Did Trump make segways in the black community that aren’t so obvious on the surface?  Our political analyst Richard Wagner  looks at possibility that a low turn out of the black community was actually a passive support for Donald Trump.

There are three demographics that handed the crucial swing states over to Trump.  The obvious is the blue collar Democrats in the rust belt states.  We all know their reasoning – they support Trump’s trade deals because they want their jobs back.  Then there was Florida’s Cuban population.  They are Hispanic, but unlike most Hispanics in the US, they go majority Republican, and this election was no different.  But the least obvious demographic that helped Trump with this election was African Americans.  

Many say that Trump only got 8% of the black vote. Very true.   Only 8% . However, this 8% is actually 1 point higher than 2012 with Mitt Romney.  A 1% increase in black support for the Republican candidate is only part of the story, however.

The possible tactic Trump support from black voters

It’s often said – if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.  The logic of this statement being that you can’t complain about what you didn’t at least try to fix.  However, what if non-voting is a form of protest?  Voter turnout overall was very low in this election cycle at 55.4%, compared to 63.7% in 2008, but it was even lower for African Americans.

12% of the electorate was African-American this year, compared to 13% in 2012.  The media wonders why blacks weren’t motivated to vote for Clinton as they were for Obama?

However, maybe a better question would be why there were motivated – to not vote?

There has been significant anger about this whole election, and justifiably so.  

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are quite possibly the two most disliked frontrunner candidates in the history of US presidential elections.  A band called “Prophets of Rage” was recently formed of former members or “Rage Against the Machine”, “Cypress Hill”, and “Public Enemy” – a nice eclectic mix.  Their slogan is “Make America Rage Again”.  They’ve made it clear that they don’t consider either of these candidates worth supporting.  

This rage has also been expressed by “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators of every color, with chants of “She’s killing black people!  Don’t vote for Hillary!”

The message from black America, across the political spectrum

Alicia Garza, largely credited with starting the “Black Lives Matter” movement, has stated “The Clintons use black people for votes, but then don’t do anything for black communities.”  Needless to say, Garza is no Trump supporter.  But looking to the “other side of the aisle”, what Ms. Garza says is almost identical to the message coming from Diamond and Silk , two of Trump’s most passionate supporters.  

Hank Newsome, a BLM activist, started the “I ain’t voting” movement within the larger “Black Lives Matter” movement.  The purpose is not to be apathetic.  The purpose is to protest the whole electoral process until the major parties address the problems facing the black community.  Newsome fully acknowledged that by not voting, he was handing the country to Trump.

Theory of passive support

It’s likely that most blacks who didn’t vote are not that eager to vocalize their reasons and we can’t read their minds.  However, it could be difficult to refute a whole notion of this election cycle and how the importance of each vote was really making a difference in so many narrow swing states.

Aside from the rust belt, North Carolina decided this race.  Like most southern states, there is a white majority that votes mostly Republican, and a black minority that votes mostly Democratic.  Normally, North Carolina’s electoral votes would have been safely in the Republican column.  

But this election was so different.

Yes, North Carolina was very close.  Black voters of North Carolina know that they are the voting base of the Democratic Party in that state.  If Hillary Clinton was going to win North Carolina, it was going to be because black voter turnout was high.  But instead, we saw the exact opposite.  Why?  

We don’t know if by not showing up they were passively supporting Trump, but what we do know is that they did not support Hillary.

By staying at home, the black community has indirectly supported Donald Trump. What are the chances that they did not know that by staying at home they would indirectly support Trump? All they had to do was to stay home and it would have been the same end result as if they had went out to circle Trump’s name on the voting ballot.

They couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump, but if they were against him, they had a chance to come out and support Hillary. It did not happen. It did not happen despite the music royality Jay Z and Beyonce. It did not happen despite the calls from President Barack Obama and the First Lady.

When Trump gave his speech in Michigan addressing the problems of the black community, it wasn’t enough to cause blacks to break with the roughly thirty year pattern of voting over 90% Democratic.  But it was just enough for them to question their convictions.  

A black female student of mine, whom I will keep confidential, told me that one thing she can say for Trump, his statement “What do you have to lose?” resonated with her.  

Trump made an effort to try to understand black voters.  I believe black voters saw it.  They saw that Trump, while he’s never walked a mile in their shoes, was at least trying.  They saw the media twisting his words to maintain racial divisions, and they see that to the DNC, black votes matter.  They also know how much outsourcing has contributed to poverty in the US, especially in their communities.

So they used one of the few real powers they have, and withheld their votes from Hillary Clinton. Even if Trump does nothing for them, they’ve lost nothing.  But maybe, just maybe, Trump will surprise us all. President Elect Trump, now is your chance!

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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