Election fever is in the air. In less than one month, the nation goes to the polls. Donald Trump and the African American voters are dancing a most fascinating waltz.
Mr. Trump is quite the colorful character, to put it mildly. Trump does not have the best track record with women. The wives are legendary. Ivana Trump is famous for being famous. Marla Maples was the pretty actress. And of course his most recent wife, Melania, once posed for Playboy.
Trump has been a most polarizing figure throughout his career. But this piece is focused on his relationship with persons who are not middle-aged white men. Most noteworthy, Trump has always been about “what’s best for Donald Trump.” He has never been shy in that regard as evidenced by him calling out comedienne and television personality Rosie O’Donnell, “Rosie’s a loser. A real loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie.” Trump has been negative and careless in his words about every cross section in society and it has worked for him. He famously said, “…. I don’t frankly, have time for total political correctness.” This has been particularly true when it to some of his business practices.
Slumdog Millionaire and hater
First of all, in 1973 (almost forty-three (43) years to today), Donald Trump was a named defendant in a ‘Complaint for Injunction Pursuant to Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 3601, et seq.’ The first accusation was the defendants refusing to rent ‘dwellings to persons of color’. Trump was only twenty six years old at the time but he was already the President of “The Trump Organization.” The Trumps then hired hot shot attorney Roy M Cohn. Cohn became famous as an aide to another known xenophobe, Senator Joseph McCarthy.
In Cohn a mentor was born
It’s often said that great minds think alike. Whether truth or not, Trump and Cohn saw things through similar lenses. Cohn counter-sued the Government to the amount of $100 million, calling the accusations “baseless” and “irresponsible.” This claim was quickly dismissed by the presiding judge, who stated it (the counter-claim) was “wasting time and paper.” However, this was a stall tactic for the Trump team. A move solely meant to muddy the proverbial waters and the government’s case.
After almost two years of litigation (loosely used in this case), the sitting judge grew tired of the shenanigans. “I think the time has come when we have to bite the bullet,” the judge said, calling for a settlement. An agreement was reached which required no admittance of wrongdoing from the Trump. Thus a star was born. From that time onwards, Cohn was not only Trump’s attorney but also his mentor and teacher.
Trump believed Laziness is a trait in blacks?
Meet John R. O’Donnell, former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino President. In 1991, O’Donnell wrote an aptly titled book called “Trumped.” In Trumped, O’Donnell recalled a conversation he had with ‘The Donald’.
Here’s a snippet.
“And isn’t it funny, I’ve got black accountants at the Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. No one else.”
“I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. ….”
When asked initially about what was written, Trump stated in 1997, “The stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.” However, in what became his trademark, he backtracked. On the program “Meet the Press” Trump stated: “He made up this quote. I’ve heard the quote before, and it’s nonsense. I’ve never said anything like it, ever.”
Furthermore, to his credit though, O’Donnell admitted to being a disgruntled ex-employee but states categorically that his account is the truth.
Trump continued to wade into murky waters
Donald Trump was not seen enough, so he also embarked on being heard. On the topic of education and being black, Trump, in a 1989 interview, said: “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. … If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today.” First of all, if factual, President Bill Clinton would have ended Affirmative Action rather than mend it. Or better still, subsequent Presidents and members of Congress and the Senate would repeal it.
Trump’s new-found love with minorities
Trump has always stated loudly and emphatically that he is not a racist. His actions, however, spoke volumes through the annals of history. As he positioned himself for a run at the presidency, Trump knew he needed allies of all classes, creed, and races. Most of all he needed diversity to have a chance at victory.
Enter The Apprentice
To this end he strategically placed certain persons into interesting roles. Most notably, Omarosa Manigault, who is now the Director of African American outreach for the Trump campaign. Manigault is a former Clinton staffer. She is well-educated (pursued a PhD at Howard University) with strength and personality, and well-versed in politics. On the face of it Manigault looks like an apt choice, but find ten African Americans who like her. Just ten. Manigault, much like Trump, is a fiend for attention. She must be the star. This was evident dating back to her days on Trump’s reality show The Apprentice.
A polarizing decision by Trump
Doctor Ben Carson seemed satisfied with Trump’s choice. Consequently, Spike Lee was not. In a distasteful and immature manner, film-maker Spike Lee took to social media to express his displeasure.
More to Lee’s point was, where did this new found love of blacks come from with Trump? There are many sub-groups that support Trump through many walks of life.
Meet Darrell Scott and the Black Pastors for Trump
One of Trump’s most vociferous African American supporters is Pastor Darrell Scott. Pastor Scott is a representative of those with the prosperity gospel doctrine. Pastor Scott came to prominence during the Republican convention where he spoke of Trump’s many “virtues.” Consequently, the response to Pastor Scott’s speech from the African American community was vicious.
Given these responses, one may conclude that many African Americans are skeptical.
Trump using African Americans as a vehicle to get the Caucasian Votes
After many months of requests and questions, Donald Trump had finally decided to address the African American issues. In a speech delivered in West Bend, Wisconsin, Trump laid out his plan for the African American community. First examine the location. West Bend is an almost all-white exurb of Milwaukee. Last election, seventy percent of voters there chose Mitt Romney over President Obama. He chose the sanctuary of this neighborhood and not the inner city which he chose to speak on. Maybe the calling was simply too strong for Trump to wait. Or probably not strong enough for him to have spoken sooner.
Here’s an excerpt from the speech.
“First, on immigration. No community in this country has been hurt worse by Hillary Clinton’s immigration policies than the African-American community. Now she is proposing to print instant work permits for millions of illegal immigrants, taking jobs directly from low-income Americans.”
“I choose to recite a different pledge. My pledge reads: “I’m with You – the American people.”
We will reject bigotry and hatred and oppression in all of its forms, and seek a new future of security, prosperity and opportunity – a future built on our common culture and values as one American people.”
This is the same man who said he didn’t want blacks or African Americans counting his money. Therefore what has changed? In Dimondale, Michigan Trump repeated the rhetoric in another speech.
“No group in America has been more harmed by Hillary Clinton’s policies than African-Americans. To those hurting, I say: what do you have to lose by trying something new? One thing we know for sure is that if you keep voting for the same people you will keep getting the same result.”
Again, it bears pointing out that according to the 2010 census, Dimondale, Michigan was 92.7% white. Donald Trump was speaking to the undecided suburban base by using the African Americans’ plight as a vehicle. A very smart but very manipulative move by Trump. Quite possibly a sign of desperation.
This is the bottom-line
According to polls throughout this process, Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton in the quest for the African American vote. His numbers are unfavorable (to be kind) but Trump cares as much for the African American community as the east cares for the west. As a result, Trump needs votes badly and he will do whatever it takes to try and get them.
Clearly, the African American community as a whole is wary of Donald Trump. Furthermore the truth is, this community is wary about everyone. Mr. Trump may have to do better than Omarosa Manigault and Pastor Darrell Scott to ensure victory. That said, stranger things have happened and Donald Trump fancies his chances. This is going to be “huge.”