No, Trump’s Mugshot Will Not Help Him Win Over More Black Voters

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

After former President Donald Trump was indicted by Fulton County, Georgia’s district attorney’s office, many speculated about the potential political ramifications that would emerge. After his mugshot went viral on social media, it became a symbol for many of the weaponization of the government against a political opponent.

But many on the right had a rather bizarre interpretation of the mugshot. They contended that Trump’s scowling image would somehow resonate with the black community and help him win more black support. If this is the assumption many on the right are making, they might be more than a little disappointed.

Conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza posted a tweet suggesting that mugshots are an “iconic symbol” for black Americans:

Florida congressional candidate Lavern Spicer made a similar comment, claiming that Trump now has “street cred.”

By way of supporting this assertion, they pointed to multiple TikTok videos in which black folks are expressing favorable opinions about Trump after his indictment.

Naturally, many other black conservatives on social media objected, noting that the very assertion that a mugshot would make Trump appeal to black people was not only inaccurate but could be seen as bigoted:

I won’t mince words. Peddling the notion that Trump having a mugshot will somehow help him win more black votes is about as silly as it gets. When I first saw people making that contention, it made me wonder if those expressing this sentiment had ever spoken with a black person before. Trust me, the former president having a rap sheet doesn’t say “I understand your complex lived experience with systemic oppression” to black Americans.

For starters, the assertion gives the impression that conservatives believe that black folks are mostly thugs making their rounds in the criminal justice system. This is not true, of course. The vast majority of black people have never been incarcerated. This is not the message that the right wants to send if it is seeking to win more African Americans to the right, is it?

I have also seen folks claiming that Trump’s arrest under false accusations will make him more relatable to black folks, who are disproportionately falsely accused and convicted of crimes. But this is also a faulty argument. Drawing parallels between Trump’s situation is akin to comparing a billionaire’s qualms about taxes to a poor person who is unable to make rent because they didn’t get enough hours at their minimum wage jobs. The former president has the wealth and resources to potentially beat his charges. Even if he doesn’t, the notion that his plight will be as dire as the situation falsely accused black folks have found themselves in is absurd on its face.

Moreover, there is the reality that most black Americans do not hold favorable views toward Trump. In fact, it would not be surprising to find out that most believe he is guilty, meaning that they are not going to sympathize with his circumstances.

As for the TikTok videos, we must live in reality. Social media is not real life. The fact that some black folks are rocking with Trump because of his indictment on videos does not mean there will be a significant upsurge in black support for the former president.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Trump has shown that he can appeal to black voters, having increased his black support in the 2020 election. He has done far better at this than most of his Republican predecessors. If he wants to push the numbers higher, he will have to highlight his accomplishments that benefitted the black community and explain how he will continue this if he is re-elected. Trump will likely win the GOP nomination, barring some crazy development. If this happens, he would be wise to rely on his salesmanship instead of a mugshot.


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