If you have a pulse and a modicum of interest in politics, you know that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden opened his mouth this week and inserted his foot. In and of itself, this would not be news for the former vice president. But when the comment concerns an entire segment of American citizens – and a crucial voting bloc – saying that “you ain’t black” if you are considering voting for President Trump provides a rare window into the mentality of the 77-year-old. Such a comment by Biden is indicative of the long, strange relationship between this career politician and the black community.
Oh, I believe in Yesterday
It seemed like only yesterday when Biden warned blacks that voting Republican would “put ya’ll back in chains.” Before that, he described Barack Obama as clean and articulate, implying that this was unusual for a black man. To quote him precisely: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden marveled. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Of course, in each case, Mr. Biden clarified or apologized and, in this latest instance, referred to himself as “a wise guy.” But this backpedaling does little to erase a thinly-veiled assumption by the former VP that black folks have no business voting for anyone other than a Democrat.
Just what has this expected faithful allegiance to the party of blue accomplished for blacks? Not much. As candidate Donald Trump said in 2016, when asking for the black vote: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed — what the hell do you have to lose?” Until the Coronavirus turned the U.S. economy into a trash heap, blacks were part of the rising economic tide. Not so coincidentally, loyalty to the Democratic Party began to slip in the black community.
Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles reported on a study conducted by BlackPAC that indicates the Democratic bloom may have fallen off the proverbial rose for blacks. Charles wrote: “… 70% said they would vote for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in November. But more than a third wished for “someone else” to enter the race. About 12% of participants said they would vote for Trump.”
Twelve percent for Trump? Now we can’t have that, can we?
In November 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment for black Americans hit a low of 5.4% — down 2.6% since Mr. Trump’s election. This is what keeps Democratic political strategists up at night, and Biden’s most recent comment – even whitewashed – isn’t likely to get them any sleep.
Which brings us back to Joe Biden, who apparently feels it necessary to remind this vital voting bloc that they need to stay in line and get back where they belong. Black disenchantment with the Democrats is not new, but until Trump began to court them, they had no place else to go. In saying that voting for Trump strips you of your black identity is quite a harsh statement – but indicative of the political handbook in which Mr. Biden was schooled; to wit — the Democratic Party owns blacks – lock, stock, and barrel.
However, one wonders if blacks and Biden will be a potent cocktail come November. After all, the former vice president brings with him some “hefty baggage on racial justice,” as Eric Levitz wrote in the New York Intelligencer. He went on to remind voters that “Joe Biden once called state-mandated school integration ‘the most racist concept you can come up with.” Then there was Biden’s outspoken advocacy for the crime bill, the drug war, and more. And who doesn’t remember the beat-down Biden received from Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) in last year’s primary debate?
In 2016 Donald Trump received 8% of the black vote, the best showing by a GOP presidential candidate since 2004 when George W. Bush won a second term. Should the president garner double digits in the black community in 2020 – or get into the 12% range with black voters – the Democrats and Biden will almost surely be toast.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.