A critical rule of political expediency is candidates remembering that there are things better left unsaid publicly or said by designated surrogates. Most recent Exhibit A: Joe Biden and that “ain’t black” remark. And that’s too bad, because we know what Biden meant–and so does everyone else.
“If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or for Trump then you ain’t black,” wryly noted Biden on “The Breakfast Club,” a black-popular, syndicated morning radio show that airs on more than 100 stations nationwide. It’s a go-to stop for candidates courting black voters. He cut to the pragmatic- and -ideological chase and underscored the obvious. He wasn’t being literal–or taking the black vote for granted. Fortunately he didn’t reference “Uncle Toms.”
He wasn’t positioning himself as the arbiter of blackness. He was being brutally honest about a presidential showdown that is hardly a Hobson’s choice. Trump’s racist track record is as lengthy as it is loathsome–from red-lining New York housing and crusading for the execution of the “Central Park Five” for a gang rape they didn’t commit to his “birther” attacks on Barack Obama, his “blame on both sides” characterization of the infamous, white-power rally in Charlottesville and his ongoing tweets and re-tweets of racist commentary. And a lot more. Does Kanye West have that much cred with African-Americans?
Joe Biden, not unlike a lot of the electorate, was wondering out loud how serious black voters could even consider voting for the racially-vile occupant of the White Nationalist House. The same rhetorical question about oxymoronic fealty, frankly, could also be asked of evangelicals and women who support Trump. Is it some kind of perverse Faustian deal, classic hypocrisy or just unconscionable cluelessness?
This isn’t quibbling over discerning minorities voting Republican. If the Biden option were John Kasich, Jon Huntsman, John McCain, Mitt Romney or Jeb! Bush, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But the choice is between Biden, an imperfect, experienced, qualified candidate whose mistakes are typically political gaffes, or Trump, the avatar of immorality, sexism and racism whose mistakes are a threat to the country and the planet.
If you’re black or an evangelical or a woman and your 2020 candidate for president is Trump, the onus is on you–not Trump’s opponent–to explain what the hell you’re doing with your vote.