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SAUNDERS: Biden to Black students: You’re nothing without me


Rapper Cardi B told Rolling Stone that she won’t vote in November. It was bad news for President Joe Biden, since the influential entertainer, who describes herself as Afro-Latina, endorsed him in 2020.

At 31, Ms. B stands out as one of many younger and minority Americans who feel that the Biden administration isn’t delivering what they wanted. She told Rolling Stone that between the high cost of living and U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel, “I feel like people got betrayed.”

In November, a survey by The New York Times and Siena College found that 22 percent of Black voters in key battleground states said they’d vote for former President Donald Trump — a big leap from the 8 percent of the Black vote Trump won in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

A more recent Times/Siena sampling of voters under age 45 found that 70 percent disapprove of President Biden.

Team Biden is acutely aware of the need to boost enthusiasm — and participation — among these two heavily Democratic-leaning demographics.

So eyes were on the president’s Sunday commencement address at the historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta.

“You started college just as George Floyd was murdered and there was a reckoning on race. It’s natural to wonder if democracy you hear about actually works for you,” Biden, 81, told the graduates and their families.

“What is democracy if Black men are being killed in the street?”

Of course, Biden is free to engage in grievance politics, but his remarks about democracy not working for Black people may have turned off those who see more progress than the president chose to acknowledge.

It’s instructive that Biden’s speech generated what Politico described as “mild applause” among Morehouse graduates, a small number of whom turned their backs as Biden spoke, while others wore pro-Palestinian accessories.

(Before the speech, Morehouse President David A. Thomas told students the college would not allow disruptive behavior. “I have also made a decision that we will also not ask police to take individuals out of commencement in zip ties. If faced with the choice, I will cease the ceremonies on the spot.”)

The Morehouse remarks were the 2024 version of Biden’s efforts to woo Black voters in 2020, when he told radio talk-show host Charlamagne tha God, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”

Mockery ensued.

Back to Biden and his efforts to retain a hold on registered Black voters who, according to Pew, say they would prefer to vote for Biden over Trump by a margin of 77 percent to 18 percent.

Biden can’t afford to lose a modest percentage of that voting bloc, so Biden is resorting to fear-mongering. He’s telling Black Americans: You’re nothing without me.

This is not a first. In 2012, the then-vice president told a racially-diverse audience that if Republican nominee Mitt Romney were elected president, “They’re going to put you all back in chains.”

Now he’s essentially saying that democracy doesn’t work for Black people.

So why would Black people or young Americans vote for him?

Contact Review-Journal Washington columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on X.

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