Democrats Must Do More to Earn the Minority Vote
What have Democrats done for you lately?
When the young Black conservative firebrand Candace Owens was a younger college Democrat, it was then-candidate Donald Trump’s question that altered the course of her political philosophy:
“What the hell do you have to lose?” Donald Trump asked African-American voters, inviting them to take a chance and vote for him instead of Hillary Clinton in 2016.
For Owens, and many others like her, Trump’s scorched-Earth question struck at the very heart of the failures of the Democratic Party. The question implied something else about Democratic politicians and policies as well: Good ideas and intentions aren’t enough.
This type of plain-speak, a lack of the usual sugar-coating and watering-down appealed to Owens, and she is far from alone.
In spite of the media spending three years rigorously denouncing President Trump as a racist with white supremest leanings, his support among minority demographics, including African-Americans is actually growing.
Incidentally, Owens isn’t put off by Democratic name-calling; she is routinely vilified in a similar fashion.
Granted, Trump’s support in minority communities, like that of most Republicans, had nowhere to go but up. But go up it has.
One problem facing Democrats who want to wrest the White House away from Trump and Republicans in 2020, is that Trump has actually delivered on two major issues important to the Black community in particular; criminal justice reform and Black unemployment.
The Trump administration, after bi-partisan efforts in the House and Senate, passed the FIRST STEP Act in 2018, which was the first significant criminal justice reform in decades. The FIRST STEP Act began the process, openly acknowledged as a serious problem by Trump, of redressing racial disparity in sentencing for non-violent crimes.
African-American unemployment is at a historic low, as is unemployment for the Latino community.
Trump certainly isn’t a skillful communicator; he sometimes embarrasses people, even as he is praising and trying to help them.
No one was much impressed with Trump’s onstage treatment of Hispanic Advisory Council member Steve Cortez at a New Mexico rally. But Steve Cortez had a completely different take on the interaction, in his own words “Trump and Me: Why Latinos Want Results, Not Fine Talk”.
“The first thing the newly inaugurated president mentioned to me: ‘Steve, what can I do for Hispanic Americans?’”
“I responded that small businesses represented the most immediate opportunity. While a thriving small business sector of course benefits Americans of every color and creed, Hispanics benefit disproportionately because we are, statistically, by far the most entrepreneurial demographic in America.”
“Indeed, a primary driver of surging Latino wages in our country emanates from the renaissance in small business spurred by the badly needed tax and regulatory relief of the Trump economic boom.” — Steve Cortez
Black Voices for Trump, including one of Trump’s most loyal lieutenants, is busily spreading the message that a vote for Donald Trump means jobs, prosperity and prison reform and a vote for Democrats means endless culture wars, progressive purity tests and partisan politics.
Trump’s weaknesses within the minority communities aren’t insignificant; a communication style that is unskillful at best and a long tradition of Democratic voting in minority communities are both against him.
But many of these minority communities are suffering. And some of the worst suffering, as in the case of Baltimore, Chicago and San Francisco, is occurring in the places that have been under almost exclusive Democratic control for decades.
Trump’s inroads with minority voters aren’t the real problem facing Democrats: Democratic failings are.
Some progressives are starting to notice the failings of even former President and Democratic luminary Barack Obama, who deported more people than Donald Trump and conducted a secret drone bombing campaign among other things today’s liberal progressives might find objectionable.
Current Democrats aren’t trying much harder to court the African-American and Latino vote.
The Biden campaign, arguably polling the best among African-American voters, was badly embarrassed when its own Latino voter outreach program, “Todos Con Biden” was hijacked by the Trump campaign after a botched online roll-out.
Biden announced his program before securing the domain name and Twitter handle, both of which were co-opted by Trump’s team for less than $100.
The other three Democratic front-runners are all having trouble appealing to minority voters. Sen. Elizabeth Warren waxes poetic about reparations…to an enthusiastic crowd of mostly white people. Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a rally in Queens that is estimated to be 80% white.
But no Democrat is struggling to win the Black vote more than Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose meteoric rise to the moderate ground following the many fumbles of Joe Biden has put him in the crosshairs this week.
Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan, released to court the African-American vote this week, was badly botched with a bit a shady dealing in its announcement. The Buttigieg campaign claimed support of 400 Black community leaders for the plan; Buttigieg sent an email, and if the person didn’t opt out, they “supported”.
Very tricky, very slick; but not the kind of games that appeal to Black community leaders, many of whom were shocked to see their name on Buttigieg's list. Some of them had pledged to support other candidates; 60% of the people on the list weren’t even African-American at all.
Buttigieg, who is openly gay, also faces a bit of a challenge convincing the older generation of Black and Hispanic voters, who tend to be more socially conservative.
During tonight’s scheduled debate, Democrats will undergo another test to determine their commitment to courting the minority vote. Under the guidance of four female moderators, tonight’s debate is likely to include a great deal of discussion on abortion.
This is an issue where Democrats are deeply dividing their base, especially as it pertains to African-American and Latino communities where support for abortion is not nearly as strong as it is among white liberals.
Will the Democrats onstage appease vocal abortion-rights advocates in the name of supporting women at the expense of more conservative minority voters?
Because every single time Democrats drop the ball this election season, the Trump campaign is going to be there to catch it. If more socially conservative minority voters don’t have a home in the Democratic Party anymore, Donlad Trump is ready to welcome them with open arms.
And a bigger paycheck.
(contributing writer, Brooke