February 27, 2020
New Op-ed: Dour Democrats Play the Race Card
Winning presidential campaign messaging typically declares optimistic assessments of America and our national potential. Ronald Reagan harnessed the “Morning in America” motifs of a country newly emboldened. Barack Obama pledged “Hope and Change” to lift the spirits of a country facing economic cataclysm. In 2016, Donald Trump promoted a concrete plan to “Make America Great Again.”
To be sure, successful national candidates identify the serious problems facing American society – and call out those they deem responsible. “In this present crisis,” Reagan said in his inaugural address, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Bill Clinton’s 1992 rejoinder was that the 1980s were a “decade of greed.” Trump spoke often of the “carnage” he said was hollowing out entire communities. But all of them spoke hopefully of America’s future while reaffirming the noble promise of the American experiment.
In stark contrast, the presidential candidates onstage in Charleston, S.C., Tuesday night – and in all the Democrats’ proceeding debates -- described our country as some thoroughly racist, dystopian hellscape. Their assessment of the United States as a troubled country that resembles apartheid South Africa totally contradicts the reality of American life and trajectory of the key relevant metrics of national success today, from the confidence of our citizens to wage growth.
What explains this chasm between their sour lecture and the palpable optimism that presently pervades our land? Sadly, in election season the Democrats, by default, resort to their pandering playbook. If they can smear America as systemically racist and dismiss our America First movement as bigoted, then they hope to frighten minorities and shame whites into voting for their party.
Such tactics represent an utterly divisive approach to politics. While racism will always poison the hearts of some in this fallen world, the on-the-ground reality in America reveals a nation that has largely moved past the very material racial animosities of our history. Twice, we elected an African American commander-in-chief. He and his wife remain the two most admired people in the country, per Gallup polling (though President Trump did tie President Obama in that latest survey). Interracial relationships have become unremarkable in 2020 America. In educational and professional spheres, being a minority brings, if anything, actual advantages, as I can personally attest.
But if the Democrats were to acknowledge these truths, they would confront the nearly impossible task of convincing Americans, including minorities, to turn away from the successful policy trends of this administration. It is tough, indeed, for these leftist candidates to sell their doom and gloom to a country that just reported an all-time record personal satisfaction rate of 90%. That personal confidence translates into tangible advances, as the Census Bureau on Wednesday reported that new home sales soared to the highest levels since 2007, before the Great Recession. And because of the newfound broader prosperity in America, nearly two-thirds of all new homeowners last year were Hispanic citizens.
The jobs explosion that undergirds the strength in housing benefits all Americans, but particularly those of middle and lower incomes. For example, the lowest 10% of earners leap to the front of wage gains, with 7% annual growth. We know that a sizable percentage of these economic underdogs are minorities. According to The Washington Post, of the millions of jobs created since Trump’s election, an incredible 85% went to citizens of color.
Other than smear America as intrinsically racist, what policy proposals do the dullards of the Democratic field suggest? In the case of front-runner Bernie Sanders, one of his inane ideas for minority advancement involves, wait for it, selling narcotics! In the debate, Senator Sanders said that as president he will help “minorities … start businesses to sell legal marijuana.”
This kind of insulting nonsense will not succeed given the material, kitchen-table improvements Americans now enjoy, including minority citizens. The strivers of America, many of them black and brown, do not desire government handouts and do not respect a stage full of elitist liberal whites engaged in ham-handed pandering.
The Democrats played the race card on Tuesday night, and they played it from the bottom of the deck. But given the strong political hand that Donald J. Trump presently holds, such low tactics are bound to fail. More importantly than just the 2020 election, we can all celebrate a country that grows in confidence, ushers in broader prosperity, and welcomes ever-greater racial tolerance.
-Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and national spokesman for the America First PAC. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.