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Persuasion Advice for African-Americans - Dilbert Blog

Persuasion Advice for African-Americans

President Obama’s presidency did a lot to diminish racial bias simply because he was a black president who – in the opinion of many, including me – did a good job. As a role model, he was exceptional. But all the factors that made him a great role model are the same factors that prevented him from doing much for the African-American community. It would have looked like favoritism if he had focused too much in that area. The resistance from the right would have been ferocious. And it would have ruined Obama’s brand. People loved Obama in part because he didn’t focus on his race. The country needed that.

Now we have President Trump. You might not realize it yet, but this is an extraordinary opportunity for the African-American community to make some gains. In the standard 2D view of the world, Trump is a typical Republican who you expect to do little or nothing for minority interests. But in the 3D world of persuasion, the door of opportunity for African-Americans just swung wide open. If that is still invisible to you, let me draw a picture.

President Obama didn’t need to deliver any special improvements to the African-American community. His existence was the change. But Trump is in a deep “Hitler hole” that his opponents dug for him. He needs a way out.

And that opens the door.

If the African-American community has a specific set of proposals that Trump can sell to Republicans, this is the time to do it. He needs the black community more than they need him. That’s the perfect negotiating situation. 

The African-American community is mostly aligned with the anti-Trumpers of every type. Their interests are getting lost in the noise. What they need is a simple, bold plan that they can sell to the President, and he can sell to the country. Remember, President Trump needs the help. This is the perfect time to negotiate.

I’ll give you an example of what such a plan might look like, just for discussion purposes. This is only an example so you can see what sort of scope I’m talking about.

Suppose some organized group of African-Americans puts together a slavery reparations plan that focuses on free college education as the compensation. The plan would call for universal free college (to get all the liberals onboard) but specify that any such plan has to be phased in over a decade for practical reasons. And that means someone has to go first. Why not start with African-Americans who are also below a certain economic level?

Republicans like the idea of free college too. They just don’t know how the country could pay for it. I think technology will eventually solve the college expense problem by making online schooling more effective. But instead of waiting until something changes, it would be useful to have a phased plan to get us moving in the right direction. You have to start small, and one way to do that is by starting with college-bound African-Americans. 

Keep in mind that we have to start with one group or another. I can’t imagine turning a switch and making college free for everyone at the same time. And if someone has to go first, there is no real way to avoid discrimination. If you limit free college to the poor, the middle-class gets screwed, and so forth.

I think Trump could argue that offering free college to the demographic group with the most social friction is also the best path for long-term economic prosperity. In simple terms, helping one white male make 20% more income might be less valuable to society than putting one black male into the productive workforce. Republicans need to hear an economic argument, and I think there is one in this case.

This hypothetical plan of offering free college for African-Americans would work best if paired with student loan relief of some kind that applies to everyone. That would take some of the sting out of the “fairness” critics. And it also needs to be wrapped in a larger plan to get to free college for all, eventually.

President Obama would have had zero chance of selling a plan like the one I just described. It would have looked super-racist coming from a black president. But if Trump tries to sell this sort of plan, it would solve his biggest brand problem because it wouldn’t look Hitlerish in the least.

The big obstacle with this idea, as you will eagerly tell me, is that even Trump can’t sell the idea of free college for African-Americans. Someone needs to pay for it, and Republicans don’t like that part. But remember, you didn’t think Trump could sell himself into the presidency either. My advice to African-American voters is to challenge the president with a specific plan. See what he can do.

You might be surprised. 

African-Americans have negotiating leverage right now because President Trump needs a win. Bring him a constructive plan and see what happens.

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