Twice on Full Measure, we’ve profiled the anti-Trump “resistance” movement. Today, our cover story is a fascinating look at the flip side of the coin. Blacks, gays and other constituents who traditionally belong to Democrats are leading movements walk away from that political party. We begin with the founder of the Black Exit from the Democratic party, 30 year old Candace Owens.
We caught up with Candace Owens just before a recent crowd-pleasing appearance in the heart of Baltimore.
Where her fans lined up outside.
Jovani Patterson: There’s time for black people to leave the Democratic Party, leave the plantation.
Randy Short: We are working to get blacks to quit the Democratic party, we need to leave.
Owens:The media which has played a very sour role in hurting the relationships between all races.
Sharyl: In simple terms, explain what “Blexit” is.
Candace Owens: The Black Exit from Liberal agenda is really what Blexit is.
While there may not have been an awful lot of reporting about Black support for President Trump it turns out it’s quite a thing on social media.
Angela Stanton King rap - yeah it is the MAGA girl it should be obvious cause you know that we run the world..
Owens told me the story of why she decided to step forward and encourage other blacks to leave the Democrat party. Though she’s never voted, she says she always used to consider herself a Democrat.
Owens: Because Black people are supposed to be Democrats. And then something happened during the 2016 election cycle where I woke up. And it was largely due to the fact that the media was going around calling Donald Trump a racist.
News Clip: Donald Trump is a racist Xenophobic misogynist
Owens: And they were really overplaying their hand on this one, for me in particular, because I grew up listening to Hip Hop music. Everybody loved Donald Trump! Everyone wanted to be like Donald Trump. Beyonce and Jay Z were sipping poolside at Mar-a-Lago in their songs. And then suddenly he announces his bid for the White House and Black America was supposed to suddenly realize that he was a racist? I was a little too smart for that assessment.
In August 2017, Owens launched a YouTube channel with a spoof about how hard it is for a young African American to confess she’s conservative.
NATS: Mom, Dad, I think I might be a Conservative.
Owens: If you believe that Conservatives are racist and the Liberals are your saviors, and suddenly you go through this awakening period, there's a lot of shock.
From post-Civil War through the early the 20th century, black Americans voted mostly Republican, the party of Lincoln. The biggest shift came in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, backed the Civil Rights Act. He got 94 percent of the black vote that year. No Republican has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since.
Trump got just eight percent. Owens is working to change that.
Sharyl: What do you think, in your view, the Democrat Party has done wrong, or how has it failed the African American community?
Candace Owens: Well I would almost say in terms of what they wanted to do, they've done everything right. What they wanted to do was to marry us to their party by giving us a bunch of handouts, making sure that we would never get ahead and they were able to do that via the welfare system.
Owens now has 1.7 million followers on Twitter.
And she’s joined by other African Americans posting countless videos of support for President Trump.
Corey Fields says there might be less than meets the eye when it comes to Blexit.
He’s Associate Professor of sociology at Georgetown University and author of “Black Elephants in the Room.”
Fields: When you look at the BLEXIT movement, the platforms it has, when people are talking about it, it's coming out of conservative circles. So I think the movement, in some ways, has really resonated with folks on the political right
Sharyl: Who are already there?
Fields. Who are already there, yeah. I think it's certainly an open question to how effective it's been in terms of changing minds. It also allows certainly certain messages that pretty much operate as ways of chastising black people to be delivered by black voices. like, "Black people stop complaining about racism and work harder." That message coming from a white person would be highly critiqued, strongly critiqued as racist, and problematic, and troublesome. But that message coming from Candace Owens, gets to operate in a way where, can you call it racist because a black person said it? So...
Sharyl: Some of the things that you say if a white person said it, it would be called racist. So some critics say you have been given license, or given yourself license, to say racist things because you're black.
Candace Owens: I think the one thing that I say that offends people is that I'm "off the Democrat plantation.” And I mean that in its literal interpretation. That is not a racist phrase. I believe that the Democrats have mirrored the same strategies that they used when black Americans were slaves.
About the same time Candace Owens was having her “awakening”
Something similar was happening to another lifelong Democrat, Brandan Straka.
Straka: You know, I was one of these people who was absolutely horrified, crying, shattered, and so upset that Donald Trump had been elected President because I voted for Hillary Clinton.
But Straka says that as a gay man, he got to thinking.
Straka: While the media is telling me that Donald Trump and his supporters are bigots, racists, homophobes, what have you, I'm not really seeing it in reality any more and so I wanted to try to understand where the truth was. I started hearing about these very valid, very real reasons why people supported Donald Trump.
Sharyl: What makes you different in terms of, your mind was open to the idea that what you thought was true might not be? I don't think most people on either side feel that way.
Straka: So rather than spend the next four years of my life miserable, I wanted to find out if maybe things weren't as bad as they actually seemed. And it turns out they're not.
Straka launched a movement he calls hashtag WalkAway
For those who make the switch.. there’s often a backlash. Owens says Democrats frequently attack and misrepresent her. This video clip, where she fires back at a Congressional hearing, has about 4 million views online.
Owens: The audacity of you to bring up the Christchurch shooting manifesto and make it seem as if I laughed at people that were slaughtered by a homicidal maniac is in my opinion absolutely despicable! And I think we should be above that.
Sharyl: In terms of support that you've received from other Black Americans, what has that been like?
Owens: In the beginning, it was horrific. “Uncle Tom, house Negro, bed wench,” all of the horrible racist stuff, all of the slurs that are launched against Black Conservatives, but I knew that I was right. By then, I had had my awakening.
As for the man at the center of it allWell, President Trump has reached out to African Americans in events you won’t often see on the evening news.
Oct. 4 White House event: Trump: I have been doing this for a long time, that is the loudest I have ever heard anything in this room.
This was the line to get into a black leaders summit at the White House. And there are other signs the movement to exit or walk away from the Democratic Party has lots of interest.
Meantime, Owens says she’ll cast her first vote ever in 2020. It will be for Trump. How many other ex-Democrats will do the same unknown.
Sharyl: Is there any way to tell how large of a movement it is or is not, people leaving the Democrat Party for the Republican Party because they like Trump?
Candace Owens: The only true measure is going to be the exit polls in 2020, I think.
Sharyl: Your critics say there's not a mass exodus of Blacks leaving the Democrat Party. Blexit is more about White Conservatives showing they can be inclusive and you insulate the Republican Party against charges of racism.
Candace Owens: Right. So what I always say to critics that say that is these are the same people that said that MAGA wasn't happening in the country. They’re just completely wrong.
The Trump campaign just launched a “Black Voices for Trump” coalition to recruit more supporters in 2020.