I’m willing to admit that African Americans have an unsteady and unequal alliance within the Democratic Party. Over the years, plenty of political observers have waxed extensively about the fact that black voters disproportionately cast ballots for Democrats, but often receive relatively little in return. And, to be honest, I’ve said so as well.
In an effort to radically change this dynamic, conservative television pundit Candace Owens is urging black Americans to join her in a new political campaign to break bonds with a half-century of fealty to Democrats. Her movement is called “Blexit.” You see what she did there: black and exit.
“Blexit is a Renaissance,” Owens told Fox News last weekend. “Blexit is the black exit from the Democratic Party. It’s the black exit from permanent victimhood, the black exit from the false idea that we are somehow separate from the rest of America.”
Admittedly, the Democratic Party has considerable flaws and numerous racial shortcomings, some grave enough to have elicited a formal apology. But nothing in the past 50 years of U.S. politics justifies black voters abandoning the only practical vessel for their social, economic and political interests to leap blindly into the embrace of the overtly hostile — and let’s be perfectly honest, outright racist — Trump-led GOP.
Owens, who is African-American, owes her fame and celebrity to being a hard-right supporter of the president on the conservative media-and-talk-show circuit. In her Fox News interview, where she announced her formation of Blexit, Owens said her movement isn’t aimed at next week’s midterm elections. Rather, she’s targeting black voters to support President Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“There are people that want to change their lives that have been lied to by the media,” Owens said in the interview, adding she plans to hold rallies in major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. “There should be something waiting for them when they make that decision, and, now, Blexit will be there.”
I can’t imagine a more ridiculous idea than Owens’ plan to campaign for Trump and the GOP in distressed and urban communities. Moreover, I can’t think of a more troubling moment in our nation’s history to countenance just such a notion. For the most part, black voters have no clue who Owens is or why she deserves to a self-appointed tribune of their interests, and those who do are likely to have grave concerns about her close ties to Trump.
That’s well deserved guilt by association. Trump is no friend to black voters or their interests. Long before he mounted a race-baiting presidential campaign, Trump had established his bonafides as someone who was, in the words of The New York Times’ David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick, “obsessed with race for the entire time he has been a public figure.”
Leonardo and Philbrick documented in an online interactive feature Trump’s “history of making racist comments as a New York real-estate developer in the 1979s and ’80s,” which led them to conclude that “Donald Trump is a racist” who “talks about and treats people differently based on their race.”
“He has done so for years, and he is still doing so,” they write.
Of course, Trump is typically quick to tell his supporters that he is “the least racist person,” and deflect his racism by appearing with obsequious black supporters — such as rapper/entrepreneur Kanye West, online pseudo-celebrities Diamond and Silk, and former pro football star Jim Brown. For the most part, these black people put their fame and popularity among the masses of black Americans at grave risk by hugging up on Trump’s toxicity, a point accurately observed by Fox News’ Juan Williams in a recent USA Today column:
With the exception of Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, the only African-Americans close to the president seem to be people charged with deflecting criticism that Trump’s rhetoric and policies are racist.
From Kanye West to Omarosa Manigault Newman, Diamond and Silk, Jim Brown to Ray Lewis, the African-Americans identified with Trump are neither knowledgeable about Washington politics nor experienced in social policies that affect black America.
They also tend to be upper-class or rich athletes and pop stars. For Trump, the black policy expert does not exist. The black academic does not exist.
Owens fits neatly into this ignorant mix of Trump sycophants. She was one of the organizers of and a well-publicized speaker at the Young Black Leaders Summit, a four-day conference of millennial conservative black youths sponsored by Turning Point USA, a nonprofit that is active on high school and college campuses, and which has become — to a degree that verges on comical — a haven for flamboyant right-wing racists.
As communications director for Turning Point, Owens helped pull off the summit’s boisterous meeting in the East Room of the White House with Trump, giving the president a moment to be photographed with a group of cheering black kids decked out in red MAGA hats.
Given Trump’s overall abysmal standing with black Americans, it’s easy to see why Owens is an unlikely messiah to lead black converts away from the Democrats. Her Blexit movement appears more of a laugh-out-loud Saturday Night Live skit than a serious effort to persuade a significant number of African Americans to vote for Trump in 2020.
But, of course, she’s paid to try. Her rise among mostly white, conservative activists is vibrant proof that black Americans with street cred in their communities have, practically speaking, little to no influence or meaningful connection to the Trump-led Republican Party. Which goes a long way toward explaining why Owens founded Blexit with money provided by white conservatives and a marketing assist from Trump’s black Mini-Me — Kanye West.
— The Root (@TheRoot) October 29, 2018
To add just that extra dash of panache to her Blexit’s introduction, Owens revealed that she permitted West to design the logo and t-shirt for her movement. “Kanye saw my original design, and said, ‘I can do better,'” Owens told Fox News. “He redesigned the logo with vibrant colors inspired by his trip to Uganda.”
Well, I can only imagine what Owens thinks is on the political horizon: Legions of converted black voters, well-dressed in their Blexit t-shirts and MAGA hats jumping overboard from a Democratic boat into the shark-infested GOP ocean.