On Monday, the New York Times published a story focused on young blacks and their perspectives about the upcoming presidential elections. And while their response was as expected on Mr. Trump, what was surprising to some was their perspective on Hillary Clinton.
Young blacks are skeptical of Mrs. Clinton in two main concerns. First, as with much of the electorate, they simply do not find her to be honest and trustworthy. This is something with which Mrs. Clinton continues to struggle across the voting public — and many of the non-voting public. Second, young blacks are concerned with Mrs. Clinton as it relates to their own concerns. Meaning, they are concerned that she has nothing on her agenda that is for them.
On the first concern, Mrs. Clinton has been steadily trying to convince the people not only that she is the best candidate, but she has worked hard to convince them of her honesty. However, over the decades, the Clintons have both been the primary target of political opponents from the right and the “alt right.” Their relentless pursuit of the Clintons, and Mrs. Clinton in particular, has taken its toll.
Literally, every move on the part of the Clintons has been seized upon and been subjected to a plan to show it to be not only dishonest, but criminal in many cases. It is a very uphill battle for Mrs. Clinton to roll back the tide on her honesty problem before the election. It is likely that she will be able to improve on her numbers once she is in the office doing the job — which is typically when her popularity is at its highest.
The second basis for the skepticism of young blacks is likely the only place where Mrs. Clinton can make the most headway. While Clinton supporters and even some campaign staff may believe that the former secretary of state has laid out plans to address the black community as a whole and young black people specifically, that message clearly has not made it through.
That is not the fault of young black people. It is the fault of the campaign. The campaign is responsible for getting its message out in a way that it is heard, understood, and accepted by the American people. As the New York Times article argues, part of the problem may be that the traditional ways of reaching out to black people — black churches, primarily.
Young black people are “less likely to be found in black churches and more likely to be found in schools, loosely organized activist groups and online,” according to Brittany Packnett, a 31 year old St. Louis-based leader in the push for police accountability who was interviewed by The Times. Unfortunately, the Clintons grew up in the age of using the now partially antiquated way of reaching black voters — partially antiquated, largely because it is not able to reach young black voters. Certainly, the Clinton campaign needs to address this shortcoming.
Perhaps more problematic is that this is a problem which is tough to fix considering Mrs. Clinton’s current posture and strategy. Specifically, the Clinton campaign’s current overall strategy is to simply stay as quiet as possible and stay out of the way of the train wreck that it perceives the Trump campaign to be. The approach is that to the extent Trump continues to struggle across the general electorate, Mrs. Clinton should simply stay out of his way and let him self-destruct.
However, Clinton is not going to be able to continue this strategy for long. It is likely that the Clinton campaign will ramp up on outreach in late September, flush with cash from what are sure to be the best fundraising months of her campaign. That outreach will certainly have to include young black voters, and not through black churches, but where they are. More importantly, in order to convince this voting block to go to the polls in November, Clinton must do more than sling mud at Donald Trump. This is a socially and politically aware group. They do not need to be told how bad Donald Trump is. They need to be told what Hillary Clinton is going to do for them.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Slant.