‘The blacks’

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker

— When Don­ald Trump says he has a great re­la­tion­ship with “the Blacks,” I won­der if he also gets along well with the Smiths. We know he’s tight with the Whites. But what’s with the def­i­nite ar­ti­cle? Dur­ing a brief dal­liance with Google, I learned that Trump has used “the” be­fore whites at least once — when com­ment­ing that Black En­ter­tain­ment Tele­vi­sion doesn’t of­fer awards to “the whites.” But for the most part, he re­serves “the” for “the blacks,” or, as most peo­ple would say, blacks, if they don’t say African-Amer­i­cans.

Of­ten­times, you’ll find the word “peo­ple” fol­low­ing black, as in: Black peo­ple are peo­ple, too, which is what I want to say to Trump ev­ery time he says, “the blacks.”

“The blacks” is such an odd way of re­fer­ring to any group of peo­ple (the Asians, the whites, the Lati­nos) pre­cisely be­cause it does what it shouldn’t. “The,” as Trump uses it, ef­fec­tively func­tions as a sep­a­ratist term, which tells us a great deal about Trump’s at­ti­tude to­ward, if I may, black peo­ple. Even while in­sist­ing that he has a good re­la­tion­ship with “the blacks,” Trump be­trays an ob­jec­ti­fy­ing pos­ture that would sug­gest oth­er­wise. I don’t doubt that he has friends who hap­pen to be black or black em­ploy­ees with whom he is cor­dial, if not friendly. At a cer­tain eco­nomic level, race erases it­self and racial iden­tity be­comes ir­rel­e­vant.

But these as­so­ci­a­tions are quite apart from speak­ing to a broad African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, not to men­tion non-African-Amer­i­can peo­ple of color, or from hav­ing em­pa­thy for mi­nor­ity groups.

Dig­ging up old photos of Trump snug­gling with Al Sharp­ton is laugh­able as ev­i­dence that Trump has any con­nec­tion to a di­verse com­mu­nity of black peo­ple.

Nor is speak­ing to a largely AfricanAmer­i­can com­mu­nity in Detroit — or to an Iowa rally of mostly whites about “the blacks” — likely to shift Trump’s dis­mal poll num­bers show­ing that his ap­peal to black vot­ers is ap­prox­i­mately com­men­su­rate with the num­ber of older white males who pray for a Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clin­ton.

This, among other rea­sons, is why Trump most likely will not be the next pres­i­dent of the United States. You can’t fake love, and noth­ing’s worse than a would-be wooer who says all the wrong things.

Trump can still win the pres­i­dency with­out blacks, but he can’t win with­out a healthy chunk of non-white vot­ers, in­clud­ing His­pan­ics and Asians, whose num­bers have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the past cou­ple of decades.

Nor can the Repub­li­can Party long sur­vive with­out at­tract­ing mi­nori­ties and young vot­ers. The truth is, whites de­ter­mined to get their coun­try back would do bet­ter to skip the Trump ral­lies and in­vest in some new bed linens and cham­pagne — for ro­mance, silly. A lit­tle bub­bly be­tween the sheets will grow the white vot­ing bloc far more ef­fi­ciently than build­ing walls with def­i­nite ar­ti­cles and eye-rollingly in­sult­ing pan­der­ing.

The fu­ture of the Repub­li­can Party and the pres­i­dency comes down to sim­ple math. White birth rates are down to al­most nil. Mi­nori­ties are swelling the elec­torate with high birth rates and im­mi­gra­tion. This can be done with­out a cal­cu­la­tor.

Given Trump’s egre­gious, mi­nor­i­tys­lam­ming rhetoric, com­bined with his uniquely of­fen­sive charm, there seems lit­tle chance he’ll be pulling in enough non-white votes to win. Mean­while, the white elec­torate is shrink­ing. In 2012, whites were 72 per­cent of the elec­torate, com­pared with 88 per­cent in 1992. Es­ti­mates by GOP poll­ster Whit Ayres are that the 2016 elec­torate will be 69 per­cent white and 31 per­cent non­white. Thank­fully, we ac­knowl­edge Ayres’ book, “2016 and Be­yond,” in which he does the math so we don’t have to.

So let’s say that Trump wins the same num­ber of white votes that Mitt Rom­ney did in 2012 — 59 per­cent. He still needs 30 per­cent of non-white votes to win the elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to Ayres. Re­cent his­tory of­fers lit­tle hope of this out­come: Rom­ney won only 17 per­cent of the non-white vote and John McCain just 19 per­cent.

Al­ter­na­tively, Ayres sug­gests that if Trump doesn’t ex­ceed Rom­ney’s 17 per­cent non-white vote, then he’ll need a whop­ping 65 per­cent of white votes to win, and droves of white Repub­li­cans have al­ready aban­doned ship. More­over, such a land­slide has hap­pened only once in the past 40 years — in 1984, when the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee won 66 per­cent of white votes, as well as 9 per­cent of blacks.

Need­less to say, The Trump is no Ron­ald Rea­gan.

Kath­leen Parker is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact her at kath­leen­parker@ wash­post.com.

WASH­ING­TON

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