by Jonathan Hicks
Donald Trump, the business tycoon who is hysterically fixated on delegitimizing the presidency of Barack Obama, was asked in a recent interview to explain the high support that African-Americans lavish on Obama and to account for his own diminishing level of support among Black voters.
“I have a great relationship with the Blacks,” the artificial presidential candidate proudly said. “I’ve always had a great relationship with the Blacks.”
Trump’s grating response was immediately defended by his fellow right-wing political colleagues, who said that there is nothing objectionable to the divisive businessman’s description of his relationship with “the Blacks.” But for most African-Americans, hearing this wealthy businessman discuss “the Blacks” unleashes a torrent of uncomfortable reactions, including a sense that Trump is describing his encounters with some distant, exotic tribal group. Let’s just leave it at this: If no one else does, African-Americans certainly understand the unspoken code here and what it really says about the millionaire mogul’s relationship with a group of Americans.
Yet, it is vintage Trump: insensitive, wildly divisive, blustery and chock full of passion for doing whatever it takes to wrestle to himself whatever glimmer of media attention is available. In his divisiveness, he has latched onto a formula that is paying great media and political dividends. In a few short weeks, he has gone from the carnival barker of television reality shows to the nation’s leading denouncer of a fact that has long ago been made conclusive: that Obama was born in the United States.
So far, it’s working. Trump has risen to the top of the polls that compare with him other potential Republican candidates, largely a reflection of the unusually lackluster field available to their party. Meanwhile, he is tapping into a dangerous sentiment: the bitter feelings within a swath of America’s conservative voters who feel frightened that America is being led by its first Black president, one with an unusual background.
Nonetheless, Trump, who is now increasingly dubbed as the “Birther of a Nation,” shows no sign of slowing down his assault on the legitimacy of Obama to be president of the United States. In doing so, Trump continues to play to the crazies within the Republican right. He has carved a position so extreme that he is out of sync with the conservative wing of the party. Even Jan Brewer, Arizona’s Republican governor and the darling of the country’s harsh anti-immigration movement, distanced herself from the “birther” wing by vetoing a bill that would have required presidential candidates to provide additional documentation of their citizenship.
Anyone who would seek the White House—-or even to pretend to, as is the case with Trump—should never choose as a path to the highest office in the land one that focuses on playing to baseless, paranoid fears.
The prospect of a Trump presidential candidacy is further troubling for African-Americans—or as he would say, “the Blacks”—because he seems to be a man who stands for little more than political expediency. He has moved from being strongly pro-choice to being strongly anti-abortion. He has moved from being in favor of universal health care to being vehemently opposed to the Obama health care plan. He has moved from supporting a tax increase for people who earn $10 million or more to denouncing the very same idea.
How can Americans believe in a candidate who plays to fear and seems to have no philosophical core? How can we look to this businessman, who has used bankruptcy laws to his advantage, to be the answer to the unemployment and education crisis in urban America. Indeed, the very prospect of “President Trump” is a deeply disturbing one for much of America, including “the Blacks.”
(Reprinted from the New York Amsterdam News.)