In analyzing Presidential Campaign 2020, I have consistently maintained that the key to Democratic victory over Donald Trump would be a substantial increase in African-American turnout over that of the 2016 presidential election contest.
The increase in the African-American turnout in the Midterm Election of 2018 was the major factor behind the Democratic Party pickup of 40 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them control.
It was the lower than expected African-American turnout in 2016 that caused Hillary Clinton to lose the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, giving Donald Trump his Electoral College majority.
Trump is the most unpopular president in the African-American community over the past 100 years, due to two principal issues: 1) his support for the massive suppression of the African-American vote throughout the nation, by means of illegal deletion of African-Americans from voter registration rolls and introduction of voter identification card requirements; and 2) the reversal of Obama administration efforts to eliminate unconstitutional racially discriminatory police practices.
Another factor has been added to these two recently that will increase and intensify anti-Trump sentiment in the African-American community. Trump has shown massive and offensive disrespect towards the person most admired in the African-American community: former President Barack Obama.
He describes the Obama administration as a failure on the economy, when in fact Obama was one of the most successful presidents with regard to the domestic economy in American history. President Obama deserves the credit for the recovery of our economy from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Trump also engages in prevarication of the worst order when he credits himself for the improvement in African-American employment when, in fact, this improvement has been a continuation of a trend which began in the Obama Administration.
Finally, Trump sealed forevermore his alienation from the African-American community when he gave America’s leading radio racist and sexist, Rush Limbaugh, the Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh deserves compassion and prayers in his battle to overcome Stage Four cancer, but not the nation’s highest tribute. The following is a compilation of Limbaugh’s most racist and sexist remarks:(http://www.msnbc.com/politicsnation/rush-limbaughs-most-outrageous-moments-25/amp)
The idea that Donald Trump, the worst racist to sit in the Oval Office of the White House since Woodrow Wilson will attract African-American voters is laughable in the extreme. If Joe Biden, with his high popularity level in the African- American community is nominated by the Democrats, he would defeat Trump by a comfortable margin in both the popular vote and the Electoral College.
Unfortunately, Biden is now most unlikely to be the Democratic presidential nominee.
The former vice president was right to downplay the significance of the New Hampshire primary in the recent presidential debate. If he loses in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, February 22, however, Biden is finished. His loss in his “firewall” state of South Carolina the following week on Saturday, February 29, will then become inevitable.
Biden was an excellent National campaign general election candidate as Obama’s running mate in 2008 and 2012. He acted with the right balance of class, respect, and erudition in easily defeating the pathetically incompetent Sarah Palin in the Vice-Presidential debate of 2008. And in the Vice-Presidential debate of 2012, he scored a surprising knockout over the vaunted Paul Ryan.
He was a pathetically ineffective Democratic presidential primary candidate, however, in the 1988 and 2008 campaigns. He seemed to lack a sense of sure-footedness in both the intra-party contests. And he has shown no improvement in this regard in 2020.
The problem for the Democrats, however is that all the remaining center-left Democratic candidates have major problems with the African-American community and will be most unlikely to bring out to the polls a sufficient number of Black voters to defeat Trump. It will be 2016 all over again.
Throughout his tenure as Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg has had extremely poor relations with his African-American constituents. Much of it stems from the firing of an African-American police chief.
Amy Klobuchar has now become the center of a controversy stemming from the prosecution of an African-American teenager while she was Hennepin County Attorney. In a statement on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, representatives from the Minneapolis N.A.A.C.P., the Racial Justice Network, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities and other organizations jointly demanded that Ms. Klobuchar “immediately suspend her campaign for president, given her role in sending an innocent black teenager to prison for life.”
Elizabeth Warren has come under fire regarding her campaign’s treatment of minority staffers. A half-dozen women of color have departed Elizabeth Warren’s Nevada campaign in the run-up to the state’s caucuses with complaints of a toxic work environment in which minorities felt tokenized and senior leadership was at loggerheads.
Yet the worst problem any Democratic presidential candidate appears to have regarding the African-American community is that of Michael Bloomberg and the “Stop and Frisk” policy he implemented while mayor of New York City.
The focus on Bloomberg’s policy comes at a time when there is increased discussion of “the talk” -the discussion black parents have to prepare their sons and daughters for police encounters — out of fear, mainly, that such interactions can go horribly wrong, ending with their children dead.
During Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor of New York City, police officers stopped and questioned people they believed to be engaged in criminal activity on the street more than five million times. This increases the apprehension about Bloomberg among Black parents. And it took nearly six years from the time he left office for Bloomberg to apologize for the policy.
Bloomberg is attempting to use his financial largesse to literally buy African-American support by 1) making large financial philanthropic grants to projects in major African-American urban centers; and 2) donating large campaign contributions to African-American public officials. He also has a television commercial which attempts to give the viewer the mistaken impression that Obama is supporting Bloomberg for the nomination.
It won’t work. Yes, it may buy Bloomberg some endorsements from key African-American public officials. It already has. But it won’t make a dent in African-American rank and file hostility towards Bloomberg. And these attempts by Bloomberg to buy African-American support will give Bernie Sanders rocket fuel for his forthcoming attacks in future debates claiming that Bloomberg is an oligarch who is attempting to buy the election. Also, wait until you see the Sanders anti-Bloomberg commercials on Stop and Frisk.
Sanders himself is very popular in the African-American community. If Biden is forced to withdraw after Nevada or South Carolina and before Super Tuesday on March 3, it will be Sanders, not Bloomberg who inherits the majority of Biden’s African-American support. And this will enable Sanders to win every state on Super Tuesday with a large African-American constituency. The Sanders campaign will be thenceforth moving towards a first-ballot nomination.
In the general election, Sanders would draw a large African-American vote. His Socialist label, however would be political poison. Donald Trump’s unpopularity will continue to increase, but he would defeat Bernie Sanders.
And the idea that Trump will win reelection is absolutely terrifying to me. Right now, he is in the middle of his own version of a Stalinist purge. But having Bernie Sanders as his opponent in November is an absolute gift to him.
It is also too late for the national Democratic leadership to draft a new candidate. A new Democratic national political superstar was unveiled to the nation after Trump’s vile and polarizing State-of-the-Union address: Gretchen Whitmer, Governor of Michigan, gave a magnificent response of a positive nature to Trump’s disgusting divisive screed.
I actually had a passing thought about her. I served in the administration of former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman. Somewhere, I have bumper stickers from her 1997 reelection campaign. I could transform these stickers from “Whitman” to “Whitmer” simply by deleting “an” and substituting “er.” But there will be no need for that this year.
So America now faces the prospect of four more years of an unhinged Donald Trump as president. God Bless America. God Save America. God Help America.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.