In the welter of cable commentary over Donald Trump’s overwhelming victories in the so-called “Acela primary” Tuesday, among the most startling was an aside by CNN’s Van Jones that Trump could win the election if he got just 25% of the black vote. Now this didn’t make the African-American activist who co-founded and is the current president of Dream Corps, a “social justice accelerator,” particularly happy. Nor did or does it please BET’s Tavis Smiley, who has made similar mention of Trump’s possible inroads in the black community. But it’s true.
Donald Trump really could win the general election by being the first Republican in years to gain a significant percentage of the African-American vote. He just has to make a serious and sustained effort, with genuine proposals, to do it. If the attempt is simply self-referential bluster (like bragging about the actually paltry number of Hispanics who voted for him in Nevada) coupled with unspecified pledges of “greatness,” he might as well not bother. It will end up a disheartening misfire that will not only be an insult to his supporters but a continuing — and worsening — wound to our country.
Nevertheless, the auguries for Trump in this area are extremely good, certainly the best in recent years for a Republican, if he should choose to act upon them. And for the sake of all Americans, he should. In fact, he’d better.
The African-American community is in a miserable condition that has been getting worse for decades and has reached its nadir under Obama — two-parent families disappearing, unemployment rates skyrocketing, incarceration rates catastrophic, drug addiction epidemic. We all look on in despair as gang members shoot children in the streets of Chicago and murders — almost all black-on-black — proliferate in Baltimore after years of decline.
What is to be done about all this? Hillary Clinton will certainly have plenty to say, but it will all be the same old disingenuous bilge. She can’t be part of the solution because she — like the Democratic Party she has served loyally for almost her entire life — is part of the problem. For reasons of moral narcissism and political expediency, beginning with the Great Society that party has set up a system in black communities that has trapped African-Americans into a non-stop cycle of government dependency, turning them into what talk show host Larry Elder dubbed “victocrats,” believers in perpetual victimhood, a self-fulfilling prophecy, if there ever was one. The #blacklivesmatter movement is only the most recent avatar.
Many black people — just not the brilliant minds like Thomas Sowell and Elder — know this. They are just constrained by the atmosphere in their communities, the evil influence and machinations of those like Reverend Al and Maxine Waters, against speaking up. Others have simply given up. It’s hard to blame them. How do you break this cycle?
Enter Donald Trump.
No, Donald cannot solve the problems of black America by himself — not by a long shot. That job goes to African-Americans themselves. But he can do something, get things kick started and possibly win (in this case deservedly) a presidential election in the process. Here’s why and how:
WHY: This is easy. He’s Donald Trump. As the biggest celebrity ever to run for president, he’ll get the full attention of African- Americans, especially if he goes to their communities personally, which he must. (Do you think any other Republican of recent vintage would raise a stir? In a recent episode of Watters’ World, several Harvard students didn’t even know who John Kasich was.)
HOW: This is the important part. As luck would have it, one of Trump’s signature campaign goals — bringing jobs back to America — refers directly to one of the key problems of black America — rampant unemployment. But it gets more specific. Trump speaks continually of American corporations — Carrier, Pfizer, and Ford, among others — moving their factories out of our country to lower their taxes and other costs, while we lose jobs.
What if Trump were to propose that those corporations could return to America tax free (for a certain amount of time), if they were to build those new factories not in foreign countries but in our own disadvantaged communities? (This is a variant on the old Jack Kemp opportunity-zone idea.) In the case of a Ford, Trump could go further, talking to the UAW and asking them to reduce their minimums in those communities as well (for a similar amount of time) until the local work forces were sufficiently trained and the factories humming. The man who invented, or at least wrote, The Art of the Deal should be able to get this done. It would be a win, win, win for everybody.
Republicans always claim capitalism is the true motor of society and that earning a decent wage for honest work is far better for the psyche than a welfare check. And they’re right, of course. But they don’t do anything to demonstrate it — all talk and no action. This is their opportunity. At the same time it could begin to put a dent in the loathsome identity politics that drives us apart and help get rid of ugly hyphenates like African-American, which I use only regrettably. We should all just be Americans. There’s nothing worse for black people — or any other group — than to continue voting monolithically for one political party.
Donald, are you listening?
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Country, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.