Friday, September 25, 2020

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming

What did Donald Trump do today?

Race relations.

Trump went to Atlanta today for another campaign stop thinly disguised as an official visit. The fact that Trump is campaigning in Georgia at all is a bad sign: Democratic candidates have only won it once since native son Jimmy Carter was in the race. 

The essence of Trump's "Platinum Plan"—that is the actual name he's given it—unveiled 90% of the way into his first term, is that Black Americans live in cities, and need money and (above all) forgiveness for crimes they've committed. 

In this respect, it's not too different from his usual rhetoric about race. Trump's actual, verbatim 2016 pitch to African-American voters was this: "You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58% of your youth is unemployed—what the hell do you have to lose?"

It's the other side of his recent voter outreach to "suburban housewives" who he's promised to protect from the "thugs" he thinks "bother" them by trying to move into their neighborhoods, by striking down desegregation rules in federal housing policy. In fact, Trump's very first appearance in the public spotlight was during a lawsuit brought by the federal government which showed he was discriminating against black prospective tenants in his apartment buildings.

As with his sudden interest yesterday in having a health care plan that might help him win senior citizens' votes, today's "Platinum Plan" had no specifics, no force of law, and no plans to be turned into legislation.

Trump also promised Black voters that he would declare the Ku Klux Klan a terrorist organization—a mostly empty legal threat which would in all likelihood make him the son of a terrorist—but the only specific acts of terror he spoke about were the ones he falsely attributed to the Black Lives Matter movement. Support for the movement is virtually unanimous among African-Americans.

Finally, he promised to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. This is not a new idea, although he took credit for making the day "very famous" when he scheduled a rally on the day itself, and in a city, Tulsa, famous for the worst anti-Black race riot in American history. According to Trump, "nobody had ever heard of it" otherwise.

So what?

  • A president who wanted to improve the lives of African-Americans would have started sooner than six weeks before an election he's likely to lose.
  • The issue that African-Americans tend to have with the criminal justice system isn't that too many of them haven't been officially granted leniency for the crimes they're accused of.