When President Trump met with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) this week, I was reminded of a fantasy I had during the 2016 campaign that involved then-candidate Trump shaking up the status quo and starting a different conversation with a new generation of African Americans. I imagined Trump, microphone in hand, standing in the streets of some of the poorest, most crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods, asking young African Americans, “Who do you think wants you to have a shot at getting rich: me or Hillary Clinton?” The answer would have been obvious. The media would have hated it and gone berserk. But I bet a few young African Americans would have thought they were hearing something new and intriguing from an American political leader.
It is obvious that Democrats don’t want anyone besides a select group of financial traders and Hollywood elite to be rich. Black poverty is the Democrats’ political ally, and everybody knows it. However, Trump is all about getting rich. He has probably thought about individual wealth creation more than any president in 150 years. And even though this new conversation didn’t happen, I think something like it is still possible.
Trump would be doing the Republican Party a huge service if he took this message to the new generation of young, determined and ambitious African Americans. But if he continues to play by the CBC’s rules, his meetings will predictably end with more stale courtesy photo ops and agreements to work together that won’t ever amount to much. And while the CBC says its meeting with the president this week was a “positive first start,” it’s clear that the CBC failed to offer any new approaches or bring any new energy to the table. Frankly, it’s about what you’d expect to happen between the CBC and any other Republican leader. The meeting was a missed opportunity.
Trump needs to leverage his position as a credible messenger when it comes to making money. He should have asked the CBC how many black millionaires there are in the United States. The CBC probably wouldn’t know. (Dennis Kimbro, author of “The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires,” estimates that there were only 35,000 black millionaires in 2009.) Then, Trump should have asked for two lists — one with 10 ideas about how to create more black millionaires and another with 10 policy proposals that would help increase overall African American wealth.
Trump can still ask the CBC and other black leaders for something like this. It’s not too late.