Donald Trump has been warning recently that a Biden presidency would “abolish the suburbs.” Much of this has to do with Biden’s support for a 2013 Obama-era rule that makes it easier for borrowers, homebuyers, and tenants to sue for unintentional housing discrimination. As it turns out, Trump miscalculated with his intended audience, and the whole thing just blew up in his face.
In 2019, the Trump administration proposed a change to the Obama rule that would require a greater burden of proof and add new defenses to make it nearly impossible for any plaintiff to prevail. Trump assumed that mortgage lenders and other real estate professionals would throw their support behind his effort to undermine fair housing. Indeed, trade groups such as the American Bankers Association jumped on board.
Trump is now learning that the world has changed since 2019. America is pushing back in meaningful ways against systemic racism, and even businesses and organizations that would benefit from deregulation are saying they don’t want an advantage if it involves treating people unfairly because of their race.
Remarkably, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the four largest banks in the United States, are all urging Trump to drop his obnoxiously antiquated proposal. In a letter this week to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, for example, Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Michael DeVito pointed out that “Americans’ attention to racial discrimination is more pronounced and expansive” and that people across the country are focusing on the fact that “centuries of discrimination, segregation, and economic disenfranchisement have lasting impacts today.”
Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest lender, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the nation’s largest trade organization, are also demanding that Trump drop his new racist hot potato. Citing the “tragic killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor” and the coronavirus pandemic’s “disproportionate toll on minority populations,” NAR this week urged the Trump administration to acknowledge that “now is not the time” for regulations that promote systemic racism in the United States.
Trump began his career in real estate by violating housing discrimination laws. Now that he is in the White House, Trump is trying to rewrite those same laws to make it easier for others to get away with racism. The problem for Trump is that the civil rights tide is turning quickly, and America is screaming for a leader who can steer us forward. As we move closer to Election Day and dream of brighter days, Trumpism will continue hurtling toward irrelevancy.