Kathleen Parker: The Trump is no Ronald Reagan

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump says he has a great relationship with “the Blacks,” I wonder if he also gets along well with the Smiths. We know he’s tight with the Whites.  But what’s with the definite article?

During a brief dalliance with Google, I learned that Trump has used “the” before whites at least once — when commenting that Black Entertainment Television doesn’t offer awards to “the whites.” But for the most part, he reserves “the” for “the blacks,” or, as most people would say, blacks, if they don’t say African-Americans.

Oftentimes, you’ll find the word “people” following black, as in: (BEG ITAL)Black people are people, too,(END ITAL) which is what I want to say to Trump every time he says, “the blacks.”

“The blacks” is such an odd way of referring to any group of people (the Asians, the whites, the Latinos) precisely because it does what it shouldn’t. “The,” as Trump uses it, effectively functions as a separatist term, which tells us a great deal about Trump’s attitude toward, if I may, black people. Even while insisting that he has a good  relationship with “the blacks,” Trump betrays an objectifying posture that would suggest otherwise. I don’t doubt that he has friends who happen to be black or black employees with whom he is cordial, if not friendly. At a certain economic level, race erases itself and racial identity becomes irrelevant.

But these associations are quite apart from speaking to a broad African-American community, not to mention non-African-American people of color, or from having empathy for minority groups.
Digging up old photos of Trump snuggling with Al Sharpton is laughable as evidence that Trump has any connection to a diverse community of black people.

Nor is speaking to a largely African-American community in Detroit — or to an Iowa rally of mostly whites about “the blacks” — likely to shift Trump’s dismal poll numbers showing that his appeal to black voters is approximately commensurate with the number of older white males who pray for a President Hillary Clinton.

This, among other reasons, is why Trump most likely will not be the next president of the United States. You can’t fake love, and nothing’s worse than a would-be wooer who says all the wrong things.

Trump can still win the presidency without blacks, but he can’t win without a healthy chunk of non-white voters, including Hispanics and Asians, whose numbers have dramatically increased the past couple of decades.

Nor can the Republican Party long survive without attracting minorities and young voters. The truth is, whites determined to get their country back would do better to skip the Trump rallies and invest in some new bed linens and champagne — for romance, silly. A little bubbly between the sheets will grow the white voting bloc far more efficiently than building walls with definite articles and eye-rollingly insulting pandering.

The future of the Republican Party and the presidency comes down to simple math. White birth rates are down to almost nil. Minorities are swelling the electorate with high birth rates and immigration. This can be done without a calculator.

Given Trump’s egregious, minority-slamming rhetoric, combined with his uniquely offensive charm, there seems little chance he’ll be pulling in enough non-white votes to win. Meanwhile, the white electorate is shrinking. In 2012, whites were 72 percent of the electorate, compared with 88 percent in 1992. Estimates by GOP pollster Whit Ayres are that the 2016 electorate will be 69 percent white and 31 percent non-white. Thankfully, we acknowledge Ayres’ book, “2016 and Beyond,” in which he does the math so we don’t have to.

So let’s say that Trump wins the same number of white votes that Mitt Romney did in 2012 — 59 percent. He still needs 30 percent of non-white votes to win the election, according to Ayres. Recent history offers little hope of this outcome: Romney won only 17 percent of the non-white vote and John McCain just 19 percent.
Alternatively, Ayres suggests that if Trump doesn’t exceed Romney’s 17 percent non-white vote, then he’ll need a whopping 65 percent of white votes to win, and droves of white Republicans have already abandoned ship. Moreover, such a landslide has happened only once in the past 40 years — in 1984, when the Republican nominee won 66 percent of white votes, as well as 9 percent of blacks.

Needless to say, The Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

Email: kathleenparker@washpost.com

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