Your 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson continued a campaign of what can only be described as complete and utter whathefuckery by releasing an “urban” campaign ad in an effort to target young African-Americans voters. If you haven’t already, take a listen:
Twitter predictably lit up like a Christmas tree once the ad had circulated:
Carson, for his part, immediately tried to walk back the ad by placing it squarely on the shoulders of campaign staff, telling reporters at a book signing in Miami: “There are people in the campaign who felt that that was a good way to do things. And you know, they’re entitled to their opinions.”
So when Ben isn’t out campaigning (and to be clear, he “paused” his campaign to do a mid-election book tour) on a platform of comparing everything he doesn’t like to slavery, dodging figurative submarine attacks, or creating revisionist histories where armed Jews should have overthrown Hitler, he’s trying to connect with young African-Americans by laying generic stump speech soundbites over recycled D. J. Pooh beats?
Honestly, this shit is just ridiculous.
Anyone auditioning to be leader of the free world will not court a single African-American voter, young or otherwise, by dropping a bargain basement mixtape. That is just not how any of this works. For Carson in particular, it’s a strange choice considering just a few months ago he was of the opinion that the “hip-hop community” destroys things like family, faith, and values, but whatevs.
The problem is if Carson is to have even the slightest chance of winning the Republican nomination, he’s beholden to the same racialized tokenism and patronization his party continues to brand as “outreach.” If Carson wants to retain a winning portion of the GOP’s white vote, he has to be the successful black man wagging his finger at the “thugs,” telling them to pull their pants up; that racism is over (“Hey, look at me: the black Republican presidential candidate!”) and their problem is that they lack respectability, fathers, and a work ethic. As the token black Republican candidate, his party expects him to do no less.
The absolutely mind-numbing thing about all this is that there are plenty of black conservatives out there. There are thriving middle-to-upper-class black communities full of folks that believe in smaller government and responsible gun ownership. There are small black businesses in neighborhoods across the country that would love nothing more than seeing their taxes reduced. Walk into a predominately black church this Sunday and there’s a good chance you’ll hear a “belts and bootstraps” sermon that sounds a lot closer to Carson than Obama.
Contrary to what you hear on Fox News, black people consistently vote Democrat not because we are mooches who want to gobble up all the “free stuff” we can, but because asking someone for their vote while simultaneously insulting them rarely works out, regardless of the skin color of the candidate.
Because a popular talking point across the entire party is that the black vote can be “bought” with free phones and abortions. Because at every given turn the other party goes out of their way to call the most successful and “respectable” black family on the planet (you know, those nice folks living in that big white house on Pennsylvania Ave.) everything from Marxist Kenyan radicals to gorillas to uppity hoodrats.
Because instead of seriously engaging young black voters on the issues that are important to them — police brutality, school-to-prison pipelines, student loan debt, and the prospects of getting jobs once that debt is accrued —“outreach” is having the one black candidate in the race go on the radio to assure them that he too enjoys the hippity-hop. Carson and co. better learn how to start connecting with minority voters without insulting their intelligence, or it’s going to be a long next couple of decades for the Grand Ol’ Party.