Former Vice President Joe Biden is under fire for making yet another racist remark during an interview on a popular black radio show. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who seems to have a penchant for making blunders, enjoys a significant electoral advantage with the black community. But anyone who has followed American politics for any amount of time knows that this most recent misstep will likely not harm his level of support among Democrats.
Biden Decides Who’s Black and Who’s Not Black
On Friday, the former vice president appeared on “The Breakfast Club,” one of the most popular black radio shows to discuss his record and his plan for black America. Near the end of the interview, host Charlamagne tha God suggested that they speak again in the future because he has more questions for the candidate.
Biden responded with a poorly-considered joke. “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” he said, squirting a dollop of ketchup on his foot before inserting it into his mouth.
The former vice president’s comment elicited a firestorm from people on both the left and the right. But naturally, high-profile progressives came to the aid of Uncle Joe, doing their best to distract from or defend his brazenly racist joke. Hours later, the candidate apologized during a conference call with black business leaders. But the fact that he thought it acceptable to make such a quip reveals a more profound reality about the former vice president and the Democratic Party in general.
This situation is not the first time Biden has made racially insensitive comments. Shortly before the 2008 presidential campaign, he made a questionable remark about then-candidate Barack Obama. During the 2012 campaign, he told a black audience that Republicans wanted to “put y’all back in chains.”
But this latest display of racism was far more audacious than his previous statements. In this case, he literally appointed himself the arbiter of blackness. While he may have meant his comment as a joke, it’s easy to say that this utterance reveals an underlying belief that is rampant among the left’s white elite class.
The notion that black conservatives aren’t really black is a popular one among some black Democrats who find it difficult to argue against conservative ideas. But the majority of blacks, while they may disagree with conservatives, would not question their blackness. Roland Martin, a former CNN contributor who hosts Roland Martin Unfiltered – a left-leaning digital show – will not allow anyone on his program to use terms like “Uncle Tom,” “coon,” or other such slurs.
Biden’s remarks show a reality that blacks on both sides of the political spectrum recognize: White leftists think they own the black community. This isn’t true in a literal sense, of course, but in the sense that blacks vote overwhelmingly for Democratic politicians, even though, in most cases, those same politicians do very little for predominantly black cities. Biden only said the quiet part out loud.
Democrats have become so accustomed to automatically getting the black vote that they are now comfortable speaking out of place. To put it frankly, what Biden said, and what many white liberals believe, would get them slapped in the face if uttered in person. The sad reality is that the Democrats no longer even have to hide their disdain. Like a husband who stops working out after getting married, they believe they can get away with anything – and they might be right.
Contrary to what the Democrats seem to believe, black Americans grow increasingly weary of the Democratic Party. Indeed, the only reason they haven’t left already is that they don’t view the Republican Party as a viable alternative. African American voters don’t support Democrats because they love the left. A recent Pew Research poll revealed that 68% of black voters identify as either “moderate” or “conservative.”
Black Americans vote Democratic because they view the party as the lesser of two evils. The fact that the GOP essentially gave up engaging with the black community at the local, state, and federal levels has only contributed to this belief. But it seems that – now, more than ever – the conservative movement has an opportunity to begin re-establishing its relationship with the black community.
Moreover, there is a paradigm shift happening in the black conservative movement. Many are challenging the “old guard” of the establishment when it comes to issues like messaging and outreach. If these recent developments on the right are any indication, the Democrats may no longer be able to take African Americans for granted.
Read more from Jeff Charles.