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*During the 2016 presidential election, black lives will probably still matter, but the black vote certainly won’t.
This is a reality that GOP frontrunner Donald Trump understands all too well; he would rather watch paint dry than travel to the inner city for playtime with the locals. Besides, the only African American candidate with a remote chance of becoming president is Ben Carson, who despite his accomplishments in the field of medicine, is a far cry from the beloved President Barack Obama.
For various reasons, both Carson and Trump would have more luck trying to capture a tap-dancing unicorn than the black vote next year. They are easily two of the most hated newbies in politics, reminding their critics of what it’s like to swat away flies at a picnic without causing any damage.
With this in mind, Trump has wisely chosen to go after the support of White America exclusively. After all, he’s a Republican, which means black voters are invisible to his right-leaning eyes. Why would he waste time pursuing a demographic that typically votes democratic? More importantly, black voters will not have a rooting interest in next year’s election, primarily because it won’t include Obama.
By the look of things, Trump appears to be in a win-win situation. He’s the only candidate with nothing to lose and everything to gain, allowing him to speak freely to the American people, particularly those who share his views on immigration reform and Islamic terrorism. It’s his brash candor and resistance to diplomacy that makes Trump so appealing; he’s like the uncle in your family who gets tipsy during Thanksgiving dinner and then rambles on and on about how communism will eventually destroy democracy in America. I admit, no one will ever mistake Trump for being a political savant, but his unvarnished reputation as a straight shooter is a refreshing departure from the norm: robotic politicians who specialize in saying all the right things.
When President Obama’s second term in office expires next year, minorities will lose a powerful ally and spokesman. His critics, many of whom are black, will no doubt continue to marginalize his contributions toward preserving the middle class and protecting the rights of the poor. But no matter how anyone feels about Obama, there’s no disputing this fact: he’s the closest thing to hope that African Americans have had in quite some time. The euphoria experienced as a result of Obama’s election in 2008 will soon be surpassed by the harrowing reality of another white, privileged male stepping into the highest political office America has to offer. That man may very well be Donald Trump.
Last week’s democratic debate offered viewers a preview into next year’s presidential race—one that will feature a group of aging white politicians who don’t have the slightest clue about how to connect with non-white voters. At no point was this more apparent than when Hillary Clinton attempted to “dougie” in front of a national audience on the Ellen DeGeneres show a few weeks ago. Her awkward and disturbing rendition of the popular hip hop dance symbolizes the less-than-smooth relationship she has cultivated with black and Hispanic voters. But Clinton isn’t alone; aside from Bernie Sanders, whose resume includes participation with the NAACP during the civil rights era, there isn’t a single candidate in either party that stands to gain a considerable portion of the black vote. This will surely throw a wrench in next year’s turnout at the polls, particularly compared to what it was in 2008 when Obama first ran.
In 2016, white voters will take pleasure in selecting one of their own to be president for the 44th time. On the other hand, there’s a good chance that more than a few African Americans voters will decide to stay home. That’s why Trump isn’t going out of his way to play footsie with the black community. He has already made up in his mind that “colored people won’t show up to vote.” This sentiment isn’t a complete falsehood: it applies to a rather sizable portion of the “negro population” who perceives voting to be an illegitimate aspect of the political process. Only under unique circumstances would people in this category be compelled to vote. Without Obama, next year’s election will be just another white affair.
In 2008, then senator Obama didn’t even break a sweat on his way to the Oval Office. During his campaign, the charismatic politician enchanted voters with a simple, one-word slogan: “Change.” Millions rushed to the polls and helped facilitate one of the most lopsided victories in the history of American politics. African Americans, in particular, interpreted “change” to mean they were finally going to be rewarded with 40 acres, a mule, and thousands of dollars in reparations. As a result, Obama was tagged with the moniker “Black Jesus”—which for several generations has been a name used to describe extraordinary men of distinction within the African American community. Obama, many people believed then, was the answer to millions of prayers from the poor and downtrodden. He was prematurely lauded as the antidote that would erase systematic racism and its many side effects. Although this notion turned out to be fool’s gold, it was enough to secure a monopoly on the black vote.
In 2012, a Census Bureau report showed a higher percentage of African Americans than whites voted in a presidential election for the first time in history during the matchup between Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney. The report found that more than 66 percent of eligible blacks voted in the presidential contest. Only 64.1 percent of whites turned out to vote. That marked the first time since 1968 that blacks turned out at a higher rate the whites. In addition to blacks turning out at a higher rate, the number of Asian and Hispanic voters grew from 2008 to 2012. Hispanics added 1.4 million people and Asians added over 500,000.
Obama’s rapid ascent to political prominence grabbed the attention of his white competitors, causing them to frantically scramble for what was left of the black vote. These efforts were nothing more than insincere attempts to woo support from a segment of the population that would be ignored under different circumstances. Prior to Obama’s 2008 campaign, white politicians did little to gain the black vote. That’s because 40 percent of America’s black population had minimal interest in the voting process. The only other period in recent history that blacks made a significant effort to vote during a presidential election is when Bill Clinton ran during the early 1990’s. Like Obama, when Clinton decided to run for office, he wisely ingratiated himself with minorities to gain additional votes. He smooched black babies on the cheek as if they were his own; he played a few notes on his saxophone during a live taping of the Arsenio Hall Show; he even mustered up enough courage to spend some time in the “hood,” where he visited local shops and speakeasies. Clinton, like Obama, made black voters feel as if he was one of them. He was made an honorary “negro” and his enduring popularity among African Americans might be the reason his wife, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, wins the presidency in 2016.
When the time comes for us to select the next Commander-in-Chief, there will likely be two vanilla-white candidates duking it out for political supremacy. In my opinion, Donald Trump is going to be the last man standing. He has my vote, but he certainly doesn’t need it.
The Black Hat is written by Southern California based Cory A. Haywood, a freelance writer and expert on Negro foolishness. Contact him via: [email protected] and/or visit his blogs: www.coryhaywood.webs.com and corythewriter.blogspot.com, or send him a message on Twitter: @coryahaywood