America’s perennial obsession with the Black vote was given another interpretation after the night of September 14 in California. In the coming days, we will come to know whose vote went to whom but do not expect many Black people to have staked a claim for conservative radio host Larry Elder. When you hear that not all skinfolk are kinfolk, the conversation might well be about the bullish Elder.
Elder was convincingly beaten in his and the Republican Party’s attempt to have California governor Gavin Newsom recalled from office. Despite midsummer fears, it was highly unlikely that one of the bluest states in the Union would cede power to a Republican.
Newsom’s gubernatorial reign has been far from wholesome but when you are up against Larry Elder, you need to make it about Larry Elder. President Joe Biden understood the assignment so when campaigned for the California governor, he called Elder “a clone of Donald Trump”.
One can acknowledge how Trump became the term of reference for wacky politics but you have to understand Elder has been doing worse all by himself, long before Trump.
When Elder was praising George Zimmerman and shaming young Black people on TV for the amusement and to the satisfaction of white folks who lacked the cojones to be proudly racist, that was not Donald Trump’s doing. If I have to defend Trump so we can talk about what danger Elder has singularly posed to Black people, yes, I will defend Trump.
It was Elder who went on TV to accost Piers Morgan – Piers “I Am Not Comfortable With Black Women Living Their Life” Morgan – on the matter of what sort of public support Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon Martin’s friend who was central to the legal and public understanding of the killing, deserved.
Elder said Morgan was “stupid” for offering emotional support and encouragement to the young lady whose friend had been gunned down by Zimmerman. He mentioned something about Morgan coddling unhelpful tendencies in young Black people.
He has also blamed Black Lives Matter for inciting Black people to riot and foiling attempts by authorities to fight crime.
I can imagine that opposition research for Newsom did not struggle to put together an encyclopedic lot of quality Elder footage from all those years on radio and TV where he has damned Black people and immigrants.
Elder advocates abolishing the federal minimum wage as far back as 2010 despite the fundamental necessity of this remuneration to Black and brown families. To help you understand how terrible this view of Elder’s is, Trump was open to increasing the federal minimum wage in 2016 even if he didn’t walk the talk in his presidency.
The 69-year-old Elder posited that the only way he could lose was if the vote was rigged. That is certainly Trumpian. But is anyone under the illusion that the Democrats have to rig in a state Biden won nine months ago by over 30 points?
If we would even separate the December polls from the recall, there is enough on which to convict Elder in a state as multi-ethnic and culturally liberal as California. I can imagine the conversation in the homes of poor ethnic minorities when they remember that Elder doesn’t want them to have a minimum wage.
Elder is an extreme critic of the welfare state. Were Californians going to vote for a man who stood in perpetual opposition to the government subsidizing people’s means of existence in a pandemic?
Even his push against governmental support for individuals places Elder on the right of Trump. He has gone as far as to say that welfare has done more to harm Black people than slavery.
You know, because nearly all Black people were “employed” during slavery but a huge slice are not part of the workforce now that we are doling out benefits.
This was Reaganite “welfare queens” talking points on steroids. You could not even make Laura Ingraham say some of these things on Fox News even if her life depended on it.
He also notes that America needs to give reparations to slave owners since their “property” ownership was curtailed by the Civil War. That ridiculousness is not a new idea. British and French slave owners were paid reparations and even in the case of the latter, that decision killed Haiti’s dreams before it had the chance to become a bona fide nation. But for Black people to seriously make that case is not only weird but foolish.
But that is the risk Elder poses. He jeopardizes the Black experience while living Black, thereby providing ill-intentioned Americans with moral and political cover.
When it came to the issues of what women could choose to do with their bodies, Elder believes their opinions don’t matter when it comes to babies growing inside their bodies. He has denigrated LGBTQ folks and refused to address even his famous fellow Republican, Caitlyn Jenner, by her pronouns.
There are states where this sort of anti-progressivism would pay and none of them is California.
In every way imaginable, Elder has sung a different tune than a majority of Black people in America. He has never wished to embody the multi-ethnic progress most Americans continue to fight for.
So thank God Larry Elder lost. He can always go back to daytime radio and offer his thoughts to those who care.