Democratic politicians should just stop going on The Breakfast Club. This is not necessarily the fault of the hosts, but I have yet to see any net benefit to the candidates. During the most pressing period in American politics since the 1960’s, Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and now Joe Biden have all had their campaigns distracted, derailed or possibly even destroyed by a moment of foolish dialogue that undrmines what could be a constructive political engagement.
This is what happens when people who earn their fame and fortune by gossipping about entertainment decide to occassionally wade in the pool of electoral politics. Somebody gets too excited and can’t control themselves so they wind up peeing in the pool and contaminating it for everybody. To be fair, the guilty party is as likely to be the candidate themselves as one of the eager hosts.
Don’t believe the hype, folks. The most problematic statement made during the parting exchange at the end of the Joe Biden interview on the Breakfast Club did not come from Joe Biden. It came from Lenard McKelvey, the radio shock jock that calls himself ‘Charlamagne Tha god.’ McKelvey is the star of the show- and I guess he better be considering he calls himself a ‘god.’ Right after Joe Biden made the now infamous “If you have trouble deciding to vote for me or Donald Trump you ain’t black” quip, Lenard made the blanket statement “This ain’t about Donald Trump. It’s about the fact that I want something for MY community.” That asenine statement, which I am sure Lenard thought was probing and prescient, is far more damaging than Joe Biden’s attempt at black-folk-backyard-bar-b-que humor. It tells you everything you need to know about why it is ill-advised for serious political figures to invest time with un-serious programs.
What in the hell did he mean by “something for MY community?” I have been hearing that kind of empty chirping for years now, most specifically as a hollow critique of Barack Obama’s presidency by black men with significant platforms. I have heard it from men I hold in high regard like Michael Eric Dyson, Toure and Ed Gordon. They all wanted “more” but they never can seem to explain what in particular. So now that sentiment has trickled down to black pop-culture platforms as a way to undercut Joe Biden. And beyond being self-destructive, it is plainly silly and politically petty.
The truth is that there is nothing short of a full scale reparations operation that will make the appropriate lasting impact on racial disparities in America. And we all know that ain’t gonna happen- at least no time soon. And to the extent that it could actually happen, THIS ain’t the time for that discussion. That is like making plans to renovate your house when the goddamned roof is on fire. And as much as we all love that famous verse “We don’t need no water let the mother-fucker burn! Burn mother-fucker, BURN!” I really don’t think we want to do that right now. Because if COVID-19 has reminded us of anything, it is that those flames will char our flesh FIRST. That smoke will singe our lungs FIRST. And we will die FIRST. So let’s continue to be the first to grab the fire hose and put out the fire- and Joe Biden is the hose we chose in the primaries. Letting the fire burn is not an option. And as Joe’s attempt at black humor awkwardly pointed out, WE ONLY HAVE TWO CHOICES.
Frankly, I despise the fact that we only have two legitimate choices for president in any election but the solution to that problem, just like that magical mystical majestical reparations operation, is so far off shore that we can’t even see it on the horizon. We only have Biden and Trump and here is the simple arithmetic of political survival:
Any black man who does not vote is supporting Trump.
Any black man who votes third party in this election is supporting Trump.
And any black man who votes for Trump simply needs his ass kicked.
Let me know where to sign up for that job because I’ll do it for free. Because I’m a nice guy, I’ll even exempt the foot-shufflers and head-scratchers who actually got jobs and drew paychecks from the Trump administration since self-interest is at the core of the human condition. But the other black men out there helping Trump sell his racist political snake oil need to know that Mike Tyson is not the only older guy who stays in shape and still packs a punch.
But setting aside my jestful threats of violence against shameless race-traitors, I realize that characters like ‘Charlamagne’ may actually believe that they are helping when they take off their entertainment hat and put on a political hat for a moment. And some folks have done it well in the past. Tom Joyner was a excellent at it. But until a platform is actually delivering elevated voter turn-out amongst its audience, the reality is that all it can do is hurt a campaign by exposing a candidate to unforced errors because they are trying too hard to be relatable.
And no matter how silly or trifling the issue might be- like what year Kamala Harris listened to what album while smoking weed, or whether Hillary Clinton really carries hot sauce in her purse, or how Elizabeth Warren has atoned for her offense to the indeginous tribes of Oklahma, it creates fodder for the opposition.
If this host really wants to make a contribution to public political discourse, he should interview from a list of his policy prescriptions and priorities and discuss them in detail- not just hector a candidate about his or her record. We can see that b.s. anywhere- and we do. Seeing it from a young-looking black guy wearing hip-hop gear does not make it any more valuable. As we have seen, it does a disservice to all stakeholders.