Imagine being so desperate for support among a certain group of voters that you distort the truth to improve your standing. That is exactly what Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Buttigieg surges to 10-point lead in New Hampshire: poll MORE has done in South Carolina. With only 2 percent support among African Americans according to an average of national polls, Buttigieg is attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of black voters by touting support from high profile African American officials in South Carolina by saying that they support of his “Douglass Plan” for blacks. But there’s one problem with that, none of it’s true.
As noted by the Intercept, several prominent African Americans in South Carolina whom the Buttigieg campaign touted as endorsing his plan have publicly come out saying they did no such thing and, in fact, some of them are even supporting and have endorsed other candidates. So what gives? It is pure and simple desperation. Despite being the current frontrunner among his fellow candidates in Iowa, Buttigieg knows what we all know. You simply cannot become the Democratic nominee without African Americans.
All the fundraising in the world cannot save the young politician from Indiana, and doing well in a state that more closely resembles Norway than the rest of the United States does not help his case. His trouble with black voters runs deep, and there are two issues that make it clear why an overwhelming majority of them will not support his bid for the presidency.
After being sworn in as mayor of South Bend almost eight years ago, Buttigieg asked for the resignation of Darryl Boykins, the first African American police chief of the city. Boykins initially complied but later rescinded that decision. He was demoted to captain and eventually retired. Boykins allegedly caught white officers on tape making racist comments. Buttigieg sought to penalize Boykins by using the excuse that he was pressured by federal prosecutors to fire Boykins for violating the Wiretap Act.
However, Boykins argued it was a standard part of department procedure to wiretap certain phone lines. Boykins and his attorney questioned the claim by Buttigieg that the mayor was pressured by federal prosecutors, and later won a racial discrimination suit in which he received $50,000 from the city of South Bend.
This case is important because it shows that Buttigieg is incapable of properly dealing with allegations of racism. Considering the deleterious relationship many black communities across the United States have with police, it would be like committing suicide to put faith in his ability to heal the nation and solve this problem.
Pause for concern does not end there. Earlier this year, there was a police shooting in South Bend, and Buttigieg left the campaign trail to deal with the issue at home. With the media following closely behind, the mayor came off as both aloof and tone deaf to the pain and anger of local black residents. In one heated exchange, an understandably upset and emotional African American woman asked, “You want black people to vote for you?” Buttigieg shockingly answered, “I am not asking for your vote.”
The visual of that moment had a seismic impact that rippled across the entire black community. He was disrespectful and entitled. He showed an unwillingness to immerse himself in the pain of his constituents, and that unfortunate moment alone was a disqualifying fall from which he may never recover.
From the way he Boykins to his response to the police shooting, Buttigieg has shown black voters that he is not ready to lead a country that is divided and plagued with issues that warrant an experienced leader. Attempting to deceive black voters in South Carolina is an intellectual insult to African Americans and another reason why black voters will likely remain apprehensive of Buttigieg.
For many black voters, the calculation is simple. If Buttigieg is poorly equipped to deal with matters of race in a place as small as South Bend, he certainly is not capable of dealing with them across the entire United States.
Shermichael Singleton is a Republican strategist and political analyst regularly appearing on MSNBC. Follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.