Op/Ed By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump made dubious poll history recently. In a Quinnipiac Poll, he got exactly 1 percent of black voter support. The high bar of black vote support for most GOP presidential candidates in most elections is a mid to high single digit total. 2008 presidential candidate John McCain came in at 4 percent. And 2012 candidate Mitt Romney eased the total up a bit to 6 percent. But 1 percent is so statistically negligible that one might as well say that apart from avowed black Trump boosters Stacey Dash and Ben Carson, he’ll draw a goose egg with black voters on Election Day.
The fascinating thing about this is just how hard Trump has worked to insure that near goose egg. In fact, it almost could be said he’s worked harder than any GOP presidential candidate since maybe Ronald Reagan in 1980 to insure that black voters play the invisible man and woman for him at the polls. Yet, even Reagan, despite the low intensity warfare he waged against civil rights organizations and black Democrats, still managed to get three percent of the black vote.
Trump’s mighty efforts to race to the bottom with black voters are well known. There’s the endless charges and government discrimination lawsuits against his realty outfit for blatantly excluding African-American tenants from his New York rentals in the 1970s, his manic one-man crusade to plop the Central Park Five in the gas chamber, the relentless birther smearing of President Obama, and his rip of Obama for the Baltimore riots. Trump piled on this sordid race baiting history with his steady barrage of border line racially inflammatory cracks, digs, and jibes at Hispanics, Muslims and immigrants.
The flip side of the Quinnipiac Poll, though, tells a far different story of why Trump’s almost non-existent black support makes a difference in another way. His white voter support gaps that of Hillary Clinton. The brutal and tragic reality is that Trump makes no secret that this is the vote that he banks on as his ticket to the White House. This flies in the face of what GOP presidents and presidential contenders Nixon, even Reagan, and Bush Sr. and especially W. Bush did. They took great pains to give the appearance that they were not overt racists, and that naked racism was not part of their appeal. This included highly orchestrated, stage managed, photo-ops with black celebrities and sports figures, a handful of key black pitch men and women on the campaign trail with them, and in the case of Bush loading up the 2000 Republican convention with a pack of show piece, African-Americans to provide entertainment and perfunctory speeches.
Trump hasn’t much bothered with these appearances. He’s simply played hard on the job, economic insecurity, and disgust with and loathing of Washington Belt-Way politicians, to stir up a quasi-populist rage and frenzy among fearful, and conservative white blue collar workers, and a solid slice of equally frustrated white middle-class suburban voters.
It hasn’t stopped with this. There’s still the ancient subtle racial pander. This is the GOP’s standard use of code words and attack points such as tax and spend Democrats, out of control, wasteful government, and welfare freeloaders. This embeds the notion that minorities, and especially blacks, unfairly scam the system with the active connivance of Democrats and at the expense of hard-working, overtaxed blue-collar and middle class whites. The reverse side of this is to continually finger point civil rights leaders and Democrats as the perpetual players of the race card whenever they voice criticism of the racist digs, taunts, and hectoring of Obama.
Trump has done one more thing that like so much about his campaign defies the laws of political physics. He’s bragged at times that he can and will actually get a substantial number of blacks to vote for him. He made that boast in a photo-op meeting with black ministers, and then cites his supposed great relations with a bevy of black entertainers and sports figures.
This is not merely textbook Trump bombast it fits his self-spun narrative that he’s “the least” racist guy around and that he’s never had any personal enmity toward blacks. It’s not exactly” some of my best friends are” but when he spouts his no racist bone in his body line it’s always good for a blurb on the news cycle.
Trump’s aim is not to add a digit or two to the goose egg that polls show that he will get from black voters. It’s to reassure his angry white base that he’ll be their solid firewall in the Oval House against entitlement happy Democrats, and supposed government hand out leeching minorities. The 1 percent black voter support, then, is not a badge of embarrassment, but a badge of pride for him. It’s one Trump will wear proudly all the way up to Election Day.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Let’s Stop Denying Made in America Terrorism, (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.