For months, one of the most hotly discussed, rarely seen phenomena in presidential politics has been the Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump crossover voter. After a long, acrimonious primary season that saw the Vermont senator mount a serious challenge to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, it's not hard to see why — it's only natural to wonder if some number of his disaffected supporters might cross party lines.
In reality, the polls suggest there are very few of them. But it's not as if they're completely mythical, as a political organizer named Bruce Carter just proved. According to a report from BuzzFeed, the former head of "Black Men for Bernie" is launching a new political organization, aimed at making positive inroads with black voters for one of the candidates, and thus boosting black voters' ability to hold both parties accountable. That's how Carter characterized it, at least, and the candidate is none other than Trump.
If Trump wants to fix what remains an unfavorable general election map — even though the recent tightening in the polls has surely struck fear into the hearts of many a Democrat — finding a way to better appeal to black voters, hopefully without quite so much yelling about how awful their lives are, would be a great start.
While Carter told BuzzFeed News that he intends to vote for Trump because he'd feel like a "hypocrite" to do otherwise, he also drew a distinction between what he's doing and truly endorsing the boastful real-estate magnate. In his own words, Carter's goal is to boost black support for Trump as a means to prevent the Democratic Party from taking black voters for granted, thus increasing their ability to exert political influence. It's a stated goal he'd apparently follow to a considerable extreme, though, even saying that he didn't care whether Trump is a racist or not:
For me, [if Trump] is racist or not racist, it's irrelevant — we don't have to be the best of friends. I don't know where it's going to go but there's going to be a chance for people's lives to get better. Under Democrats, it's shown that it won't happen.
The name of the group doesn't make its focus on black outreach quite as apparent as Black Men for Bernie did — it's called "Trump for Urban Communities." As Ryanne Persinger noted for the Philadelphia Tribune, however, Carter and the group's online presence is thick with anti-Clinton and anti-Democratic rhetoric, including warning about the perils of letting a Democrat appoint Supreme Court justices.
We cannot afford to allow a self-serving POTUS and the Democrats to prevail, especially in light of the Supreme Court appointments (1 to potentially 3) that will occur this election cycle.
Simply put, regardless of what Carter is characterizing this effort, the actual content his group has put out seems pretty single-minded in its focus on advancing the conservative (or Trumpian) agenda. The Urban Communities for Trump website includes video of Clinton's infamous "superpredators" remark, some testy moments between she and Obama during the 2008 primary debates, and one of her being denounced by controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who describes her as a "wicked woman."
For his own part, Trump has made passing attempts to woo both Sanders' supporters and black voters so far throughout the campaign, although never to a particularly nuanced or effective way, and often in ways that would seem to antagonize the same people he wants to charm. Despite occasionally invoking Sanders' name and sympathetically suggesting he lost because of a "rigged system," Trump has also lambasted him as "weak" and "pathetic," broadsides that the formerly Sanders-supporting Carter hasn't publicly addressed.
And despite ostensibly asking black voters to take a second look at him, his pitch in that area's been pretty wildly offensive too — he summed it up pretty well when he said "What the hell do you have to lose?" because that's really all that's there. And in case you're curious about the scale of the problem: not only are about 90 percent of Sanders supporters on-board with Clinton, Trump is drawing the support of a scant five percent or so of black voters nationwide.