This has been Trump’s “pivot week”, a transparently phony attempt to pretend his campaign isn’t fueled entirely by white anger, and hasn’t been one long sustained howl designed to yodel bigots out of the woodwork. Hillary did a good job with her speech yesterday making sure that no one can forget that the alt-right misogynist racist part of his campaign isn’t just one aspect; it is the driving force. So Trump has pretended, of course, that the Democrats are the real racists.
This started last week when he asked black voters what they had to lose in voting for him.
“What do you have to lose? What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good. You have no jobs — 58 percent of your youth is unemployed,” Trump said on Friday in Dimondale, Mich., a mostly white community near Lansing. “What the hell do you have to lose?”
He’s also talked about crime, and how he would stop it so people wouldn’t get shot, and he would do so by making the police super-empowered, which might not be what the black community totally wants to hear right now, but regardless. Also, some African-Americans took exception to his idea that all their lives resemble area where even Robocops fear to tread. This is his outreach.
He has also started to turn toward the normal Republican outreach argument, which is that Democrats just take black votes for granted, and never do anything to help them, so in that case blacks should vote for Republicans, because, when you think about it, aren’t Democrats the real racists? Trump took this to the next level, as he does, making the unspoken shouted greasily out, in calling Hillary a bigot.
As Donald Trump listed the ways that he would make life better for African Americans living in poverty, he suddenly shouted, “Hillary Clinton is a bigot!”
” … who sees people of color only as votes, not as human-beings worthy of a better future,” Trump said. “She’s going to do nothing for African Americans. She’s going to do nothing for the Hispanics. She’s only going to take care of herself, her husband, her consultants, her donors — these are the people she cares about. She doesn’t care what her policies have done to your communities. She doesn’t care.”
(Trump calling Hillary a bigot, beside being part of a “strategy”, is also a normal Trump projection, where whatever he is he labels his opponent. It’s why he, an entirely truthless human, called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”. He was lucky in that case because Cruz is, in fact, a fantastic liar.)
This has long been the GOP argument: the Dems, who see blacks as just votes, are the real racists. Oddly, this line of reasoning has not been leveled at President Obama, because that would seem weird, but it is also telling. It’s telling because, at its heart, this is a deeply racist and wildly offensive way to make a case. It’s saying: you’re too goddamn dumb to know what’s good for you.
Think about it: do you think black people are voting for Democrats because they have no idea what is good for them? Do you think they’re fooled entirely by rhetoric? Do you think that they are all (in the upper 90s) misreading what the GOP– the party of voter suppression, of anti-affirmative action, of birtherism, of Blue Lives Matter– is saying? Do you think they are wrong to wonder why one party seems to attract all the flagrant racists? Why one party inherited the mantle of apartheid when the Democrats shed it?
It’s a really insidious way to think. It’s telling black people: you might be idiots, in fact you’ve been idiots for decades, because it is super obvious that the Democrats are the real racists here, but you don’t have to be idiots anymore. I’m offering you a chance not to be. So come on, vote for me you dummies.
So call me cynical, but I don’t think this outreach is going to work.
(I’ll admit that on the surface there is a slight “What’s the Matter With Kansas” parallel here, where liberals were stunned that conservatives would vote against their own economic interest. I don’t think it is an exact parallel though. Farmers in Kansas might be voting against their best interests, economically, but the GOP offers them cultural and religious succor. They offer nothing to black voters, who would be voting against ther cultural and economic interests. The Kansas argument is a slightly condescending “you’re voting for this, but you should be voting for that” tactic; the “what do you have to lose” is “vote for me even though I am offering neither this nor that.”)