The unforeseen successes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders during this Presidential primary season have left the political class dumbfounded. The reality TV star and real estate mogul seems to have blindsided many true conservative ideologues, while the avowed Democratic socialist continues to stymie the Obama Democratic coalition. Donald Trump looks to be an uncontrollable beast preparing for a general election fight, while the destiny of the Bernie Sanders campaign has the looks of a slow and painful death.
What seems more painful to many Americans is the fact that Donald Trump’s campaign looks to continue on strong, even after his recent statements on abortion.
Trump said that abortion should be banned — with exceptions— and that the women who receive abortions should then be punished.
This is extremely problematic for African Americans, because Black women are over three times more likely to obtain an abortion than White women. Black women receive 30% of all abortions, while at the same time being less than 15% of the entire population. The ideal course of punishment for a country that over-incarcerates minorities at a disproportionate rate could be the jail cell.
Young Black men have been the primary target of the prison industrial complex, but this could make young Black women the new target. This might sound farfetched to some, but remember that the next President will most likely have an opportunity to name two or three new Supreme Court Justices. This brings together the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned, which would begin a new assault on African Americans and women in this country. The stakes are too high in this election for anyone to sit out, especially in communities of color.
There weren’t many African Americans involved in the recent Super Saturday Democratic contests. Hawaii, Alaska and Washington seemed to be impressive wins for Sanders until you combine the entire allocated delegate count for all three states, and come out with a number less than Ohio’s. Then to make a disappointing situation worse, add almost 100 to the number allocated to Ohio and you come out with “Texas.” Both of those states were won largely by Clinton.
Still, this has been a great campaign season for Sanders, who has overachieved in many ways. The key to both Trump and Sanders’ success has been rooted in a distraught group of White Americans, who are voicing the visceral feelings of economic disenfranchisement, alienation and a dramatic change in cultural demographics.
The billionaire and the Democratic socialist are, in different ways, speaking up for the same populations of Americans who feel threatened by globalization. This is a population who question the benefits of “free trade” that elected officials have peddled for years, and who believe the control of the economy in ways is determined by the elites to create an oligarchy.
In 1980, about half of all the U.S. counties — 1,412 of them — had populations that were almost all (98 percent or more) White. In 2014, there were only 149 counties that could be described in the same way.
According to Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, Whites are on track to lose their majority status by 2042. Immigration and intermarriage looks to be a major reason: the White share of the population is projected to decrease by 6 percent between 2010 and 2050.
A survey by the Public Religion Research institute shows that 31 percent of White people believe that “the idea of an America where most people are not White” bothers them.
This anxiety explains the America that Trump is trying to take America back to. Of course, this country has always had its problems, which has raised questions about what America Trump actually wants to take us back to. The country Trump supporters are remembering so fondly is a country where almost everyone around them looked the same – White.
However, many White Americans are still better off than Africans Americans, as a whole, with its shrinking majority.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported in February 2016 that the African American unemployment rate was double (8.8%) that of White Americans (4.3%). In the African American community, we are seeing that there are not enough jobs paying decent wages. There is also a major problem with drugs and alcoholism, high crime and the public school system is failing our children. There is a lot at stake for the African American community this fall.
With all of this on the line, we are watching Sanders’ supporters promise not to vote for Clinton in the general election. Clinton has overwhelmingly received the support of the Obama coalition of Black and Latino minority voters. This protest by Sanders’ supporters could hand the White House over to Donald Trump. There is a new social media movement known as #BernieOrBust to support this idea.
Many of Sanders’ supporters consist of a large number of White liberals, who have pledged to exercise their privilege this fall. This is the privilege of sitting out an election of this magnitude, in protest, which is only an opportunity afforded to well-off Americans.
In 2000, we watched a similar protest of Al Gore’s candidacy, when 97,488 voters cast their ballots for Ralph Nader in Florida. Gore lost by only 537 votes and cost him the election.
One of Sanders’ supporters, Susan Sarandon, recently adopted the Leninist model by saying she might prefer Donald Trump because he’d bring about revolution. Sarandon and the other White liberal Americans, who enjoy an employment rate below the nation average, might be able to survive a Trump presidency, just as many communities survived the Bush years.
However, New Orleans and many other Black communities are still recovering from George W. Bush; while thousands of other families are still grieving over the loss of their loved ones who were sent to Iraq. Taking this country back to the Ronald Reagan-era might not sound so bad to some folks, but African Americans should be terrified.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanders’ supporters decide to vote for Trump in the end. Trump is dipping into the same anger that attracted many voters to Sanders. Independent voters have spoken about the dilemma of voting for either Sanders or Trump in the open primaries.
Both of these populist candidates represent a blow to the establishment. Trump is not bought out by big money donors because he is mostly funding his own campaign. Trump doesn’t have a super Pac or receive big money from Wall Street. Trump and Sanders seem to also find common ground on foreign policy and trade.
Donald Trump seems closer to Sanders than Clinton on many of the issues important to most of the independent Sanders’ supporters. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump makes a move to take full advantage of this anger in White America. He can do this by speaking to Sanders’ supporters in the fall about taking money out of politics, a non-interventionist foreign policy, trade and taking down the political establishment.
Meanwhile, as many are focused on taking down Wall Street, African Americans should be focused on rebuilding Black Wall Street and electing a president to build on the progress of the first African American president. The political revolution began in 2008, and now is the time to keep it going.