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Est. April 5, 2002
May 16, 2019 - Issue 789

Countering Republican Strategies
2020 Victories

"Along with anti-abortion measures, the Trump coalition
continues to push anti-immigrant/anti-minority policies
to ramp up his base to turn out in large numbers and to
widen cleavages in the Democratic base—between the
socialist left and the mainstream, and within
the African American community."

Republicans are pursuing multiple, interrelated strategies in their efforts to win 2020 national and local elections. Among them are anti-abortion laws: 250 restrictions in 11 states in 2019, the introduction of heartbeat bills (abortions declared illegal after six weeks), and Texas and Alabama having developed bills to ban abortions outright. Trump and his supplicants are relying on the evangelicals to aggressively promote these anti-abortion initiatives at the state level and for Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to be the lead advocates when these cases reach the Supreme Court of the United States.

The ultimate objective is to overturn Roe v. Wade which will be a rallying wedge issue in the 2020 state-level and national campaigns where Republicans hope to reclaim the Alabama Senate seat and push Trump over the top again.

The targeted states are in the Red South and the Mountain West with a hope that Republicans can hold on to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to squeeze out another presidential victory, retake the House, and hold on to the Senate. Along with anti-abortion measures, the Trump coalition continues to push anti-immigrant/anti-minority policies to ramp up his base to turn out in large numbers and to widen cleavages in the Democratic base—between the socialist left and the mainstream, and within the African American community.

Regarding the latter, Trump was successful in garnering eight percent of black male voters in 2016. Couple that reality with the lower voter turnout of black men, overall, as compared to black women in 2016, and the approximately 70,000 combined votes that Hillary lost the Electoral College by in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, one could reasonably argue that African American males were major contributors to Trump’s victory. (It should be noted that Wisconsin Democrats reversed that trend in the 2018, resulting in Republicans being removed from every statewide office, with only U.S. Senator Ron Johnson left to carry the Republican banner. A Democrat also beat a Republican candidate for governor in Michigan.)

Hillary’s assumption that black men would vote for her despite her having called them ‘super predators,’ supporting a mass incarceration policy, refusing to give a full-throated apology, declining to fund a grassroots approach to turn them out, and relying on Barack and Michelle to deliver their votes proved to be a stupid plan. As Democrats head into the 2020 elections, they may be taking their eyes off the ball again. Democrats appear to be lacking in the proper care and feeding of key components of their constituency: millennials, voters of color, and teachers.

Moreover, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the current political flavor of the month, (along with Bernie Sanders) has come out hard against ‘identity politics’ in his effort to reach across the political aisle—to Trump voters. Democrats continue to be obsessed with the view that they must go after them in order to win. What they fail to realize is that Hillary lost because rank-and-file Democrats reviled her and that she campaigned as if she was next in line for a coronation rather than having to win an election. The bottom line is that Hillary defeated Hillary due to her condescension to votes and the general dislike of her as a person across party lines. Barack and Michelle’s valiant soldiering could not overcome that defect.

Democrats fail to recognize that their presidential standard bearers over the last 10 elections have received between 39 and 44 percent of the white vote. Their margins of victory for Carter, Clinton, and Obama were an above average “identity politics” turnout in states that Democrats did not traditionally carry in the modern era—e.g., Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Thus, minorities, young people, teachers, union members, and other traditional Democratic voting demographics were the reasons for victory.

The prevailing perspective among the twenty plus 2020 Democratic presidential candidates is to pick off Trump voters rather than to reinforce their own. And Trump’s examples in this regard are in plain sight. Not a week passes when he does not feed his base with anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-abortion, and anti-media attacks, or all of the aforementioned, while quietly sending positive messages to the Democrat’s minority base.

Trump’s First Step Act, a major criminal justice reform which incentivizes ex-prisoners to enroll in evidenced-based programs to prevent disproportionately minority ex-prisoners from being re-incarcerated, is also supported by the corporate Cartel of education reformers that includes the Koch Bros. The irony is that the same people, who have profited from mass incarceration, charter schools, and other educational privatization initiatives, are now profiting, public relations-wise, from advancing plans to reduce mass imprisonment.

And Trump is benefitting from the media promotion of a well-known and popular African American CNN anchor and former Obama Administration official, Van Jones, (although Trump continues to be relentless in his criticism of the network) to praise both First Step and Trump incessantly on his show. Jones has also created the Redemption Project which gives the Trump Administration an even more positive view as Jones persistently heralds its criminal justice reforms.

This is also subtle, indirect outreach to the mass African American community as was Trump’s earlier pardoning of the late first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, and Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug conviction, after Obama had declined to pardon either of them despite several requests during his two terms in office.

For those upper middle-class African Americans who say such gestures do not matter, I am reminded of the late first black Nobel Laureate, Ralph J. Bunche, who said in the 1940s, “… that the Negro elite knows little, if any, more about the Negro in the mass than does the average white man.” A case in point is the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election where low-income African American school choice parents were decisive in a razor thin win for Republican Ron DeSantis over his Democratic black opponent, Andrew Gillum. Trump has been able to go around the so-called black leadership to reach a segment of the black population which is proving critical at crucial times.

The bottom line is that he and Republicans are united in their tactics to regain and hold on to political power. And they are enjoying some success in luring House Democrats into an impeachment voter that would further solidify the Republican political phalanx. It seems that Democrats are chasing déjà vu all over again. Are they smart enough to see the trap that has been set for them?

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
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