I have theorized that the Trump 2020 campaign has done more to attract Black male voters than the Biden campaign has done and thus will receive a disproportionate amount of Black male voters compared to Black female voters. Black women voted for Trump at only 4%.
The question that arises for me is it that why are more Black men attracted to Trump than Black women?
Part of what fuels this are at least two factors. One more straightforward than the other, so let’s start with the first one.
The first one is lack of education. I feel confident in my anecdotal analysis that educated Black men aren’t voting for Trump. I have yet to meet a Black man with a college degree or higher who has made a case for voting for Trump. I know they exist. They exist in the Black Republicans groups on HBCU and PWI campuses, but admittedly, they’re few and far between. For the Blackademic male minority—the one percent of one percent—who have masters and higher, you’d be finding a needle in the haystack if you came across a Black male Trump supporter.
For starters, the dizzying rate at which every civic feature of this democracy has come to bear in the last four years is unprecedented. To understand the vastness of what’s wrong with the Trump administration—the wonkiness of the Affordable Care Act that was up for a vote in 2017, the undoing of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Russia collusion, the failure of the administration to fulfill State Department vacancies, the “acting” status of administration higher ups, the impeachment proceedings, the coronavirus taskforce, the Supreme Court nominations—takes a serious command of civics and politics in general. That serious command of civics and politics happens through educational outlets with the classroom setting being the primary one. Knowing the implications of these things requires an opinion of how governments should run. And contrary to popular opinon, an informed, and I stress informed, opinion about how an American democracy should run, isn’t reduced to hashtags, or basic thoughts around abolishing the police.
What makes it easy for Black men to miss the bigger picture is because Trump, and so many others in the GOP leadership, such as Mitch McConnell, are political caricatures at this point. They are Matrix-like simulations of what politicians should be. This is why Black hoteppetry exists. Biden and Trump can get painted with the same broad brush because “All politics is bullshit.” “The lesser of evils” becomes the mating call of apathetic citizens one to another. Trump mouthing off in a press conference or tweeting in a fever-induced rant become the standard not the blaring klaxon that things are vastly out of order.
Trump’s response to the protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor function as low-hanging fruit as to why most Black folks don’t like Trump. By 2020, that’s just further confirmation. But, if you were to press your average Black man under the age of 45 about his thoughts on government, you’ll start getting real foggy answers. Walk into a Black barbershop on a Saturday morning and you’ll see where the educational fall off happens—at the exact point where the rubber meets the road. Instead, it never does. And Black men end up careening off the road into the ditches of Black conspiracy theories full of half-truths that can’t separate out the garbage.
We know that Black men graduate high school at lower rates than their Black women counterparts. And the college graduation rates tell the story; the ratios of Black women to Black men are frequently as high as 15:1 on college campuses. Meanwhile white college students of both genders arrive at college in much closer numbers. I’d argue that education does have some factor in the understanding of this very particular race in 2020. Some of these better-informed ideas about democracy and government come not just from the classrooms but the conversations had in dorm rooms and over lunch on a quad. When the loop of information is only people on your social media feed sharing the same videos over and over, the mind has nothing new to feed on and comparing things-to-things is a sign of being out of touch rather than call to think better thoughts.
Making the education argument sounds elitist from my point of view, I know, but it makes a difference. The lack of education amongst Black men makes a difference when there’s lack of urgency around connecting the dots between the elected president and judicial nominations. Not just the Supreme Court either. Knowing that Black men have a higher likelihood of having an encounter with police and arrested, having better judges sitting on benches makes a difference.
The second reason, the more complicated one I posit, has to do with social norms around American masculinity. While that’s a broad topic, I want to make sure that the through-line connections start at the top. This isn’t just Black masculinity, but it is one articulated throughout American society that affects all.
I think there’s a complex relationship around masculinity and capitalism that’s also fueling a disproportionate support for Trump amongst Black men. While the numbers are shifting, it still stands to reason that Black men will be the breadwinner if in a family unit. And in a capitalist society that operates on an economic of scarcity—one should opt to get the biggest piece of the pie as possible before it’s all gone—Trump’s messaging, better yet, the Republican messaging is better than Biden’s and the Democrats.
Black Republicans existed before Trump and will be there after Trump for the sole reason of economics. I even had a former classmate argue that he was looking at Mitt Romney in the 2008 primary season because Romney was in favor of eliminating the capital gains tax. He and I has just graduated college with accounting degrees. Neither of us had any capital gains that needed to be taxed. But still, it was the idea that captured him. Fast-forwarding to 2020, to a young Black man without a college degree, knowing that certain opportunities for climbing the socio-economic ladder are unavailable, being an entrepreneur is a viable option. The issues around business growth and corporations sound very attractive. Meanwhile the Democratic party takes an almost anti-corporate stance on many issues.
The appeal of “get rich or die tryin'” is one that comes through much more clearly from Trump in his erratic rally speeches. It appeals to that cultural call of what it means to be a good Black man that, weirdly, I think, transcends Trump. (Like I said, Trump is just a political caricature that allows this transcendence to happen.) That plus the lack of education, especially around civics, stands to reason why there are more Black men who support Trump than Black women.