August 19, 2016

ROGER KIMBALL: Was Last Night the Turning Point in Trump’s Campaign?

Last night’s speech was significant for several reasons. Substantively, it hammered home a truth that is as uncomfortable as it necessary to acknolwedge: that the dreadful plight of Black Americans is largely the creation of Democrats.

Aside: in a rare obeisance to political correctness, Trump consistently referred to “African-Americans.” Perhaps that is politically expedient. But I believe it is patronizing. As Teddy Rooseventl observed, “hyphenated-Americans” are a threat to the integrity of the country. We are not Irish-Americans or German-American or African-Americans (a term that is especially bizarre because it is applied indiscriminately to certain dark-skinned people: Jamaica, for example, is not part of Africa). We are simply Americans whose ancestors happen to be from Ireland, Germany, Kenya, or wherever.

But back to that perhaps startling claim about Democrats being largely responsible for the plight of Black Americans. Donald Trump is quite correct: “Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have taken African-American votes totally for granted.” Until now, anyway, the Black vote has run according to the Democratic script.

What is that script? Lyndon Johnson articulated it in its purest, as well as its crassest, form when, in 1964, he remarked to two like-minded Democratic governors that with his Great Society programs, “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

It hasn’t been 200 years, yet, but for the last fifty years, as patronizing Democratic programs stifled freedom and individual initiative and erected an increasingly burdensome (and expensive) governmental cocoon around their minority charges, the Black vote has been largely in the pocket of its new plantation owners.

The “Great Society” did not abolish poverty. That was never the intention. It institutionalized poverty, creating along the way an engorging bureaucracy that was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic party. As Trump pointed out in his speech in Milwaukee earlier this week, all of the nation’s failed cities–Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, Memphis, Milwaukee itself–have been under Democratic control for decades. Milwaukee, for example, has been Democratic since 1908. Do you suppose that there is a connection between the disasters—the poverty, the crime, the corruption—that have engulfed these cities and the political complexion of their leadership? Or is it merely fortuitous? To ask the question is to answer it.

Regular readers know that I have found find a lot to criticize about Donald Trump. I stand by those criticisms. But I also acknowledge a new note in Trump’s campaign. His speeches of the last couple of weeks have outlined with clarity and conviction that he is serious about bringing about significant change.

Well, stay tuned. The addition of Kellyanne Conway seems to be making a difference.