At the ABC News town hall, a young black man asked Democratic nominee Joe Biden why black voters should pull the lever for him, despite his notorious “You ain’t black” comment. President Donald Trump gave a more full-throated answer to that question than Biden, even though Trump didn’t face that question.
The young black man — who identified himself as a progressive Democrat — asked the former vice president, “Besides ‘You ain’t black,’ what do you have to say to young black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that continually fails to protect them?”
ABC News gave Biden quite a few minutes to answer the question, and he meandered here and there.
Young African-American voter to Joe Biden:
"Besides 'you ain't black,' what do you have to say to young black voters who see voting for you as further participation in a system that fails to protect them?" pic.twitter.com/acT4UWxUwe
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 16, 2020
“Am I worthy of your vote? Can I earn your vote?” He began. Biden cited “two things… that I’ve demonstrated I care about,” trying to make the criminal justice system “fair” and “more decent,” and pushing public school beginning at age 3.
“Every three- and four- and five-year-old will go to school — school, not daycare, school,” Biden said. He rambled about school, claiming that earlier education will “increase by 58 percent their chances of going all through 12 years of school and going through successfully. We’ll also provide for the ability to bring in social workers and school psychologists.”
For all his meandering discussion of education, Biden did not mention the policy that has helped black children get ahead in many circumstances — giving parents the ability to choose the best schools for their kids through school choice.
Biden also promised to provide $70 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), building off of Trump’s success in providing permanent funding for HBCUs. Biden promised to invest money to help black entrepreneurs and to fight redlining.
After all this, moderator George Stephanopoulos turned to the young man who asked the question, and said, “Did you hear what you needed to hear?”
Stephanopoulos did not push back on Biden’s claims, did not cut Biden short in his rambling answer, and did not ask Biden to respond to Trump’s record on these issues.
Meanwhile, over on NBC News, Trump answered a question about how his administration will “better prepare our law enforcement officers to work in collaboration with the communities that they serve and also to protect the lives of innocent black and Latinos from police brutality and injustice?”
Trump first lamented the horrific treatment of George Floyd, calling it “a terrible thing to watch.” He noted Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) proposal, the JUSTICE Act. “He came up with a bill that should have been approved. It was great,” the president noted. “And the Democrats just wouldn’t go for it.”
Indeed, Senate Democrats pre-emptively blasted the bill before Republicans had finished drafting it. Minutes after Scott, a black Republican senator, revealed the bill, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called it a “token” effort. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went so far as accusing Republicans of “trying to get away with murder, the murder of George Floyd,” because the JUSTICE Act’s provisions against chokeholds did not go far enough, in her view.
Trump went on to repeat his rather grandiose claim, “I have done more for the African American community than any president. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln.”
Yet the president mentioned specific accomplishments. “Criminal justice reform, prison reform, historically Black colleges and universities — I got them funded. They were on a year-to-year basis. … I got them 10-year funding and financing, and more than they even asked for,” Trump explained.
The president also mentioned opportunity zones, his program to help black entrepreneurs. He claimed that President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Biden “never even tried” to do criminal justice reform. While Obama did suggest reform measures, he did not get them passed through Congress and signed into law, as Trump did.
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) October 16, 2020
Trump frequently engages in hyperbole, but he does have a powerful list of accomplishments when it comes to delivering for the black community. The president also released a $500 billion Platinum Plan for Black America, which the Trump administration crafted along with O’Shea Jackson, better known as Ice Cube.
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Georgia House Rep. Vernon Jones (D) praised the president, saying that “Trump did more for the black community in less than four years than Biden did in over four decades.”
Along with the accomplishents Trump cited in his answer, Jones noted that “while Biden was turning a blind eye to the rioting, looting, and indiscriminate violence afflicting Democrat-run cities all over the country this summer, the President was demanding that Democrat governors and mayors allow their police forces to restore law and order, pointing out that destroying small businesses in majority-Black communities does nothing to advance the cause of racial justice but does negatively impact the people who live in those communities.”
Indeed, the destructive George Floyd riots have disproportionately damaged black communities in Kenosha, Wisc., Minneapolis, and Chicago. The riots destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 26 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black. While Biden condemned the arson and looting early on and more recently, he remained silent for months. He singled out “right-wing militias” but never condemned antifa or Black Lives Matter agitators.
Jones said Biden is taking black voters for granted, while “President Trump is grateful for every Black vote he receives, rightly viewing that support as vindication of his successful efforts to empower and uplift Black Americans.”
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.