By SKC Ogbonnia
Let me start by disclosing that I have been a Republican throughout my years in America . This affinity is shaped by my values as an African. For we are fundamentally religious, pro-life, support prayers in school and advocate school choice. More profoundly, we promote traditional marriage between a man and a woman. We also work very hard, strongly oppose higher taxes, and are very cold to radical feminism. These conservative principles are widely shared by most people of colour as well as the Republican Party.
Therefore, even as the minorities have generally owed their allegiance to the Democratic Party in recent decades, there is always a high possibility for a dramatic shift. Such shift had seemed ripe in the 2016 presidential election that determines which party takes over from President Barack Obama.
Propelled to power on the mantra of hope and change, Obama has been painted as opaque by the minority groups that anchored his journey to Pennsylvania Avenue . Without a doubt, he has recorded a measurable success in the general polity, especially considering the gloomy spectre upon assumption of office. But the minorities remain peeved that the election of one of their own as president has not reflected the desired change in their immediate communities. More strikingly, the Hispanics feel betrayed that Obama has deported more illegal aliens than others before him. And the black elites are not enthused that President George W. Bush showed more interest and did more for Africa than the first African American president.
Yet I am joining the vast majority of the American minority to support the Democratic Party in this electoral cycle. This is noteworthy because it means endorsing a party that has nothing in common with me. My reason, though, is simple: Donald J. Trump.Trump is truly deplorable. He neither shares Republican ideals nor conservative values. But to gain political prominence, Trump would embrace the Tea Party, a hateful fringe sect within the Republican Party that constantly stokes racism, hegemony, and xenophobia. With the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Sean Hannity then stale voices; Trump became a fresh echo-chamber to the birther conspiracy. The birther goal, of course, was to delegitimize the first African American President by falsely claiming that Obama was not born in the United States .
The birther scam ultimately endeared Trump to the ultra-conservative right-wing America . But it also sowed a deep seed of discord with the black population. His perceived shortcomings within the African American community notwithstanding, any serious jab on President Obama remains a personal slap on any black face.
But the real estate billionaire was not done. By the summer of 2015, Trump noticed that the very extremist right-wing lane was wide open in a Republican field of 17 presidential candidates. And he was set to go full circle. The gambit this time was to rubbish the other major minority group in a manner never witnessed in history.
By the minute he was done with his eventual announcement for a presidential bid, the Latino image in America would never be the same. Donald Trump simply branded their immigrants as drug-pushers, criminals, rapists, scum-bags, and much worse. And his target audience roared in agreement. Trump’s toxic rhetoric did not hinder his meteoric rise to the Republican nomination. For extremism has been a wining tonic for primary voters. After all, the American electorate is very forgiving. Any logical pivot to the center is typically welcome for the general election. But this case is entirely different. Mr. Trump is the antithesis of political logic, and that is where his dream of the White House became a mirage. The objective point is that the man actually knew where to start but did not know where not to go: Courting the minority votes.
Often ignored in the electoral debate is that Trump once had the chance to gamble his way to the Oval Office, if the minority voters had remained lukewarm about the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. While Trump’s right-wing supporters had shown steady enthusiasm, the minority voters were ambivalent about the 2016 polls altogether. But that was then.
Trump, since then, has attempted to reap where he did not sow by pandering to the minorities. He has shuttled to Mexico , assembled at a black church, and called his opponent a bigot. But the manner of the outreach is definitely deplorable and has backfired. The whole maneuver has finally exposed him as an erratic goofball. Even his message on immigration, the very signature campaign issue, has become so incoherent that the few Latino leaders on his camp are fleeing while his base supporters are beginning to grow in doubt.
More broadly, the brazen outreach woke up the Democrats early enough. They have come to realize that minority votes must not be taken for granted this time, and they are now countering with specific policies. Worst for Trump, the press as well as the Democratic leaders have masterfully brought to fore Mrs. Clinton’s tireless attention to minority communities while at same time exhuming his life-long iniquities against people of colour.
Race is now left, right, and center of the presidential election; and that is not a winning proposition for the real estate mogul. For example, a recent survey by USA Today and Suffolk University has revealed that a stunning 44% of likely voters think that Donald Trump is a racist. For the Quinnipiac poll, a majority of Americans believe the Republican nominee “appeals to bigotry.” The political optics is that the potential US president is a racist.
This racial spectacle has emboldened Mrs. Clinton to expose a cache of fetid sins against Trump. She has already called out his linkage to Alt Right, a right wing group that advocates white supremacy. She would double down by openly declaring a group of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables…racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.”
The minorities now fully get it. Not only do they now see a fighter in Hillary, they are profoundly provoked.
Ogbonnia writes fromTexas, USA