During Jim Crow blacks could eat from white establishments, provided we went around back to collect our plates. So it was during this year’s presidential election. Clinton had some points in her platform that might appeal to black voters–aid to HBCU’s and some moderate criminal-justice reforms–but I only know that because I went around back to gather the information. She occasionally said things in front of black audiences to indicate she was sort of on our side but I can’t think of one pro-black message she was strongly identified with throughout her campaign. What I can tell you is that Donald Trump was for banning Muslims and deporting Mexicans. No backdoor approach there, just an open love letter to his white base. The Democratic Party, by and large, just can’t love us to that degree publicly and that, more than Russia, sunk Hillary’s campaign. Democrats cannot win without 90 percent of the black vote. No other group can make that claim. Democrats can win without 90 percent of whites, Hispanics and Asians but not blacks. They need us, not the reverse.
We can stop examining the exit polls and crunching the numbers. Sure, the white working-class had anxieties about the economy but so did poor people of color, who did not vote for Trump. This was about racism. Donald Trump embraced white supremacy and created a home for racial violence throughout his campaign. Millions of Americans (read white people) saw that, understood none of it impacted them personally and chose to vote for Trump. The harm that may come to Latinos, transgender persons or others threatened by a Trump administration will be a direct result of the indifference shown by 60 million Trump voters. The impending suffering of others did not concern millions of Americans enough to stop it. That is precisely what racism looks like in the real world.
If I sold guns, my livelihood would depend on whether a candidate preferred war or peace. I can see why defense contractors are so invested in elections. Only about 53% of Americans voted in the 2012 presidential election; clearly half of the country didn’t feel that their livelihood depended on that election. Coincidentally, roughly half of the country earns less than $50,000 annually, according to American Community Survey data. Ask any of those under $50,000 earners how their most pressing day-to-day issue is being directly confronted in this election and they couldn’t tell you. But they aren’t stupid. Research by Dr. Thomas Hayes shows the voting record of Senators–of both parties–consistently align with the opinions of their wealthy constituents while the opinions of lower-class constituents never appear to influence their voting behavior.
My ancestors died for voting rights. My vote was purchased in blood and thus it is valuable. But it won’t really count next Tuesday. My vote only matters if I have identified the issues important to my community, pressed candidates to take a stance on those issues and feel confident that someone on the ballot will fight for them. None of those conditions will exist next Tuesday. No, the prospect of a third Clinton term is not at all equal to the lunacy of a Donald Trump presidency but let’s not be delusional and think that the concerns of black communities will be front and center. Sadly, we as black people must shoulder some of that blame.
Hillary Clinton visited a Black church in Charlotte Sunday, a city still wrestling with the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of police. In her address Clinton said, “I am a grandmother and like every grandmother, I worry about the safety and security of my grandchildren. But my worries are not the same as black grandmothers, who have different and deeper fears about the world that their grandchildren face.” Hillary Clinton only had to say that Blacks are more likely to be shot in the streets by the police–whom our tax dollars fund–in order to differentiate herself from the other guy.
On Saturday Donald Trump visited a black church in Detroit. Trump’s visit made this much clear: the black church is a weak shell of itself. In an age where churches struggle for relevancy and politicians only stop by for votes, black pastors are willing to give Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton) the floor for camera time and the illusion of access to circles of power. Rather than an institution that terrorizes the powerful with its message of truth and justice, the black church has been reduced to chasing the spotlight of “whosever will” come through the doors. Dr. King would roll in his grave.
Yes, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President. Yes, he is the same man who says utterly ridiculous, xenophobic and misogynistic things on the hour. No, he has never pretended to offer any substantive policy proposals to fix anything and yet here we are. Amazingly, Trump did not get here by force nor through some extortionist scheme. Millions of people actually went out to primaries and willingly voted for him. We keep pretending that isn’t true and ignoring this inconvenient fact will be our downfall. We are a nation stupid enough, ignorant enough and hateful enough to vote for this man. Defeating him this fall won’t fix that problem.
Hillary, before I give myself to you I need to know if you’ll still love me tomorrow. When evaluating politicians I first look for core convictions. That is, what is it that you’re absolutely committed to, no matter what? It matters. Things change and fashions change. Since criminal justice reform is en vouge today I’m sure you may cater to this issue I care so much about. However, what if it goes out of style tomorrow, as it did during the 90’s? Will you still be on my side? Please understand, Ms. Clinton, that the discussion of criminal justice reform is a bare minimum.
I binge on House of Cards every time Netflix drops a season: don’t judge me, you don’t know my life. Frank Underwood is a shrewd, evil genius that happens to be in politics. Frank rose from Congressman (Majority Whip) all the way to President in about five minutes, employing betrayal, manipulation, deceit and even murder: by any means necessary. Oddly enough, his rise to the presidency was literally prompted by nothing more than a chip on his shoulder, after not receiving a nod for Secretary of State. It was not a grand vision for the country or passion to help the oppressed that motivated Frank, simply the desire to be great and be acknowledged. Men that desire power, void of vision, are dangerous and unprincipled. Frank has proven that and I suspect Trump will also.
There was lead in the water but the government continually denied any health risks to the city’s residents. Only the persistence of a Virginia Tech professor brought the truth to light. I’m not talking about Flint, Michigan, by the way. Rather, I’m referring to our nation’s capital: Washington, DC.