Media mogul Robert Johnson talks state of Black America
“We are marginalized in our power”
By Jim Clingman | Trice Edney News Wire exclusive | 1/26/2017, midnight
One of the post-election highlights for me was the meeting between Donald Trump and Bob Johnson. Billionaire to billionaire, Democrat to Republican, Black to White, businessman to businessman, capitalist to capitalist, meeting on a relatively even playing field to discuss some of the “what now issues” was intriguing to say the least.
After the meeting, Johnson wrote a press release and did several interviews to disclose the particulars of that conversation.
While the press summed up Johnson’s comments in one sentence, “Let’s give Trump a shot,” there was much more to it than that. I know that because Johnson graciously allowed me to interview him as well. And during our nearly one-hour conversation, he spoke openly about his political position vis-à-vis the election of Donald Trump, and his thoughts, recommendations, and reflections on a Black strategy moving forward. The following are excerpts from that interview:
Jim: Discuss our participation in local and national elections.
Bob: I think when we talk about where Black American voters are; and therefore Black Americans today are, we have to look at it in terms of the politics of a divided nation; we have become stagnant. You have two parties, Republican and Democrat, who get re-elected each year in terms of congressional districts because of the way district lines are drawn, where both parties have safe districts, so there’s no likelihood of being defeated in most cases. And therefore issues become rigid in their positions. Little has changed in Senate seats but pretty much the same where you are going to have some years where the Democrats control the House and or the Senate, some years where the Republicans control the house and or the senate. So it doesn’t change very much in terms of the attitude. And if you look at the polls, they show a divided nation, and there’s no such thing as term limits. So this kind of rigid stagnation stays pretty much in place.
Jim: That’s right.
Bob: Then you lay on the other issue that the demographics of the nation are changing where 20 to 30 years ago African Americans were the dominant minority group. Now as you go into 2020, Hispanics outnumber Black people, and they are scattered throughout the various states and also divided by cultural ethnicity based on their place of origin. So Mexicans are not the same as people from central and South America; Puerto Ricans aren’t the same as Cubans. And so you have this dichotomy of populations in the largest minority population that allows them the flexibility based on their cultural attitudes and origin to vote across party lines. They will vote Democrat in some states. They will vote Republican in other states. But it’s not a homogeneous vote, one way or the other.
And then you look at us. We (African Americas) are a block vote; we vote 95 percent one way.
Jim: Right, that’s part of reason the that we are ignored or taken for granted by both parties.
Bob: For a while we supported Republicans, because of the role they played all the way back to the civil war. Probably up to Richard Nixon, we were a block in the Republican Party. That started to change with John F. Kennedy, where we began to move closer to the Democratic Party, and since that time, we pretty much have become locked-in as an appendage of the Democratic Party. The long term problem with that is in a divided nation, where you are locked into one party in a two-party system, and you face a rising minority class that divides its vote across party lines, you ultimately will become marginalized in your voting power.