As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump routinely told largely white audiences, “Look at how much African-American communities are suffering from Democratic control. To those I say the following: what do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose?”
The answer, it turns out, was quite a bit. The Republican president has not only ignited ugly racial controversies in his first year in office, Trump has also taken steps to hurt urban investment, and just last week, announced plans “to delay enforcement of a federal housing rule that requires communities to address patterns of racial residential segregation.”
The president, however, has a new pitch. Tweeting in response to something he saw on Fox News, Trump wrote yesterday:
“African American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded in our country. The Hispanic unemployment rate dropped a full point in the last year and is close to the lowest in recorded history. Dems did nothing for you but get your vote!”
In this case, Dems “did nothing” except create the economic conditions Trump is so eager to take credit for.
Slate had a good piece along these lines, explaining, “[T]he bigger issue here is that, much like virtually every other improvement in the labor market over the past year, the employment gains blacks and Hispanics have seen are mostly just a continuation of steady trends that well predate Trump. Joblessness among minorities has been on the decline for the better part of eight years. That’s in part because a black president spent the first years of his terms trying to save a mortally injured economy. Now Trump seems to think black voters will forget all of that work.”
And while that’s problematic, and insulting to voters’ intelligence, it’s not the only problem.
A related Washington Post piece noted that Trump’s message is as cynical as it is misleading.
[On the campaign trail, Trump] tried to claim that the situation for black Americans, particularly young black Americans, was dire. How’d he justify that, given the decrease above? By creating his own metric of unemployment, focusing on young people because he included students in his totals of those not working. So yes, unemployment among black teenagers was high – because many of them were for some reason going to high school instead of punching a clock. It was a nonsense claim meant to make the situation look bad – but now that he’s president Trump embraces a metric under which Barack Obama’s presidency looks pretty strong.
That’s the cynicism inherent in the tweet: Trump misrepresented the facts to voters in 2016 and now wants credit for a trend he inherited. Oh, and while implying that the trend never happened under the Democrats, which it did – twice.
At a rally in August 2016, Trump boasted, “At the end of four years, I guarantee you that I will get over 95 percent of the African-American vote. I promise you.”
He really ought to start lowering his expectations.