The Hill published an op-ed by Juan Williams this week called ‘Joe Biden is our third Black president.’ Amusingly, above the headline in bolded letters, was the disclaimer: “The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.”
Anyways, the article riffs on Toni Morrison’s twenty five year old claim that Bill Clinton was “the first Black president” in that he “broke new ground by elevating Black leaders and policies that helped Black people.” (Clinton also gutted welfare, signed the Crime Bill into law, and deregulated telecoms – policies that likely did not elevate the Black community, but that’s for another discussion.)
According to Williams, “by Morison’s standard, President Joe Biden is our nation’s third Black president.” (Barack Obama was the second.)
Yet, Biden is having trouble winning the support of Black voters – which is why last week, the Biden campaign invested $25 million into radio ad spots in Black and Latino communities stating “Joe and Kamala are getting it done for us – and that’s the facts.”
Curiously, Trump and the Republicans have been siphoning Black and Latino voters away from Biden and the Democrats. The trend is especially ironic given the left’s embrace of “woke” values, which seem to favor non-white populations.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen the polls,” Trump said. “My polls with the Black community have gone up four and five times.” Trump continued, “The Black community is so different for me…since that mug shot was taken…” Is Trump suggesting that having his mug shot taken has earned him pointers with the Black community because the Black community identifies with having their mug shot taken? That’s how many, including Juan Williams, have interpreted the statement.
Regardless, “it is true that Black enthusiasm for Biden, especially among young Black voters, is sagging,” Williams wrote. “And that concern is the reason for the advertising campaign aimed at Black voters.”
In the ads, Biden reminds Black communities that he was the first president to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court (Ketanji Brown Jackson). And that is part of the problem, I suspect. That’s the smoke and mirrors of Democratic, “woke” tactics. Biden named a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Great. But what are the policies of the Black woman that Biden assigned to the Supreme Court? This isn’t about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson – her appointment is just a microcosm of my greater critique.
That being: Democrats think that in paying lip service to Black communities, in appointing a Black person to this or that post, they can satisfy and win over the Black community. But I’m fairly positive it doesn’t work that way. And while I don’t speak for the Black community, I’ve got an idea that the Black community is hip to Biden (and the left’s) game. It’s not solely about appointing someone who represents a certain group, whatever group that may be – it’s about what that person does once appointed.
How does that person’s actions affect a certain group? The members of that certain group aren’t stupid. Simple representation isn’t the goal; the goal is policies that are beneficial; the goal, by and large, are policies that lift people up economically. For example, appointing a Black lesbian Senator is great on paper – but if that person happens to have a history of lobbying for companies (say, Uber and Airbnb) that have been harmful to the Black community, and that person, hypothetically, uses the office to promote policies or legislation that are further harmful to Black communities, those Black communities are not going to be duped into supporting that new Senator or her party simply on account of her ethnicity.
If Biden and the left want to win back minority voters, ad campaigns touting the appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson probably aren’t going to be enough – it’s going to require something more substantial on a voter to voter basis.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor and opinion writer at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.