When Donald Trump thanked Blacks for their vote following his victory in 2016, he probably intended to invoke a “double entendre” — a French term indicating a word or phrase which has two distinct meanings. In other words, Trump thanked Blacks both for what we did and what we did not do.
Remember, 2016 served as the first election since the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013 — a decision that allowed for a wave of new voting restrictions implemented in numerous states that almost-certainly reduced turnout among groups that tend to vote Democratic, including among Black voters. Blatant forms of voter suppression notwithstanding, added to the nine percent of Blacks who voted for Trump, his thanks undoubtedly referenced a whopping 4.4 million 2012 Obama voters who stayed home in 2016 — more a third of them Black.
A month after the presidential election, Trump praised Black voters for being “smart,” saying, “they didn’t come out to vote for Hillary [Clinton].”
His assertion that he “did great” serves as yet another of his many, now confirmed misnomers. He did garner more votes from Blacks than John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012 but still fared worse than any other Republican before the two. As Election Day 2016 approached, he asked Blacks, as they weighed how or even if they would vote, “What the hell do you have to lose?”
By now, and with just one year away from the next election, what Blacks have lost remains abundantly clear. If we seriously want to reverse our collective status as passengers “long relegated to America’s caboose” — a phrase uttered by National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial during the recent unveiling of the “State of Black America” 2019 report, we must follow Morial’s one-word solution and prayerful advice: VOTE.
In fact, Blacks must vote in numbers equal, if not greater, than those which broke all records during Obama’s first successful run for the White House. If equality is our ultimate goal — an end to centuries of white privilege and a true leveling of playing fields — then we must employ a “blitzkrieg” on Election Day 2020 — an intense, offensive campaign which when described in its normal context, includes the combined forces of military on land and in the air. We need everyone to vote.
What do you know about the candidates and their platforms? Are you willing to simply vote against one candidate or are you making sure you are becoming educated and enlightened about them so that you can cast your vote “for” the person you consider to be the best to represent your concerns, needs and desires? We can ill afford to take our hard-fought right to vote for granted, particularly when history shows that at point, neither Blacks or women, of any color, were allowed to vote.
Surely, we’ve grown weary of holding up the back of the train, haven’t we?