As the debate turned to questions of race Monday night, Hillary Clinton, in an almost choreographed move, turned gravely serious, her countenance sullen, and her words slow and carefully chosen. Anything less would be political suicide, at least for the Democrats.
Then she began pandering.
“I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s really unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country. The vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people, the opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids. There’s a lot that we should be proud of and that we should be supporting and lifting up.”
This should be insulting.
Trump was visibly irritated. He had just spent two minutes defending hardworking black and Hispanic Americans by insisting that they needed “law and order” in their inner city communities to protect them from violent criminals. That message should resonate.
But Clinton wasn’t done. Everything that followed should be placed under the title, “I’m From the Government and I’m here to Help.” “We have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system…” and eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing. Forget that the very thing she criticizes was a major component of the 1994 legislation her husband signed into law. She didn’t dust off midnight basketball, but everything she talked about should have been led by a Color Me Badd bumper. “Tick tock you don’t stop.”
Then for the grand solution she argued for “common sense gun safety measures.” Clinton “believes strongly” that this would lead to a drop in violent crime. In Chicago. The city with some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. “Tick tock you don’t stop.”
For a candidate who boasts of capitalizing on opportunity, Trump has a chance to knock this one out of the park. There are still two debates left, and Clinton is vulnerable.
“Law and order” should be followed up with “opportunity.”
Trump mentioned it a few times during the debate, but what inner cities need are jobs and economic growth, two things Democratic pandering will never provide. Trump can.
Instead of Obama, the Chicagoan who skirted through school smoking dope with the “choom gang” while finding the “audacity of hope,” Trump should focus on another African-American Chicago resident, S.B. Fuller, a man who exemplified the American dream and who never took a handout even when he needed it.
Fuller said that when faced with accepting government aid in 1992 he rejected it because “It was something of a shame for people to receive relief in those days….We did not want our neighbors to know we couldn’t make it for ourselves.”
He wanted to “make it” for himself, without government aid. And this wasn’t in modern America where legal segregation is illegal and any hint of discrimination viciously prosecuted. Fuller lived in an America where opportunity for black Americans seemed muted at best. But he didn’t complain. He went to work with $25 in his pocket and a dream. That dream turned into a multimillion dollar corporation called Fuller Products.
Fuller had one advantage. American businesses then were not saddled with the mountains of red tape and regulations modern businesses face. Trump has promised to work to scale that back.
During the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, Fuller advised Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to buy the bus company and make a statement. He would have provided the capital. What better way to show America that African Americans had power than through economic muscle and entrepreneurship? King balked and Fuller was eventually forced to take his case for economic advancement to the American public on his own.
In 1963 he argued that black Americans believe “there is a racial barrier in America which keeps him from succeeding, yet if he would learn to use the laws of observation, concentration, memory, reason, and action, he would realize that there is a world of opportunity right in his own community.”
To Fuller, capitalism, not Marxist social engineering with government checks and programs, was the answer to solving crime and economic blight. Sounds like Trump, or maybe Bono, who said “Capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid.”
Maybe Bono and Trump are too 1980s, but this is the message Trump should be hammering moving forward, both for working class Americans and those stuck in inner city “hell,” as Trump described it. He wasn’t far off.
All Americans want opportunity. Clinton panders and promises government “plans” to solve problems. Trump offers jobs and economic success.
Trump did get in the best dig of the night. "The African-American community has been let down by our politicians. They talk good around election time, like right now, and after the election, they say, 'I'll see you later. I'll see you in four years.'”
"The African American community, the community within the inner cities, has been so badly treated. They've been used and abused to get votes by Democratic politicians."
Ouch. Clinton can’t win that debate.
Americans can choose opportunity or pandering. The choice should be obvious.