Dear Politicians: There Are No Cheat Codes To The Black Vote
First came the leaked memo that was sent throughout the Democratic Party explaining how to handle interactions with Black Lives Matter activists. The message was clear. What could’ve been an opportunity to collaborate and help end racial injustice was replaced with an attempt to pacify and patronize a group that was seen as a “radical movement.”
And, while the black community clearly has little to no faith in Donald Trump, his campaign had its own detrimental leak regarding the handling of black voters in the form of a detailed script of the pre-approved questions and answers that would be given during his visit to a predominantly black Baptist church in Detroit.
Pre-approving questions is a fairly common practice in politics, as no one wants a candidate to get caught off guard and hit the self-destruct button on their own campaign. But the detailed script, which likely called on suggestions from multiple black Republicans, shows how lightly Trump needs to tread when it comes to speaking to an all-black audience. The careful booking here is even more detailed than what you’d see in a professional wrestling promo.
[To be fair, whenever he speaks about helping minorities, he’s ironically doing it in front of crowds that are mostly white. So this is very new territory for him.]
These two leaks happening almost simultaneously reveal one fact about politicians and their way of thinking. To paraphrase BLM’s response to the memo about them surfacing, politicians clearly would much rather handle black communities than hear them out. Since they’re apparently working with this assumption, let’s make something clear.
There is no cheat code to gaining the black vote. More importantly, there’s no easy way to gain the trust and loyalty of black communities.
Depending on your level of faith in U.S. politics, it could either be surprising or predictable that politicians on both sides of the aisle use similar tactics when it comes to interacting with black communities. While we’re in one of the most public eras of black social activism in recent memory, it’s something that can’t be ignored as it once was.
Now that the Black Lives Matter movement and its supporters have made enough noise, politicians from the left to the right and everywhere in between are forced to acknowledge them. But that’s clearly all they plan to do. Phrasing such as “Don’t offer support” for “concrete policy positions” regarding BLM makes that clear enough.
It’s likely that these tactics have always been used in politics. But these leaks have opened many eyes to their existence, or confirmed suspicions. If politicians still want to garner the trust of black communities, they’ve got much more ground to cover now that the curtain’s been pulled back.
So, while everyone’s watching, they must go back to the drawing board and find a way to convince us that they actually care about black voices.
Photo: Wiki Commons