OPINION: We ranked the current presidential candidates from both parties in terms of the threat they posed to Black Americans.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Who is the worst?
Most Americans differ in their opinions on economic policies, experience and qualifications. Some people want to like the person they vote for while others base their voting decision solely on their individual political leanings. But, if you’re Black and not named Jason Whitlock or Stephen A. Smith, there’s one thing you can agree on:
While it is impossible to know which 2024 presidential contender is the most racist, it is possible to look at their policies, history and actions and determine how they would affect Black Americans. So, instead of determining which of the 2024 candidates would be the best for Black Americans, we decided to rank them in terms of how much potential harm they could do to African-American citizens. Our threat level rates them on a scale of 0 (no threat) to 5 (Florida).
12. Marianne Williamson
Who she is: The 70-year-old Democratic longshot is a spiritual leader, pastor, author and ultimately, a politician who has never held political office.
What she’s done for Black people: Never held office.
Anti-Black analysis: Marianne Williamson is not a flawless candidate. Her campaign site seems to have a plan for addressing every issue facing America, including LGBTQIA+ rights, climate change, Native Americans, women’s rights and even justice for animals (I’m not making this up). Yet, for some reason, aside from reparations, she doesn’t seem to have a specific plan for Black America. While some may find that bothersome; don’t worry, there is a good reason why a Williamson presidency would be great for African Americans:
Marianne Williamson will never be elected president.
Threat level: 0
The only way that Williamson could even win the Democratic nomination is through the power of metaphysical manifestation, the magic of crystals and the prayers of Black grandmothers. And if Black people’s prayers actually had an effect on presidential politics, Black people would be fine.
Personally, I can’t even imagine a country that believed that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.
11. Joe Biden
Who he is: Depending on what one believes, Biden is either the 46th president of the United States or the illegitimate president who stole an election from Donald Trump.
What he’s done for Black people: Appointed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, who helped create the U.S. Sentencing Commission policy that resulted in the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in American history. Appointed a record number of Black women and nonwhite judges to the federal bench. His marijuana pardons and student debt relief disproportionately benefit African Americans. The Small Business Administration provided $17 billion in loans and issued an executive order prioritizing government contracts for Black-owned businesses. The CARES Act provided record amounts for HBCUs and underfunded Black school districts. If Trump deserves criticism for saying there were good people on both sides of white supremacy, then Biden deserves credit for calling white supremacy a threat to democracy.
Perhaps the greatest argument for four more years of Biden is that it means there will not be another four years of Trump.
Anti-Black analysis: It is fair to criticize Biden for both his failings and shortcomings as president–especially after he received the overwhelming support of Black voters.His administration created the Safer America Plan, which called for an additional 100,000 police officers to shoot Black people in the face but offered no accountability. He will not specifically say that he supports reparations (because he does not support reparations). He has a tendency to defer to Congress on issues that affect Black Americans (i.e voting rights and police reform) but will literally walk into a war zone for the things in which he believes. To be fair, Biden’s flaws have less to do with him being a moderate Democrat who, like the party he represents, chases white voters at the expense of ignoring the will of their most loyal demographic base.
Joseph Biden is just an old white man.
Threat level: 1
Biden might be the least dangerous of the old white men running for president.
10. Perry Johnson
Who he is: Johnson, a GOP hopeful, is a businessman known for his two-cents plan, which would shave two cents off every dollar spent by the federal government. He lost the race for Michigan governor in 2022.
What he’s done for Black people: Aside from losing the race for Michigan governor, Johnson’s greatest gift to Black people is proving that widespread voter fraud is real. According to the Michigan elections bureau, 6,983 of the signatures Johnson secured to get his name on the 2022 Michigan ballot were fraudulent.
Anti-Black analysis: Johnson’s policies include ending the Department of Education, hiring 300,000 new cops and giving parents “absolute control of who is educating their children.”
I’m sure that will work.
Threat level: 2 …
9. Vivek Ramaswamy
Who he is: Part carnival barker, part snake-oil salesman, the “CEO of Anti-Woke, Incorporated” is a pharmaceutical entrepreneur who conned investors into believing he had the cure for Alzheimer’s.
What he’s done for Black people: If Ramaswamy hadn’t created the template that gave us the “pharma bro,” Martin Shkreli wouldn’t have had enough money to buy that unreleased Wu-Tang album. And, according to my math, at least .0000000001 percent of African Americans are members of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Anti-Black analysis: Ramaswamy claims to be more “America first” than Donald Trump and also supports abolishing the Department of Education, the IRS and the FBI. The 37-year-old GOP candidate wants to end diversity, equity and inclusion, defund Democratic cities, pardon the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, fire 50% of federal employees (who are disproportionately Black), penalize corporations who support social justice causes and criminalize Black history.
Threat level: 2.4
While Ramaswamy has as much of a chance of becoming the GOP nominee as the beautiful and mysterious Rama Lama Ding Dong, he has a larger soapbox — one that trumpets anti-Black narratives and falsehoods.
8. Larry Elder
Who he is: Elder is a right-wing political commentator who failed to capitalize on his status as the “Black Rush Limbaugh” during California’s 2021 gubernatorial recall race.
We know what Rush Limbaugh would’ve called Elder.
What he’s done for Black people: Lose California’s 2021 gubernatorial race.
Anti-Black analysis: Pick a political position that harms Black people and Larry Elder supports it. He is an advocate for school choice and a fierce opponent of diversity, equity, inclusion and shapeups. A celebrated CAVE man ( Caucasian American Vernacular English Master of Acronyms and Nicknames), Elder is a one-man echo chamber for white dog whistles, including “election integrity” (aka voter suppression), critical race theory (Black history) and the “woke agenda” (inclusivity).
Threat level: 2.5
While Elder has as much chance at becoming president as fellow candidate Violet Ramennoodle, he has a larger platform and darker skin, which matters to Republicans.
7. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Who he is: If white privilege was a person …
What he’s done for Black people: He helped secure a $289 million victory against Monsanto for Dewayne “Lee” Johnson but that’s just one Black person, so…
Anti-Black analysis: Kennedy is a typical far-left white liberal. He’s an anti-vaxxer and a conspiracy theorist. He also claims he met with Trump to head a commission on vaccines and science, despite his lack of vaccine and science training. He’s appeared at Christian nationalist events and QAnon conventions.
Threat Level: 2.6
He’s just a rich, crazy white boy.
6. Asa Hutchinson
Who he is: He’s the former governor of Arkansas who worked in the Bush administration.
What he’s done for Black people: We’ll let you know when he does something.
Anti-Black analysis: Hutchinson was the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration under George W. Bush before leaving to become the head of what would become the TSA. He was a virulent anti-masker during his term as governor but not after he left office. He also executed a Black man who was probably innocent.
Threat level: 3 (Arkansas-level threat)
Asa Hutchinson won’t be president but he’s just the kind of mediocre white man who could emerge from nowhere and become president.
5. Nikki Haley
Who she is: The GOP candidate served as South Carolina governor before becoming the Trump administration’s United Nations ambassador.
What she’s done for Black people: She called for the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina State Capitol after supporting the flag for years. Look, I had to put something in this category.
Anti-Black analysis: Nikki Haley is a Republican.
Like most Republicans, she refers to Black history as “CRT” and thinks that white men should be in control of women’s lady parts. But Haley is just a woman who works in a party that caters to white people. Most of the anti-Black policies that she supports are neither conservative nor extreme; they’re just white.
And that’s what makes her dangerous.
She isn’t MAGA, but she was willing to serve in the Trump administration. Her mother taught in a majority-Black school district and her father taught at a historically Black college, but she is willing to repeat the Republican anti-CRT rhetoric. She understands why people oppose extreme abortion bans but she won’t buck her party.
Threat level: 3.2
Nikki Haley is not just willing to buy into the GOP ideology…
Nikki Haley is a sellout.
3. Tim Scott:
Who he is: The GOP senator from South Carolina is currently the highest-ranking Black Republican (unless you count former Deputy Shucking Director Candace Owens’ appointment as secretary of jiving)
What he’s done for Black people: For years, Tim Scott pushed for the Walter Scott Notification Act, legislation that would “incentivize reporting on deadly shootings by law enforcement.” He also fought for …
No, that’s it
Anti-Black analysis: Tim Scott is the most dangerous kind of Larry Elder because he is Black.
The GOP made him the point man on police reform after the death of George Floyd partly because he was the only Black guy they had. When the talks failed, the GOP used Scott as a human deflector shield to ward off accusations of racism. It’s also why Republicans trotted him out after Biden’s first joint address to Congress to declare that “America is not a racist country.” Scott was willing to paint his grandfather as a poor, illiterate cotton picker, carry Donald Trump’s water, vote against the first Black, female Supreme Court justice and once told me that he has no idea what “systemic racism” means.
That’s why I object when anyone refers to Tim Scott as a “coon.” He is smarter than a raccoon.
He just plays one on TV.
Threat Level: 3.8
2. Donald Trump
Who he is: Stop playing.
What he’s done for Black people: He got himself kicked off Twitter, exposed the lie of a post-racial America and showed Black America that we need to improve on our rioting skills.
Anti-Black analysis: Donald Trump rebooted the white supremacy cinematic universe. However, because of his unique lack of skill and intelligence, the threat posed by Trump doesn’t come from his political policies or his ideology. He serves as an inspiration to racists everywhere.
As much as white people hated Obama, it wasn’t until Trump that neo-Nazis were bold enough to schedule parades and storm Capitol buildings. He didn’t “normalize” white supremacy, he made racism aspirational. He made anti-Black dog whistles a prerequisite for GOP politics. Critical race theory existed before Trump became president; he made it a threat. The word “woke” was used in hit songs and on the front page of the New York TImes, but Trump managed to turn it into a pejorative. Diversity, equity and inclusion was once a good thing, but under Donald Trump, everything Black is evil.
Threat level: 4.7
Donald Trump is the whitest president ever.
1. Ron DeSantis
Who he is: Supreme führer of Florida and Elon Musk’s bestie.
What he’s done for Black people: Because of DeSantis, we can tell our aunt in Florida: “I would love to drive down to see you but the NAACP won’t let me.”
Anti-Black analysis: Ron DeSantis took the Trump playbook, combined it with political experience and used it to create an actual roadmap to authoritarianism. He didn’t just co-sign “anti-wokeness,” he made it into actual law. He didn’t just oppose diversity, he made it illegal. He kidnapped immigrants and criminalized sexuality. He is creating an anti-Black ethnic cleansing movement that is real and tangible.
But Florida is just a clinical trial.
Other states have adopted his racist, transphobic, homophobic, and xenophobic laws and put them into action. And now he’s ready to take it nationwide.
Threat level: Florida
Michael Harriot is a writer, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His book, Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America, will be released in September.
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