Trump’s latest racist claims won’t solve his general election problem
Even before an audience of Black conservatives, Trump couldn't refrain from making racist jokes. Here, he speaks at the Black Conservative Federation's Annual BCF Honors Gala in Columbia, S.C., Feb. 23, 2024. On stage, from left: former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., and Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas. | Andrew Harnik / AP

Convicted rapist and criminally indicted Donald Trump made the outrageous assertion last weekend that his support among African Americans has grown as a result of his mugshot appearing in public and the four criminal charges he faces.

He said there are strong similarities between the alleged “persecution of Trump” and the legacy of discrimination against Black people in the U.S. legal system.

The remarks followed his announcement of sales of a new line of gold MAGA sneakers which he and numerous Fox and other right-wing pundits claim also appeal to Black Americans.

Lately, Trump has been regularly talking about the alleged increase in his levels of support among Black voters before audiences populated by his racist white backers. Many of those in the crowds who believe Trump’s latest racist garbage are victims of the brainwashing that is part of the racist infrastructure of U.S. society. They make up a core part of his extreme right-wing base.

Trump says his police mugshot is ‘popular’ with Black voters because they see his legal woes as comparable to the historic persecution of Black Americans by the racist criminal justice system. | Via TruthSocial

Struggling to expand beyond the base

Try as he might, though, Trump cannot ignore that in all the Republican contests so far, about 40% of GOP primarygoers voted against him. And polls show that at least one in five Republicans nationally have said they will never vote for Trump. In the latest South Carolina GOP primary, he garnered 59.5% of the vote, a disastrous showing for someone running essentially as an incumbent president.

The New York Times and other papers that heralded his “huge victory” there failed to note that the results show that, unless he expands beyond his extreme right-wing base, he will lose the election to Biden in November.

The only thing that can kill Biden’s push for re-election at this time would be his own administration’s refusal to reverse its policy of total support to the Israeli war on Gaza. Despite remarks by the president that he will support some type of temporary ceasefire, thus far, the arms Israel gets to carry out genocide in Gaza continue to be provided by the Biden administration.

Black and young voters, along with Arab Americans, are at the forefront of the opposition to Biden’s policy and are strong in key battleground states like Michigan. It is issues like Gaza and the economy that are top of mind for many of these voters, contrary to whatever Trump might be claiming.

In addition to his heightened appeals to racism, Trump is stirring up more and more hatred against immigrants, in hopes of growing his support that way. But the anti-immigrant rhetoric has not prevented even the very conservative 40% of Republican voters in primaries thus far from voting against him.

Also, his support for a 16-week national abortion ban is not convincing women to forget that by installing right-wingers on the Supreme Court in his first administration, Trump became the author of the destruction of Roe.

A long history of racism

“I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing,” Trump told attendees of the Black Conservative Federation’s gala in Columbia, S.C., ahead of the state’s primary. “And a lot of people said that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against.”

Trump talked about the mug shot taken in Georgia after he was indicted for trying to steal the election in that state. “When I did the mug shot in Atlanta, that mug shot is No. 1,” he said, adding: “You know who embraced it more than anyone else? The Black population.”

First, there is absolutely no evidence that anyone in the Black community has embraced his mug shot. Second, there is no evidence of any meaningful increase in Black support for Trump, certainly not the type of increase he talks about.

Trump has a long history of racism. From his earliest days as a New York real estate developer, Trump has carried out racist practices in dealing with both contractors and tenants.

In 1989, he took out full-page newspaper ads calling for New York State to reinstate the death penalty as five Black and Latino teenagers were set to stand trial for allegedly beating and raping a white woman in Central Park. The men were exonerated in 2002 after another man admitted to the crime and it was determined their confessions were the result of police torture.

Ahead of the 2008 election, Trump spread the lie that Obama was ineligible to hold office.

When he was president, Trump attacked “shithole countries” in Africa and said four congressional representatives, all women of color, should go back to the “broken and crime-infested” countries they came from, ignoring the fact that all of the women were U.S. citizens and three were born in the U.S.

Infused racist jokes into speech

At the black-tie fundraiser in South Carolina, Trump was joined on stage by Republican Black elected officials, including Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida and Wesley Hunt of Texas. Many in the crowd cheered throughout the speech.

Trump peddles golden MAGA sneakers at Philadelphia’s Sneaker Con. He said that his golden shoes, priced at $399 per pair, will make him popular with young Black voters. | AP

But even before an audience of Black conservatives, Trump could not help infusing racist jokes and other outrageous remarks into his speech.

“The lights are so bright in my eyes I can’t see too many people out there. But I can only see the Black ones. I can’t see any white ones. That’s how far I’ve come,” Trump said to laughter from the audience.

He also said that he knew many Black people because his properties were built by Black construction workers.

In telling a story about how he allegedly lowered prices the government had to pay for Air Force One, Trump criticized his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, the first Black person to be elected to the White House.

“I have to tell you, Black president, but I got $1.7 billion less,” Trump said. “Would you rather have the Black president or the white president who got $1.7 billion off the price?”

As the crowd cheered, he added, “I think they want the white guy.”

Democrats blasted the speech, with former Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, a co-chair of Biden’s re-election campaign, saying that “Donald Trump claiming that Black Americans will support him because of his criminal charges is insulting. It’s moronic. And it’s just plain racist.”

“He thinks Black voters are so uninformed that we won’t see through his shameless pandering,” Richmond said in a statement. “He has another thing coming.”

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.