Cruz or John Kasich is no less a symptom of a racial inferiority complex than one for a politically incorrect nincompoop.
Illustration by DonkeyHotey. Creative Commons license.