My ‘Black Job’ Is to Protect Democracy

Yes, Joe Biden is a flawed candidate, but Donald Trump is a threat to America. Our Black job, if there is such a thing, is to stop him.

by Keith Boykin

I’m not doing this again with y’all.

While Democrats debate how to respond to Joe Biden’s debate performance, Trump and the Republicans are plotting to erase the entire twentieth century.

If Trump wins, he would empower an army of radical right-wing activists who plan to implement Project 2025, dismantle civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights, rescind long-established progressive laws and policies, and swing a wrecking ball against the fragile institutions of government and democracy.

Yes, Joe Biden is a flawed candidate, but Donald Trump is a threat to America. If anyone should withdraw from the race, it’s the twice-impeached convicted criminal.

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But some critics are making the same miscalculation they made with Hillary Clinton. A Trump victory will not bring on a progressive people’s revolution, strengthen third-party candidates, or buy us time to elect a better Democrat in the next election. It will set us so far back that it will take decades to unravel, no matter who wins in 2028. America cannot afford to make that mistake again.

Back in 2016, I was teaching at Columbia University when college students were complaining about Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president. Many raised legitimate concerns, including her support for the unpopular war in Iraq. But others raised less substantive issues. She’s not likable. She panders. And the most memorable critique: they didn’t believe her when she appeared on “The Breakfast Club” and announced that she carried hot sauce in her purse.

A presidential election is not a popularity contest. It’s a job interview.

I, too, opposed the war in Iraq, and that was one reason why I voted for Barack Obama instead of Clinton in the 2008 presidential primary. But now it was 2016, and Clinton was the Democratic nominee facing a Republican opponent, Donald Trump, who posed a clear and present danger to democracy.

“If Hillary Clinton wins, we may have a liberal majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in nearly 50 years,” I posted on Twitter a few weeks before the election. 

That was eight years ago. 

Now, as Trump cements his legacy on the right-wing court, that opportunity could be lost for a generation, as Republicans have appointed six of the nine Supreme Court Justices.

Joe Biden is not the ideal candidate to represent the Democratic Party. He’s an 81-year-old white man leading a party that is increasingly represented by young people, women, and people of color.

I am not invested in the question of replacing Biden on the ticket.

I worked for Biden’s opponent when he ran for president in 1988. I did not vote for Biden when he ran the second time in 2008. And I did not support him in the Democratic primary in 2020. I even wrote articles criticizing him after he was elected president. But I did vote for him in 2020 because I knew he was the best available option. 

I am not invested in the question of replacing Biden on the ticket. I would vote for Biden, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, Wes Moore, Pete Buttigieg, or any other credible candidate that Democrats nominate. This election is not about them. It’s about protecting our rights.

US President Joe Biden greets supporters outside his hotel ahead of the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

For five years, I covered Trump as a political commentator for CNN, following his racist speeches, midnight tweets, and unhinged press conferences. Some Americans may not remember the constant chaos and crises from Charlottesville to Covid that defined the Trump years, but I do, and I refuse to go back.

I know that Democrats prefer young, articulate, charismatic presidential candidates in the tradition of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. I do too, but the young guys don’t always deliver. It was not JFK, but an older, less attractive Lyndon Johnson who signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, 60 years ago today. As Jesse Jackson said at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, “I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan on a horse.”

Trump is far more entertaining than Joe Biden, but a presidential election is not a popularity contest. It’s a job interview. Unfortunately, the majority of white voters plan to install a twice-impeached, quadruple-indicted, convicted criminal with a 50-year history of racism in the most powerful position in America. 

My Black job, if there is such a thing, is to stop them.

“Black Vote, Black Power,” a collaboration between Keith Boykin and Word In Black, 
examines the issues, the candidates, and what’s at stake for Black America in the 2024 presidential election.


Keith Boykin is a New York Times–bestselling author, TV and film producer, and former CNN political commentator. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Keith served in the White House, cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, cohosted the BET talk show My Two Cents, and taught at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York. He’s a Lambda Literary Award-winning author and editor of seven books. He lives in Los Angeles.



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