Recent employment statistics show that black unemployment reached a record low of 5.5% during August 2019. By all accounts, this is good news – unless you’re a Democratic pundit hoping Trump doesn’t get reelected.
CNN host Don Lemon and his guests Friday said the record low employment shouldn’t sway black voters in 2020 because of Trump’s “racist behavior.” They also said all credit for the low unemployment rightly belongs to President Obama.
“It started going down though in the Obama administration. It was 16.8 percent in March of 2010. And it dropped to 7.9 percent; a 54 percent reduction under President Obama,” said panelist Keith Boykin. “And Trump while…while this was happening denied that it was even happening. He called the numbers fake news; until he came into office and suddenly all the numbers he said were fake were magically real. And so, he too credit for the momentum that has…has occurred since that time.”
While we’re crediting former administrations, it’s worth noting that the black unemployment rate was 12.7% when Obama took office, rose to 16.8% in March 2010, and then began its historic decline. But I’m sure that early rise was 100 percent former President Bush’s fault.
Lemon then asked his panelists how black voters can reconcile the record low unemployment numbers President Trump’s allegedly racist behavior.
“I think the message is something that does not resonate with black communities and brown communities simply because of the rhetoric that has come out of the White House,” said [Panelist Joseph] Pinion. “An so, I think I said almost two years ago to the day on this program that if someone spits in your face and then hands you a napkin, you don’t get to say thank you.”
“As you say, if someone spits in your face and hands you a napkin, how…what is that supposed to…I don’t understand that argument,” Lemon responded. “Does that mean that the only part of your brain, or the only part of our being that matters is money? Rather than how someone treats you and what someone says about you?”
No, Don, it means you should pay attention to what people do rather than what they say – especially when what they say is continually twisted to fit a negative narrative. Donald Trump says a lot of insensitive things, yes. But he’s also done a lot of good for minority communities and this country. That’s what voters should pay attention to.
“Donald Trump had little to nothing to do with the drop in unemployment for African-Americans,” concluded Boykin. “No one can…no one who talks about this in the Republican Party can cite a single policy contributed by Donald Trump that is responsible for the drop in black unemployment. It’s all because of policies that… that started long ago. It wasn’t the tax cut or anything like that. Policies started long ago in the Obama administration when we started to see the drop. And the other thing is that Obama had the good sense not to go out and brag about it every time that there was a drop in unemployment because he knew that it’s still to high compared to the white unemployment rate.”
I know it can be hard to separate credit between administrations, because it can sometimes take years, or longer, for new policies to really take hold or for old ones to be undone. But doesn’t it seem like Obama is the king of taking credit for his successor’s achievements while blaming all his faults on his predecessor?
My advice? Vote based on whether this country and the administration’s policies are actually working for you, not whether you personally like the man in charge.