Donald Trump, the polarizing boss of all bosses and the leading presidential candidate for the Republicans is at a crossroads. One way leads to the nomination and possible election of the most animated political figure this century. The other path leads to another setback for the GOP that may take another eight years to fix.
One key to this election may be the African-American vote but does Trump even have a chance to gain the all important minority vote? Does he even care?
It mattered in 2008, it mattered in 2012, but will it matter this year?
This is the question political pundits and campaign managers are asking themselves. Historically, since 1964, African-Americans have voted for Democrats. However, in the 2008 and 2012 elections of President Barack Obama, black citizens turned out in record numbers for him. According to the Washington Post, the black vote for Democrats rose from 85% to 95% for those elections.
Will there be a massive change in African-American votes this year? Probably not. That doesn’t mean the group does not matter, however. That 10 percent still in limbo could be what gives the GOP the Oval Office again. Without the historic presidency of Obama to rally the black vote, the turnout will most likely return to the lower percentages of past elections. So the question becomes, how do Trump’s values resonate with the black vote?
On immigration, Trump has clearly stated he would like to deport up to 11 million undocumented immigrants. While protecting the borders of this country should be of the highest priority for many reasons, this message comes across as racist and unsympathetic to many minorities. Combine that with statements such as “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. Criminals, drug dealers and rapists are crossing the border…” This only adds fuel to those who seek to paint Trump as a racist.
Despite Trump’s bombast, however, it’s true that many jobs are lost because of the extreme influx of immigrants and change is needed immediately. However, hurling insults at Hispanic and Chinese newcomers only conjures up memories of racism — memories we must overcome if we ever want to see a united America. As president, you must unite a nation, and not divide it. Although Trump’s plan of tightening the borders is needed, the delivery of the message may cause African-Americans looking to switch parties to hesitate.
On economics, Trump says he will fix America. Upon review, his tax plan is impressive. The plan aligns with the traditional Republican ideology of cutting taxes across the board. Trump’s plan centers on producing growth, investment, and an increase in jobs. His plan could actually help minorities who are still reeling from economic hardships still lingering since the last recession.
The problem, however, is the majority of voters rarely pay that much attention to policy. Voters tend to base their decisions on the candidate’s record, party affiliation, and personal background. If Trump wants to gain more African-American supporters, he must save the brunt of his tough talk for his plans on the economy, not just immigration.
The New York businessman also must be able to pass the commander in chief test. Trump’s bottom line approach and constant derogatory remarks about foreign heads of states have caused many to believe he is reckless. Americans in general are hesitant to send troops into another Iraq War. The concern over Trump’s foreign policy is he will start WWIII because of his constant use of machismo when speaking about countries like Russia, Iran, and China. President Obama has proven that diplomatic efforts can be effective recently with the release of captured Navy sailors in Iran.
We are all waiting to see Trump look Putin dead in the eye and say “You’re Fired!” But black Americans are not looking for another gun-slinging cowboy to command the greatest military force in the world. Unless Trump tones down the rhetoric, this will just be another reason for African-Americans not to vote GOP.
In the end, it may not matter whether African-Americans relate to Donald Trump’s message. Based on their behavior in past elections, the majority of them are most likely not going to vote for him. The main question is will he continue to rile up the Obama fan base and effectively transfer “Yes We Can” votes to Hillary out of spite for Trump?
If his message continues as usual, the Republicans will face another loss, and the party will be looking for another leader. Whoever the nominee is going to be must do the GOP a favor and connect with the African-American population. Distrust of government is at all-time high. The silver lining for Republicans is there has never been a better time for African-Americans to join the GOP. All that’s needed now is a respectable candidate. Is that Mr. Trump? Only time will tell.
Photo by Michael Vadon
Hayden Williams III is a Pre Medical student at the University of San Francisco and the editor of the Voices section at Bold. He is a modern day renaissance man who blends biological and political theories to birth a new approach to philosophy, which he calls the “Biolithical” method. Hayden served in the United States Air Force after attending Morehouse College as a Psychology Major. While serving in the Air Force, he studied and became nationally certified as a radiologic technologist. Hayden hopes to one day help bring quality healthcare to developing countries around the world through the use of telemedicine.