There was a time the Democratic Party was home to many of America’s leading lights on race relations — people who were willing to ignore or even defy mainstream opinion to advance a cause they knew to be right and just. Black Americans enthusiastically gravitated toward that, even overlooking the privately bigoted views of many of Democrat leaders. Before long, however, the Democrat establishment began to take our support for granted, paying lip service to the cause of racial justice on the campaign trail, but then perpetuating an unjust status quo in office.
From his earliest days in politics, Joe Biden has employed this cynical strategy with infuriating consistency. As he reminded voters just last year, he proudly collaborated with openly segregationist colleagues during his early days in the U.S. Senate, a time when he was also an adamant foe of integrating America’s public schools.
Two decades later, Biden led the charge to implement one of the most racially discriminatory policy regimes since the end of Jim Crow: the “tough-on-crime” criminal justice laws of the late 1980s and early ‘90s, describing his position as “lock the S.O.B.’s up.” Most notoriously, he played a leading role in crafting the notorious 1994 crime bill that dramatically increased the incarceration rate for Black Americans, ushering in an era of mass incarceration that devastated our communities for generations.
That record didn’t hurt him when he sought reelection in lily-white Delaware, and as his ambitions took him to greater national prominence, he arrogantly expected that a “-D” after his name would be all he needed to secure the votes of millions of Black Americans.
Biden’s patronizing description of Barack Obama as the first “clean” mainstream African American candidate wasn’t even the most offensive remark he uttered during the 2008 campaign cycle. That distinction goes to his claim that he would appeal to Southern white voters because his home state of Delaware was a slave state that sided with the North in the Civil War.
Four years later, while campaigning for reelection as Obama’s vice president, Biden shamelessly told Black voters that Republicans would “put y’all back in chains” — a bitter irony considering the role Biden himself had played in locking up generations of Black Americans.
Nothing has changed since then — Biden still expects Black people to compliantly cast their votes for him despite the fact that he has done nothing for us. In this election cycle, Biden went from insulting Black folks with his claim that “poor kids are just as smart as white kids” to presumptuously declaring that “you ain’t Black” if you don’t vote for him in this election — a perspective evidently informed by his belief that there is barely any diversity in the Black community.
President Trump is Biden’s polar opposite. While Biden was turning a blind eye to the rioting, looting, and indiscriminate violence afflicting Democrat-run cities all over the country this summer, the President was demanding that Democrat governors and mayors allow their police forces to restore law and order, pointing out that destroying small businesses in majority-Black communities does nothing to advance the cause of racial justice but does negatively impact the people who live in those communities.
Whereas Biden assumes that Black people will turn out in droves to vote for him despite his long history of working against our interests, President Trump is grateful for every Black vote he receives, rightly viewing that support as vindication of his successful efforts to empower and uplift Black Americans.
As a result of the Blue Collar Boom created by the Trump administration’s pro-growth economic policies, for instance, the Black unemployment rate reached multiple all-time lows prior to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Even more importantly, Donald Trump achieved something that Democrat politicians have been promising for decades, yet always failed to deliver: criminal justice reform that corrects the gross injustices that Biden helped to put in place all those years ago. Thanks to the FIRST STEP Act, thousands of non-violent Black inmates have been able to earn early release, and thousands more have received help developing the personal and professional skills necessary to become productive members of society.
In this respect, President Trump is the one who is carrying on the legacy of past civil rights crusaders, working diligently to do what’s right despite knowing that he might never receive widespread recognition.
Joe Biden had half a century to improve conditions for Black Americans, but he chose racial demagoguery instead. President Trump did more for the Black community in less than four years than Biden did in over four decades.