Opinion: Black Folks and the White House’s 2024 Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

It’s political cuffing season and what the Biden Admin has done for African Americans lately is clear, but somehow there’s a messaging gap making everything fuzzy. Commentator Richard Fowler explains.

Just a day after the Republican Iowa Caucus and less than a month away from the South Carolina Democratic Primary, it is clear that if the 2024 election were a relationship status on social media, most folks would select, “It’s Complicated.”

Those complications have little to do with political parties or issue areas. They have everything to do with the White House's communication deficiencies, a lack of personal connection to voters and the voters' feelings about how the looming election impacts their daily lives.

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has been relatively successful in legislative and executive action accomplishments. Not only did his administration get our country and the world out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but his White House passed significant legislation that has rebuilt our country’s roads and bridges, invested in the nation’s public schools, lowered the cost of our senior citizens’ prescription drugs, expanded healthcare access to millions and made major investments into American manufacturing.

During Biden’s presidency, we as a nation have seen historic investments in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), an expansion and reengineering of the Child Tax Credit that reportedly reduced Black youth poverty by 50 percent; $132 billion in student loan debt cancellation for 3.6 million Americans; and the signing of two executive orders that banned no-knock warrants and the chokehold for law enforcement. Based on HIT Strategies analysis, the Biden Administration has made significant progress on 83% of the “Black Agenda.”

For the politicos out there, the Biden administration deserves its flowers.

Regrettably, despite these policy wins, Black folks feel like the Biden White House has abandoned them. According to 2022 voter data analysis, 73 percent of Black voters say their lives have not improved since President Biden has taken office. Even worse, 28 percent of Black voters under the age of 50 years old felt their lives had gotten worse since Biden took office.

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Morning radio show host Charlamagne tha God recently told , “In 2024, it’s a race between the cowards, the crooks and the couch,” referring to Biden, Trump and the option for voters to stay home.

While not speaking for the entire Black community, Charlamagne, host of syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club,” highlights the glaring complexity that voters feel as they stare down the 2024 election.

While Charlamagne’s defining of Biden as a crook is too harsh a criticism, he’s tapping into a feeling that many Black voters, especially those under the age of 50, have about the sitting president and Democrats in Washington.

In 2020, many of these voters saw the historic Biden-Harris ticket as the answer to their prayers of defeating Donald Trump. Though the Biden-Harris administration accumulated many legislative wins over the past three years, many Black voters never heard about them, felt them and never thought their vote was part of those victories.

To make matters worse, no one from the White House took the time out of their day to explain it to them. However, if the White House were to take the time to explain their victories and missteps, it would probably lead to a well-overdue lesson in American civics.

Whether it be our nation’s outdated immigration laws, the $1.5 trillion student loan debt crisis, or the stalled George Floyd, the lack of action on the issues keeping Black voters up at night is due to congressional inaction. This inaction is often a result of the overwhelming power of the Senate filibuster – a tactic where senators endlessly debate on a measure to delay or block a vote.

Regrettably, in a culture of instant gratification, the archaic rules of the Senate and the amount of time it actually takes to get things done have proven to be an almost impossible speed bump for the Biden administration to overcome.

With President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harrisboth being former senators, it is easy for them and their staff to believe that a solid legislative record and the boogeyman of Trump might be enough to get them the 270 electoral votes needed to reclaim the White House in 2024.RELATED: 5 Things We’re Keeping An Eye On In 2024

With time working in their favor, they could be right. However, if the election were today, many Black voters who once stood in line to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket might select Charlamagne’s third option, the couch.

Having spent the past two-and-a-half years navigating the impact of inflation and unaffordable housing prices, Black voters are in a tough place evaluating their support for the sitting president.

Another HIT Strategy analysis suggested that young Black voters trust Democrats and Republicans equally on economic issues. Terrance Woodbury, HIT Strategies co-founder and principal, believes this is “a challenge perpetuated by Democrat’s economic messaging often focuses on poverty reduction, rather than wealth creation.”

For example, everywhere you look on social media, Black folks are talking about creating side hustles, stacking cash and creating wealth for future generations. Now is the time for the White House and its re-election campaign to lean into that conversation. Stop talking about poverty reduction and start discussing what policy can be passed to make the pathways to wealth easier.

Election anxiety goes well beyond the economy. Many Black voters who see live reports of the Israel-Palestine conflict and horrifying images from the Gaza strip in their nightly newscasts question Biden’s foreign policy decisions and his campaign choice to make democracy the centerpiece of his re-election fight.

Here is the truth: Our democracy is in peril. But for Black voters, the erosion started way before Trump decided to run for president. It won’t be saved by singularly reelecting President Biden.

Moving some young Black voters from their apathetic malaise or erasing their complicated feelings about the president will require a departure from the lazy and stale approach of midday speeches and repetitive talking points from previous elections.

Over the next few months, changing Black voters’ relationship status from “It’s Complicated” to “In a Relationship” will require allaying their cynicism surrounding the Biden administration. That can be done with a message and sentiment that makes Black America feel central to the administration’s victories and centered in their future policymaking.

Beyond that, the Democratic Party must stop their obsession with Donald Trump. For Black voters, and to Charlemagne’s point, Trump is a crook. Reinforcing that messaging is not winning over anyone who is apathetic about the 2024 election.

And because it’s cuffing season, it might be time for the Democratic campaigner to get a little street in their approach. Instead of forcing voters to engage in a campaign’s conversation, it is time for the campaign to become the voters’ conversation.

Here’s another truth, folks: It’s cold outside, and it’s time to get cozy on all the issues that matter to Black voters to ensure they have an equitable shot at the American dream.

Richard Fowler is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, a millennial messaging expert and a Progressive Contributor for the Fox News Channel. Follow him on Instagram, @Richardafowler.

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