There is no one more excited than Wilfred Ruck that a larger number of Black people voted for Donald Trump this fall. Ruck, who is Black, voted for the president in 2016 and again in 2020.
NBC exit poll data suggest that 19% of Black male voters supported Trump this election. Ruck is proud to be among them.
“That is historic!” he says. “That is the biggest change in the last 50 years.”
Ruck, 61, lives in Charlotte. He is a licensed Medicare insurance agent. He also is a lifelong Republican and the vice president of the Mecklenburg Black Republican Club.
“I believe when all the votes are counted and all the legal battles are over,” Ruck says, “Biden will still have won.”
Still, Ruck shares the sentiment of many Republicans who say Biden only won because of voter fraud tied to mail-in ballots.
“Cries of ‘there’s insufficient evidence’ are just plain silly,” he says. “This looks like a robbery. You have to do the investigation to uncover the evidence of just how widespread and deep it is. Or isn’t. Those happy with the initial outcome don’t want to take a chance of finding out.”
Ruck explains his affiliation with the Republican Party in terms of his religious beliefs. He is a Christian and a member of South Charlotte’s Victory Christian Church. He says his religious values align well with Republican values, and that many others at his church agree.
“I only recently started going (to Victory) because I met another brother at a Republican event,” says Ruck, adding, “I’m conservative because I’m Christian.”
The Pew Research Center found that 9% of Black Protestants similarly voted for Trump.
Ruck’s religious beliefs include traditional views of sexuality. He asserts that this is God’s design.
“He created us male and female… It’s coded in our chromosomes and DNA,” Ruck says. “The secular standards of morality embraced by today’s Democratic Party are shockingly different than the sacred standards embraced by the Republican Party.”
In his spare time, Ruck volunteered to help Charlotte’s Black Republican candidates. That included canvassing, passing out literature and knocking on doors.
Ruck believes Trump will continue to fight against the results of the election.
“I fully expect Trump, being the alpha male he is, to fight and fully exhaust all legal options…at least until the electors vote in December,” Ruck says. “After all, certainly from his point of view, the Democratic Party spent the last four years trying to get rid of him and there is simply no way they are going to steal his re-election without a fight.”
Donald Trump wasn’t the first to run with the slogan of making America great. During the 1980s, Ronald Reagan used “Let’s make America great again” for his campaign slogan. Ruck liked what he heard and saw in Reagan, and he says that motivated him to become a Republican.
There’s something wrong, as Ruck sees it, when Black people expect other Black people to automatically support Democrats.
“Blackness has been an ideology,” he says. “To be considered authentically Black, among other things, you must have membership (in) and loyalty to the ‘Democrat’ Party.”
He gives three reasons why he challenges that, and thinks others should, too.
For one, he suggests researching the historical roots of both parties. The Republicans of Abraham Lincoln’s day, for example, were anti-slavery. The Democratic Party of that era supported candidates who were openly racist.
Next, he says Black people should reflect on their values and take note of how well their spiritual beliefs align the positions of either of the two parties.
Finally, Ruck says Black people should stop dwelling on what has historically been done to them, and instead focus on what they can do for themselves. Solely focusing on the past is a “psychological boogeyman,” he says.
“I want to make history worthy of my grandchildren reading about,” Ruck says. “Create a new history.”
While Ruck voted for Obama— “I’m not going to tell my kids I didn’t vote for the first Black president. I’ve got to vote for the guy”—he ended up disappointed with his leadership.
“I hoped things would be better,” Ruck says. “I believed in change.” In his view, nothing came of it.
“What did he do that was historic? What legacy does he have with us?” Ruck says. “I really think he could redeem himself if he took up the mantle of leader.”
Ruck voted for all Republicans on the ballot in 2016, and again in this election. “If it didn’t have an ‘R’ in front of their name, I didn’t vote for you,” he says. “I can’t take a chance. I need people that share my values.”
Still, he makes it clear that he doesn’t support everything the president says or does. When asked if he approves of some of the racially insensitive things that Trump has said, Ruck laughs.
“I do not,” he says. “Here’s another thing about conservatives. Conservatives don’t care about words. We don’t give the same value to words as we give to actions. Some people are so wrapped up in what people say, they don’t see what they do.”
Trump, he says, gets things done. Ruck cites the First Step Act Trump signed into law in 2018. It reduced the sentences of thousands of unfairly sentenced prisoners, 91% of whom were Black. Ruck also noted legislation Trump signed last year authorizing $250 million a year in assistance to historically Black colleges and universities.
“Trump has done more for Black people than President Obama,” Ruck says. “(Obama) ignored us.”
Ruck hopes the next administration will focus more on schools and school choice for parents and their children. He also wants to see more support for religious freedom.
“During the pandemic, many states added restrictions to churches that infringed on the right of assembly,” Ruck says, “including deeming churches non-essential and (imposing) unequal limits on gatherings.”
Jeannette Muhammad participated in a political reporting seminar at Queens University of Charlotte this fall.