Why is the Minority Vote Shifting to the Right?
It seems the Left's recent obsession with race is alienating rather than attracting non-white voters
This article was first published in Poliquads just after the US elections - it has been slightly updated.
For me, the recent US Presidential election brought a double dose of good news. Not only did Donald Trump lose overall, but the Democrats saw a reduced share of the racial minority, female and LGBT votes. These two points probably sound contradictory: allow me to explain.
I have a soft spot for black conservatives, although I should point out here that I’m neither black nor conservative. In fact, for many years, until a decade ago, I was a left-wing activist and blogger. Now, I guess I’d be roughly classified as “centrist”, and I try to stay as far away from the toxic extremes of left and right as possible. Politics has changed dramatically in recent years, and many things have happened over the past decade to shift my political position away from the Left. One of those things was encountering a young woman on Twitter, who I’ll refer to here as Samantha, and who later became a friend. Samantha is a black British woman and, at the time I first encountered her, she was a loud fan of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, and a leading figure in the emerging right-wing Tea Party movement (the movement that later fed strongly into the Trump phenomenon).
This infuriated me. I loathed Palin, who appeared to appeal to the most regressive instincts of rural, conservative, white America. How could a black woman from England see anything to support in this woman and her movement?
I frequently sparred with Samantha on Twitter, as did other lefties. She was an accomplished troll, constantly shifting goalposts in arguments and making contrarian points to leave her opponents irritated and returning for more. Eventually, Samantha became the target of a particularly abusive stalker: a white, middle-aged left-wing man with whom I had previously been friendly. Increasingly, I found myself standing up for her against his obsessive bullying. I saw that what most enraged him wasn’t her ideas (many people on Twitter had similar ideas) but the fact that she was young, black, female, attractive and unapologetic. I understood him to an extent, because I had also found Samantha’s views irritating. But the man was a bully, and was outraged that a black woman could hold such political views. Samantha repeatedly made the same point: why should she have any less right to be conservative than a white person? Why did people on the left give her a much harder time than they would have done if she hadn’t been black? Ultimately, this came down to her skin colour, not her politics.
Samantha eventually abandoned her Twitter account as a result of her stalker, and we became friends in real life, and stopped bothering to discuss politics. She had opened my eyes to something that was ubiquitous, and yet that I had barely allowed myself to notice: the new Left was viciously racist. Not in the same ways as the old racist right had been: this racism was fresh, fashionable, hidden, yet as plain as day once one acknowledged its existence. The Left, so certain of its own moral superiority, had become what it claimed to be fighting.
Samantha’s abuse by left-wing bullies did not just happen on social media - it took place in real life too. She describes how she was treated by white, left-wing students, including her housemates, at university.
“A lot have bullied and harassed me, sent me abusive messages, threatened me. I talk to almost no one I stayed with on campus at university because of this, I fell out with most of my old housemates. We were all studying together and they ended up hating me… My old housemates texting me things like ‘You’re a hideous bitch, we hate you…’”
The new, mostly white, very middle-class, “woke” Left believed itself to be the natural home of anti-racism. But it had found a loophole: given that conservatives were (in their view) irredeemably racist and evil, then black conservatives were actually traitors, and traitors are even worse than the enemy who shows himself in full view. While the woke see racism as irredeemably wrong, they make an exception in this case. It is acceptable to abuse black people if they are the wrong kind of black people.
For anyone familiar with black cultures, the idea that a black person might hold conservative views is hardly a surprise. Nigerians (Samantha is of Nigerian heritage) are among the most conservative cultures on the planet.
As Samantha explained to me,
“My culture is conservative so it’s not weird for me but it was weird to the outside world who expected me to want a hand-up.”
Worldwide, Nigerians were among the strongest supporters of Donald Trump’s presidency. According to a global survey, “58% of people in Nigeria say they have confidence in Trump – the fourth highest total after the Philippines, Israel and Kenya”. This clashes strongly with the left-wing view of blackness, which is defined by Critical Race Theory, a toxic export of American academia, and in which black people lack agency, and may never be regarded as anything other than victims.
So the woke Left’s version of anti-racism involves whites being saviours for downtrodden people of colour. White wokies appear to be extremely comfortable taking this neo-colonial role. Given that the new Left is very white, black individuals are fetishised and fast-tracked into senior positions within the Left, in order to make the movement appear less white than it actually is. But the black people who advance on the Left must say the right things, and most of all must accept that they are the victims of “oppression” by a system of “white supremacy”.
In other words, the woke Left is only comfortable with black people who are subservient (to them), who echo their narratives, and who express rage towards “white supremacy”. In this context, the bullying experienced by Samantha makes sense. She refused to accept the narrative, and to be a good black person. The woke belief in white supremacy is an almost religious one. Black people who refuse to acknowledge its existence, or even worse who succeed where they are expected to fail, are enemies of the cult.
The black commentator who accepts that his role is to play Militant Black Guy can be well rewarded by the white Left. Ibram X Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist, and a man (paradoxically) known for racist outbursts, was given a “no-strings” donation of $10 million by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. While the narrative goes that people like Kendi are revolutionaries who shake the foundations of white supremacy, the reality appears to be the exact opposite. Kendi’s reward was for being the kind of black man that people like Jack Dorsey expected to see; for repeating the narrative of wealthy, white, woke people.
The Left’s racism, which initially found isolated targets like Samantha, has become far more obvious since the ascent of Black Lives Matter in 2014. This summer, we often saw the bizarre spectacle of black cops facing down white anti-racism protesters, and sometimes even being racially abused by them. This movement reached the height of absurdity after, in a Washington DC restaurant, white protesters tried to force white customers to make black power salutes. If we have seen racism in 2020, it has mostly come from “anti-racism” activists.
These trends have also been visible in UK politics. The London Labour Party is whiter than ever, despite (or because of) the use of “positive discrimination” to fast-track black people into positions of power. As with Kendi, the people pushed into senior positions are those who play the role that white members expect of them. As a result, many of the leading black party members turn themselves into stereotypes. So the London MP Diane Abbott tweets out anti-white comments that would be more at home in a left-wing student union meeting, and another London MP Dawn Butler makes (apparently false) accusations of racism against the Metropolitan Police after a car she is travelling in is stopped. These cartoonish performances are not made for a black audience, but are done to impress the white, middle-class Labour Party members who elevated Abbott and Butler to power (and can fire them again if they wish). The irony is that all this performative victimhood tends to repel non-white people, who largely do not wish to be seen as powerless victims.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement’s demand to “defund the police” is opposed by most black people. It is a demand of the middle-classes, who fail to understand that the police save poor black lives on a daily basis. This gulf in understanding is driving a wedge between the middle-class Left and working class people, who tend to be more socially conservative and pro-policing than white liberals.
In the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the numbers of black people who are openly shifting to the right of politics, many of whom express support for Donald Trump. While I find Trump grotesque, and am very glad to see the back of him, I can’t help but welcome this trend. Partly, this comes from having seen the horrible way in which Samantha and many others have been treated by the racist Left. In the UK, non-left black figures like the rapper Zuby, and commentators such as Esther Krakue and Inaya Folarin Iman, have risen in prominence. Some of these are on the political right; others are progressives, but are repelled by the Left’s toxic identity politics. The black author, broadcaster and veteran anti-racism activist Trevor Phillips, who was once a lead architect of multiculturalism in the UK, has now called out wokeism as a menace to race relations. One of the most impressive anti-racism speeches of the year was delivered, not by an angry black nationalist with a raised fist, but by Kemi Badenoch, a black minister in the UK’s Conservative government.
Similarly, in America, increasing numbers of black commentators are turning away from the patronising racial politics of the Democratic Party. This trend may have been accelerated by this year’s spike in inner-city murder, which appears to have been directly driven by the Black Lives Matter protests, their demand to “defund the police”, and the subsequent disengagement of police from poor neighborhoods. This angered me and many others: city administrations following the demands of far-left activists, and directly causing the deaths of black people in their cities. If anything highlighted the gulf in understanding between the new Left and the people it claims to represent, this did.
In short, “antiracism” has become a toxic brand, largely driven by white people, and increasingly alienating non-whites, who feel patronised by it. So for some time, I have predicted that, win or lose, Trump would increase his share of the black vote at this election. I have found myself hoping for a tightrope result: a Biden win (which would rebuke Trump) combined with a shift of the black vote to the right (which would rebuke the woke). And I make no bones about this: for me, the Trump right and the woke Left are two sides of the same, illiberal coin.
The election result exceeded my dreams. While Trump lost both the popular vote and the Electoral College, the demographic shifts were stunning. Trump, the man who has been constantly accused of being a racist, misogynist and a homophobe, picked up votes in every demographic, except one: white men. This is laugh-out-loud ironic. The man the Left has painted as a Hitler-type figure fighting to preserve the power of “patriarchy” and “white supremacy”, increased his vote among every group that the woke had labelled “oppressed”: black people, Latinos, Asians and women. His LGBT vote doubled in 4 years. The woke narrative is in tatters.
For years, the Left had told us that Donald Trump was the most racist President in modern history. And yet, he won 26% of the minority vote: the Republicans’ highest share of non-white votes in 60 years. The Left’s tiresome tactic of accusing everybody of racism on the flimsiest grounds has run out of steam.
This is something to rejoice, regardless of which side you are on. It means that the stark racial polarisation in American politics may be coming to an end. It also provides a lesson to the Democratic Party. Racist identity politics may play well among middle-class whites, but it does not work among any other group. If the Democrats continue to play identity politics, they will increasingly repel minority voters. And in a country that will be majority-minority within a few decades, they cannot afford to do that. The Democrats need to find what they have lost: progressive politics that focuses on living standards rather than colour, gender or sexuality. If they don’t, the Republicans could follow the lead of the UK’s Conservative Party, which has taken over the centre ground, and is stealing the Labour Party’s old base of working class and non-white voters. Trump has changed US politics for the worse in many ways, but he has also - probably by accident - changed it for the better.