Trump’s Black Outreach is to Make Whites More Comfortable

Trump’s Pitch To Black Voters Is Really to White Voters

Recently, Donald Trump has been making a pitch to black voters by saying essentially: “Your communities are in ruins, your schools don’t function, your kids are unemployed. The Democrats really screwed you. What do you have to lose voting for me?” Black leaders, such as Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, are not thrilled to hear what a mess they are in and how nothing works for them.

So why is Trump saying this? He may not know it, but his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who is a pollster, knows very well that if Trump gets even 5% of the black vote nationally, he should clap his hands and yell: “I did it! I did it!.” So why is he even trying?

Dara Lind at Vox has a piece explaining this, one that expands upon an observation we’ve made a couple of times in the last week. Trump is not addressing black voters at all. He is addressing wavering white Republicans who don’t mind dog whistles and undercover racism, but when it comes out in the open, they become uncomfortable. These are the kinds of people who could vote for someone who might be a racist, but then again might not be. The ambiguity matters a lot to them. But when the candidate makes it unambiguously clear that he is a racist, that is a bridge too far. By talking about how the Democrats have messed up the lives of black people and how he wants to fix things for them, these voters can rationalize a vote for Trump by thinking: “He means well for them, he just isn’t so good with words.” These voters are looking for “permission” to vote for him without having a gnawing feeling that they are voting for an out-and-out racist.

Similarly, Trump’s recent outreach to Latino groups is also intended to soften his image with white Republicans. After all his talk about building walls and what he said about an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage, he has little hope of getting more Latinos to vote for him, but convincing white voters that he has nothing against Latinos could get them just far enough that they could vote for him, especially if he reminds them what a terrible racist bigot Hillary Clinton is.

Credit Prof. Andrew Tanenbaum


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