Over the past week, conservatives have been celebrating the findings of recent polls showing that President Donald Trump’s approval among black voters is at about 34%. If this data is accurate, it would represent a significant increase in black voters who approve of the president.
I’m not quite convinced that Trump’s black approval rating is as high as 34%, but I would not be shocked if Trump managed to break double digits with black voters in 2020. Unlike his predecessors, he spoke directly to black voters; he was the first GOP presidential candidate to do so since Ronald Reagan. Recently, his campaign formed Black Voices For Trump, an organization whose objective is to increase black voter turnout for the president’s re-election. It is clear that his campaign wants black votes.
If only the GOP establishment would follow his lead.
If Trump manages to earn more black votes, it would be a positive sign for right-leaning politicians. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not quite as relevant to the big picture. Don’t worry, I’ll explain in a second. Turning Point USA’s Rob Smith, a black gay conservative just penned a piece for Breitbart News discussing the polls.
In his piece, Smith points out that Trump’s approval ratings among blacks are higher despite the left’s ongoing efforts to label him as a racist who spends his weekends burning crosses in a white hood. He states that Trump managed to win over more black voters than previous Republican presidents because he has delivered results. “In a recent video for the Black Voices For Trump Coalition, I pointed out some of the results: record low black unemployment, the signing of the historic First Step Act, and so on.
The First Step Act is a much better argument than citing the black unemployment rate. It reversed much of the unnecessarily harsh measures put into place in the ‘90s. Smith rightly points out that “thousands of prisoners have been released after serving decades in prison for nonviolent offenses, and 91% of these former prisoners are Black.”
Many black Americans lauded Trump’s role in getting that legislation passed. But the president and Congress only have power over federal prisons, which house a very small percentage of the nation’s prisoners. The vast majority of inmates are kept in state and municipal facilities, meaning that Trump can’t enact any programs that could impact these individuals.
This brings me to my point.
The reason why the polls regarding Trump’s black approval rating are not relevant is that affecting real change in the black community cannot happen at the federal level. This is bigger than Trump. The issue isn’t who occupies the Oval Office; it’s who runs the cities in which black Americans live.
Real change can only occur at the local and state levels. In this day and age, we place far too much emphasis on the federal government while neglecting local and state politics, which is dangerous because the politicians at this level have a much greater impact on the everyday lives of Americans. It is for this reason that the GOP needs to rethink its outreach strategy — or lack thereof — to blacks and other minorities.
The only chance for the conservative movement and the GOP to survive is to expand the base. This means doing more than just trying to get a few more black voters to support a Republican president. Earning the trust of black voters will not be an easy undertaking; the GOP establishment and its punditry have essentially ignored black voters for nearly 60 years. The reality is that the Republican Party must do more if they wish to reach the black community.
It will take more than tweeting about Chicago’s homicide statistics. Relying on the same talking points that the right has been using for years will never work. And fixating only on the president isn’t going to move the needle. Conservatives must take a wider perspective and develop an effective strategy to reach the black community.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
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