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Biden courts black voters with empathy while Trump delivers real change

Biden courts black voters with empathy while Trump delivers real change
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Joe BidenJoe BidenHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline Overnight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings MORE recently proclaimed that “we are in a battle for the soul of this nation.” He is correct.

We are, in addition, witnessing a serious battle for the hearts and minds of African-American voters. The outcome could determine who is elected president in November.

On one side, we have Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee, who is exploiting the cruel death of George Floyd to accuse the entire nation of “systemic racism” and promote change — though what change exactly is unclear.

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On the other side, we have President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE, who is promising to restore order and protect neighborhoods – black and white – from total devastation, even as he has proclaimed himself an “ally to all peaceful protesters.”

This is only the latest salvo in this ongoing contest — a contest that is critical to Democratic ambitions.

Biden, in his recent speech in Philadelphia, promised “real action” to reduce racial inequities which, he said, “will take more than talk.” He admitted: “We've had talk before.”

Isn’t that the truth? Joe Biden, man of action, public official for over 40 years, now promises “long overdue and concrete changes.” Specifically, he advocated “real police reform,” and, if elected, Biden has “committed to creating a national police oversight commission.” 

In other words, make it even harder for the police to do their jobs.

As for delivering “economic justice and opportunity,” the former vice president promised a plan would be forthcoming, any day now. 

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Where’s he been? If “economic justice” is critical to African-Americans, and Biden wants their vote, shouldn’t he have a plan by now? He was vice president for eight years and has been a candidate for many months. Where’s his plan? 

Biden’s problem is that Democrats are on the wrong side of nearly every issue that could actually help the black community. And Trump is on the right side. That may be why black support for Democrats is fragile, running way behind the 90 percent that the party has enjoyed over the past six decades. 

A survey earlier this year by BlackPac found only 70 percent of African-Americans supporting Democrats; given a choice, 12 percent said they would vote for a third-party candidate, and an equal number said they would vote for Trump. That 12 percent is considerably better than the president did in 2016, when he carried 8 percent of the black vote. 

So, what could help the black community? What matters to black voters? 

Let’s start with education. In his recent conversation with numerous big city mayors, Biden advocated for better education for African-Americans; he is certainly on solid ground. Black kids in cities like New York are lucky if they learn to read and write, but efforts at real reform are scant. 

The teacher unions dismiss complaints and respond to failure by eliminating tests and dumbing down graduation requirements.

Black parents aren’t fooled. That’s why there are tens of thousands of disappointed families left on charter school wait lists year after year in New York City. They know their kids might just have a shot of moving up the economic ladder if they can enroll in Success Academies, for instance, where last year every single graduate was accepted to college.

Two-thirds of black Americans favor charter schools and choice programs, according to polling done by EdChoice, a group advocating reform.    

But Democrats, including Biden, ignore those needs. The teacher unions do everything possible to keep control of our country’s vast public education budgets. Democrats, recipients of tens of millions of dollars in campaign funds over the years, do nothing to confront them. 

Biden’s education “plan” is more of the same. More money, no reform. It is an abomination. 

By contrast, the Trump White House has sponsored school choice, and also pushed through record-level and permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities, which the Obama-Biden White House failed to do. 

What about criminal justice reform? The effort to make sentencing less racially biased and reduce recidivism was long championed by Democrats. But it wasn’t the Obama-Biden White House that got a bill passed. It was President Trump, who signed the bipartisan First Step Act in 2018, representing important change.

As NBC News reported at the time, “…the rare bipartisan consensus came directly as a result of White House involvement.” 

How about economic mobility? Biden has talked about the need to make capital more widely available to black businesses. But he did nothing during his eight years at bat to make that happen. Conversely, the Trump White House has set up Opportunity Zones in distressed areas, with tax incentives available through the tax bill of 2017 attracting much-needed investor funds to spur development.  

Liberals have derided the effort as a hand-out to rich people. But both Republican and Democratic mayors have embraced the program as essential to jump-starting investment in depressed areas. 

What about jobs? Biden’s support for past trade deals that sent jobs overseas and gutted neighborhoods like Watts in California is well known. Trump was elected in part because he promised to bring those jobs home and to demand fair play from China, a process that has begun. 

A pro-business and pro-U.S. agenda is central to Trump’s platform, and essential to the future of working-class Americans. Only recently, black Americans were enjoying record-low unemployment and a shrinkage of the black/white pay gap. Currently those gains have been lost thanks to COVID-19. As the economy snaps back, job growth will follow.   

One issue that black voters prioritize, which will help Biden, is health care. Republicans have failed to present an alternative to an expansion of ObamaCare, championed by the former vice president. 

Black voters will have a choice come November; sign on to Joe Biden’s “empathy” and the status quo, or decide that their future looks better with Donald Trump in the Oval Office. They may not like Trump, but they may come to realize that actions speak louder than words. 

Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.