The pitch to African-Americans a year ago from candidate Donald Trump still resonates.
Approximately one year after Trump upset Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, he has quickly and loudly provided the answer to that cliffhanger of a question he put before individuals of color at a Michigan rally where Trump unabashedly asked for the Black vote.
“What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said.
Fifteen months later — one year after his election and 11 months into his presidency — Trump has done no less than trample on African-Americans. Worse, to many, he appears to be pushing America back to the Jim Crow era with even more sinister objectives.
“Dignity has been snatched, honesty has been snatched, mindfulness has been snatched,” said Tony Scruggs, a former Major League Baseball player who played for the Texas Rangers under the ownership of former President George W. Bush. “I feel overwhelmed by the hurt my pre-civil rights [movement] parents feel, as they see all their efforts wiped away.
“They rejoiced as we saw President Obama take us from shackles and grief to commander in chief and then to see public civility deteriorate for their post-civil rights baby. It’s just decimating for them,” he said.
What the hell do African-Americans have to lose? When the ill-intended GOP failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Trump issued executive orders to gut Obama’s signature healthcare law, decimating Medicaid and Medicare and taking away subsidies that allow the middle class and the poor to have coverage.
Trump’s tax plan takes away deductions that reduces the tax burden for minorities and all of those who classify as middle class and poor — as well as senior citizens. He has repeatedly tried to undermine Obama’s legacy and he has try to snatch the authenticity of Obama’s presidency — continuing his claim that the 44th president wasn’t born in the United States.
In August, white supremacists and neo-Nazis staged a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in part to protest against the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
A woman lost her life when a white nationalist drove his car into a group of counterprotesters, yet Trump stubbornly refused to denounce the racists. He’s since maintained his position that such statues are a part of “America’s heritage” and should be left alone.
Trump condemned mostly black NFL players for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, saying “those sons of b—–s” should be banned.
The president has also continued a disastrous public battle with an African-American Gold Star widow who said Trump only exacerbated her grief when he called ostensibly to extend condolences.
Ninety-four percent of the black voters in a Quinnipiac University poll published in October said they believed Trump is not fit to serve as president.
About the same number — 95 percent — said they did not approve of the way he is handling race relations.
“A divider, responsible for the deepening chasm of racial discord,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll of 1,412 voters nationwide. “That is the inescapable characterization of President Trump from voters who see race relations deteriorating on his watch.”
Steven Cruz, the president of Resuelve, Inc., a District-based political campaign, issue advocacy and corporate branding consulting firm, said presidents are a product of their time and, with some notable exceptions, have been representative of the pulse of the nation in their policymaking.
“Lincoln is an example of a president that bucked the trends and he did so in order to create better conditions for all Americans. Trump is another example of a president that is not in-line with the majority of the country,” Cruz said.
“He is regressive in an unprecedented way, a throwback to some of the ugliest moments in our history,” he said.
Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, the continued calls for a border wall, his failure to swiftly and unequivocally denounce and rebuke white supremacists in Charlottesville, the rhetoric surrounding the NFL “take a knee” protests, the way he has handled the humanitarian crisis developing in Puerto Rico, voter suppression efforts under the guise of preventing election fraud are all examples of his stance on minorities, Cruz said, noting that he could cite various other examples.
“The conditions of minorities in this country has continued to improve over the past 30 years, as the arch of progress bends towards equality,” Cruz said. “However, President Trump has taken stances that clearly mark him as a president only concerned with his base and not the welfare and wellbeing of all Americans.”
Robyn Mancell, the co-founder of Girls Gone Forex, which teaches women how to trade in the foreign exchange/Forex market, said the obvious problem with Trump is his lack of sensitivity toward those he doesn’t identify with.
“I think it has more to do with bias than it does with prejudice,” said Mancell, an African-American mother of three. “He has no real interaction with certain groups of people and that is why he can’t relate, which is similar to most people who do not associate with or have history with certain groups of people.
“How he feels is nothing new, it’s because of social media that we’re made more aware,” she said. “I’m 58. … Young people thought times had changed and they got comfortable. Hate and bigotry are more easily accessible with the internet. I don’t have anything to lose — in fact, it’s the best time to make some gains.”
Still, Cruz said Trump fashions himself a culture warrior and is more concerned with waging this imaginary war than with actual policymaking.
“Questioning the fitness of a federal judge based on his ethnicity, the issuance of executive orders that seek to return us to the failed policies of zero tolerance and mandatory minimums that disproportionately affect minorities, and his inability to deliver on the promise of healthcare and tax reform are all indicators of the president’s misplaced priorities,” he said.