To: readers across the Aisle

Subject: Voting in America- not so black and white

Date: May 27, 2020

In a Breakfast Club interview on 5/22 discussing issues affecting the black community, Joe Biden’s ending comments were:

 

“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump then you ain’t black.”

 

As both parties compete to win the black vote in November, let’s take a walk down the Aisle...

 

Afterwards, in a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce, VP Biden explained that “he shouldn’t have been so cavalier,” while Democrat party leaders claimed that he was just joking and Joe’s just gaffe prone. 

 

It’s like when your Grandma says something racist at dinner but you know that Grandma is a good person at heart so it slides by?

 

Others weren’t so quick to brush it off, claiming that this was one gaffe in a series of racist comments from the former Vice President, including “poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.” Let’s not forget when he said that then candidate Obama was the “first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” In the words of Joe Biden, come on man! 

 

On the other hand, we know that Joe tends to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Supporters claim that his statement was taken out of context, and the subsequent reaction is being used to distract voters from the fact that Biden does have the best record creating legislation for the black community.

 

Here’s Biden’s record fighting for the black community:

  • Cosponsored the Civil Rights Act of 1990 (preventing employer discrimination)

  • Led reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act (protecting right to vote)

  • Led efforts for Fair Housing Act (preventing housing discrimination)

 

And some highlights from Biden's plan for black Americans:

  • Expand affordable housing + Obamacare

  • Reform the justice system by investing in public defenders, addressing misconduct in police departments, and decriminalizing marijuana 

  • Improve racial inequity in education system by increasing funding, diversifying schools, and making higher education more affordable

 

Some lowlights from his long career in the senate:

  • Working relationships with segregationist senators

  • Opposed busing in 1975 (using federal funds to bring minority kids to predominantly white schools and vice versa)

  • 1994 crime bill increased mass incarceration in black communities (Biden defends this saying majority of the Black Caucus supported it at the time--- read on below)

 

Things that feel like Biden is playing the “I’m not racist because I have black friends” card:

  • Multiple endorsements and winning a big share of black votes in Super Tuesday

  • VP to President Obama (they did have a great relationship but it may have taken longer than you think for Obama to get behind Joe’s presidential campaign)

  • Vetting multiple black women for the role of his VP, including Kamala Harris and Val Demings

 

All in all, it seems that Joe has done a lot throughout his life to support the black community, even if there are some skeletons in his closet. Does Joe Biden really take black voters for granted, or is this part of a larger problem of the entire Democrat party taking black voters for granted?

In today's episode of how did we get here...

To answer that, we’ll have to take a look at some history:

 

During the civil war and reconstruction era, the majority of black politicians and voters supported Abraham Lincoln, who led Emancipation and was a Republican. When Lincoln was assassinated, Jackson took over and let the states implement black codes that limited their suffrage. 

 

In 1866, Congress overrided Jackson’s veto to pass the Civil Rights Bill, giving African Americans the rights of all citizens. However, during reconstruction, states still often used literacy tests, poll taxes, and other intimidation tactics to block black voters, who were still mainly supporting the Republican party at this time. The black codes then came back in a more legitimate system of segregation- Jim Crow laws. 

 

In response, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, effectively ending segregation, which Republican candidate Barry Goldwater labeled unconstitutional. Barry was then basically canceled by black voters. That marked a turning point where the majority of black voters began supporting Democrats. Nixon was the last Republican candidate to earn more than 15% of the black vote. 

 

Since then, although Democratic candidates seek to win the black vote, politicians don’t want to seem like they’re overly favoring one community in their legislation. This is because they want to win the black vote while avoiding white backlash for favoring the black population. As a result, presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton (who received over 80% of the black vote) both “distanced themselves from policies that might seem to disproportionately help black people.” In fact, Clinton signed the 1994 crime bill, which Biden supported, that made mass incarceration significantly worse in black communities. 

 

Additionally, when asked what his administration was doing to aid black owned businesses, President Obama said, “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.”

 

So now this brings us to the present day, where Charles Barkley claimed that the Democratic party only talks to black voters every four years when they need votes (while the Republican party doesn’t talk to them at all) and Diddy tweeted “the black vote will not be free this year.” 

 

And that’s the tea on that. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

On the other side of the Aisle...

Republicans are claiming that the Democrats make too many excuses for Biden’s gaffes. Can you imagine the response if a conservative whitesplained what wasn’t and was black? The media’s reaction would have been way worse. 

 

In 2016, then candidate Trump notoriously asked black voters, what do you have to lose? According to President Trump’s growing number of supporters from the black community, in November there is a lot to lose. 

 

Here’s President Trump’s record fighting for the black community:

  • Black unemployment was at record lows in his presidency, especially in August 2019 when it hit 5.4% 

  • Black men make up 91% of the incarcerated who have received leniency from Trump’s criminal justice reform (Kim K has entered the chat)

  • Created opportunity zones and increased funding to HBCUs 

 

Before the economic shutdown in March, It seemed that Trump’s administration had created great economic conditions for the black community. In fact, this White House article from September explains that black poverty was in fact at an all time low

 

Black conservatives claim that Democrats have a long history of victimizing the black community, leading a historically prideful community to be dependent on the government for assistance. Basically, they believe that this assistance actually creates a reverse psychology where minorities start believing that they are not capable of achieving certain things without special assistance. 

 

Many black conservatives feel that this creates an endless cycle of poverty and reliance on government assistance. This cycle works to the Democratic party’s advantage because reliant citizens will keep voting for their party, even if that party isn’t doing anything substantial to break the cycle. Young conservatives such as Rob Smith and Candace Owens have encouraged the black community to break away from this cycle and to stop being brainwashed into voting blue each year. 

 

On the other hand, economists claim that the market conditions of the Trump administration are a continuation of trends started under the Obama administration. This means that the unemployment rate was already steadily declining and the increase in new jobs was following the same trends established after the financial collapse of 2008.

 

Additionally, the Republican party has alienated the black community even further due to President Trump’s own history of racist remarks. This includes claiming that there were “fine people on both sides” of the white supremacist rally in Virginia in 2017.  Yike! Also, we can’t forget the whole birther conspiracy, which Trump created to spread doubt that President Obama was not born in the US. I’ll say it again- come on man!

 

Despite this string of racially insensitive comments, the evidence is there that Trump’s policies have resulted in arguably some of the most positive outcomes for the black community when compared to previous Democratic presidents. However, with the onset of the coronavirus, which has severely impacted the black community,  Trump should be held responsible for how he expands access to testing and to the future vaccine for black Americans, who are dying at higher rates from coronavirus in cities like New York City and Washington D.C.

The bottom line...

  • Biden and Trump have both said their fair share of racist comments. Some will take these as one-off politically incorrect statements or gaffes, while others will see a pattern of overt racism.

  • Both have also contributed to positive outcomes for the black community. Biden through his history working for civil rights legislation in the Senate and Trump creating favorable economic outcomes and justice reform for disadvantaged communities. 

  • Something we can all agree on (I hope): no one should have to do anything because of the color of their skin. People don’t really think twice when a white man says he’s a Democrat or a Republican. Yet, when a black man, woman, latino, LGBTQ+ or any other disadvantaged identity says they are conservative, people get really derisive and condescending. Don’t minorities have as much agency as the white man to pick what’s right for them and their individual situation? Grouping entire communities into political sides only exacerbates the idea that all people of a certain identity act in the same way. Minorities aren’t a monolith and we don’t need any one in politics, regardless of the agenda, telling us what to do based on the color of our skin. Mic drop. 

Spread some good

  • Chef Andres’ charity has donated over 10 million meals to frontline responders, seniors, and others in need during COVID-19. Get involved here.

  • Man who grew up without a father creates Dad, how do I? Channel for kids who need help with everyday tasks.

  • Man who struggled with depression puts up 81 happiness signs in St. Petersburg to help others in difficult times.

Quote of the week

“Merely because I was black, it seemed, I was supposed to listen to Hugh Maskela instead of Carole King, just as I was expected to be a radical, not a conservative. I no longer cared to play that game... The black people I knew came from different places and backgrounds - social, economic, even ethnic - yet the color of our skin was somehow supposed to make us identical in spite of our differences. I didn't buy it. Of course we had all experienced racism in one way or another, but that did not mean we had to think alike.” 

-Clarence Thomas 

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Thank you for walking across the aisle with us this week. Now that you have both sides of the story, it’s up to you to decide where you stand. 

 

Regardless of where you end up, we’re thankful that you read ideas that challenged your position, and we hope you’ll leave with a better understanding of the other side. See you next Wednesday!

 

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This article cites 14 liberal news sources in blue and 12 conservative news sources in red. 10 sources were considered neutral in gray. 

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