As Donald Trump engages in a twisted pattern of denial after losing the presidency to Joe Biden by nearly five million votes, media pundits have begun to talk about how Trump’s refusal to concede contradicts the will of the people.
I disagree. Trump’s frivolous voter fraud lawsuits are not about contradicting the will of all the people. Neither is his plot to have the General Services Administration withhold millions in transition funds from the Biden team, his push to have federal agencies plan for a Trump budget after Biden’s inauguration, or his plot to have the Justice Department investigate his far-fetched allegations of voter fraud.
From what I can see, Trump does not wish to contradict the will of all the people. He just wants to go against the will of those who didn’t vote for him. And given the stark and prominent role of racism in his short political career, I think Black people are his prime target.
It was Black people, after all, who effectively labeled Trump a racist while leading massive national protests in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. It was Black people in South Carolina who helped Biden defeat left-leaning Democrats who had little chance of beating Trump. And ultimately, it was Black people in Philadelphia who helped to give Biden more than 81% of the vote in the city, thus helping to deliver Pennsylvania and the presidency to Biden.
However, it wasn’t just about Black voters here. It was specifically about Black voters in key states all over the country. According to an NBC News analysis of the voting patterns in cities and suburbs in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, the African Americans who comprise 39% or more of the population in those areas largely chose Biden.
In fact, when the vote counts from cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Atlanta were tabulated, Trump’s lead in their corresponding states disappeared, and it was thanks to largely to Black voters.
In essence, Joe Biden won the presidency because Black voters in swing states went for Biden and his running mate — a Black woman also of South Asian descent named Kamala Harris.
That’s why the messaging around Trump’s push to invalidate legitimate votes is not about subverting the will of all the people. His messaging is really about subverting the will of Black folks, and that’s like red meat to many of the non-college-educated whites who make up the bulk of Donald Trump’s political base.
Trump’s base loved his false and racist claim that the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, was not born in America. They applauded when Trump told four American congresswomen of color to go back to their own countries. They cheered at a Trump rally when he thanked Black people for not voting.
They aren’t cheering anymore, though. They’re angry, and in my view, Trump is using that anger to push a message steeped in racism.
Amid the large Black turnout that helped to sink Trump’s reelection bid, Trump is playing upon racial stereotypes to drive home his message that he’s somehow being cheated not just by Black voters, but also by Black vote counters.
In an election where the vote count was livestreamed for everyone to see, Trump claimed there was rampant corruption in cities like Philadelphia and Detroit, where many of the vote counters were Black. In Georgia, where the governor and secretary of state are Republican, but the vote counters were largely Black, Trump claimed that the election was being stolen by Democrats.
In short, Donald Trump is blaming his loss on Black workers — the same people who risked their very lives to count votes in the middle of a pandemic. The same people who are disproportionately affected by Trump’s failure to handle the pandemic. The same people who keep saving America’s democracy, despite receiving little in return.