As a Black Man in America, as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in presidential campaigns. On the night when Barack Obama was elected President, as many did, I shed tears of joy. I thought of how I wish my parents were here to see this. I remember my Dad, Rev. Vassie L. Peek, many decades ago saying “Lonnie during your life time, there WILL be a Black President.”
America and the world now find themselves on the front row observing an unexpected presidential ‘nightmare’. Billionaire Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President. His battle with the first woman nominated by a major political party, Democrat Hillary Clinton, is a ‘tug of war’.
Historically, the African American and Hispanic vote has gone to the Democratic Presidential candidate. Trump’s recent special efforts to reach out to these two voting blocs is interesting. He formed a National Hispanic Council to advise him on how to influence that constituency. They were told by Trump that he would soften his stance on deporting those of Hispanic descent who are here illegally and that he would consider some type of program that would give them a ‘pathway forward’ to citizenship.
Well, after his meeting with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, later that night, while giving a major speech on immigration policy, Trump changed on any ideas of an amnesty plan. Members of his Hispanic Council felt betrayed and being used as ‘Hispanic props’. Surprise!
Recently, Trump ventured into Detroit in an effort to reach out to Black Folks. He accepted an invitation from Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, owner of Impact Network, the only Christian TV station owned by African Americans. Not without controversy, some raised objections to Bishop Jackson’s invite to Trump, but we must put it into perspective that this was a business decision to get him to Detroit. Understand that Hillary Clinton has also been invited.
During Trump’s prepared speech before the congregation, he spoke on how the African American church has been a ‘moral compass of America.’ True! And while somebody wrote a very scripted presentation for him, there were several points that I could not digest. One was when he stated that “the present political system only benefits the rich.” If I recall correctly, when questioned about his numerous bankruptcies he stated “All I did was use what was available to me to my benefit”. He didn’t care about the companies that went bankrupt because he never paid them or the workers that lost their jobs. Then he said, “when you see worker’s wages falling, that’s wrong,” he previously stated that America’s workers are paid too much and that he does not support raising the minimum wage.
Then, there’s the issue of all of his merchandising productions are done in foreign countries. He has no manufacturing produced in America. Then, he had the audacity to say “our nation is too divided, we spend too much time talking past each other”. Now this man wants to build a wall… wants to deport 11 million folks, want to deny immigrants entry before passing a test of, what he calls, allegiance to America. He also has talked about women and how people look. Talk about ‘spewing the vision… he masters that. He is a hypocrite.
In order to put Trump’s candidacy into perspective, you must also understand that he is representing the Republican Party. So, what does the Republican Party represent that benefits Black folks?
Well, here in Michigan, Republicans are leading the charge to disallow straight party ticket voting. This process permits voters to choose an entire slate of candidates, based upon their party, with just one ballot marking. This is a method that many Black voters utilize because it facilitates the voting process. It was abolished in January 2016 by Republican legislators. In July 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain issued a preliminary injunction stopping the enactment of this law. His ruling stated that it will reduce African American’s opportunity to participate in the state’s political process and will suppress their right to vote…. making the voting process more complicated. Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson have filed an appeal.
Then, we have South Carolina and Texas’s proposed Voter Picture ID Laws. They were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Research showed that these laws focused on the Black population. In the court’s ruling it stated that “it targeted Black voting patterns with surgical percussion”. These laws also eliminated same-day registrations which allows you to register and vote on the same day. Republican legislatures declared that this was necessary to curtail voter fraud, even though research showed that in both states there is very little voter fraud.
These voter restriction actions proposed by the Republican Party are known as ‘voter suppression’. In other words, instead of making it easier to vote, Republicans want to make it more difficult for minorities because they generally vote Democratic.
Another issue is on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland for the Supreme Court in March 2016. He is a well known figure in Washington circles, with impeccable legal credentials. Even though Republicans and Democrats have both agreed that this judge is a consensus builder and legal scholar, he has never been given a hearing or brought before the committee that recommends a vote for a candidate. The Republicans blocked any forward progress and would not give him the courtesy of moving his nomination forward. Why not?
They stated that President Obama did not have the right to nominate a candidate, since he was a ‘Lame Duck President’. Nowhere is this stated as a law. So does being a Lame Duck President mean you don’t do anything in your final year? They wanted to block President Obama, anticipating that a Republican could win the presidency and they would then make the next nomination.
President Obama made a statement several months ago that “usually when different parties disagree, they come together and work out compromises.” But these Republican’s main objective during his presidency is to block whatever he proposes. Why is that? Does this have anything to do with Presidents Obama race? Well, they would never admit that.
One more issue that was lead by Republicans was the ‘birther movement’. These were individuals who hounded President Obama to show his birth certificate. This was done to discredit him, claiming that he was not born in America, therefore, disqualifying him to be President. This effort had never been done for any other presidential candidate or president. Well, guess who was one of the main leaders of this movement? That’s right… Donald Trump! He got in front of the parade to harass the first Black President to force him to prove that he was born in America.
When the President released his birth certificate, Trump held a press conference and stated, “I’m so proud of myself today, no one else could get him to show his birth certificate, but I did.” Trump used this issue to raise his profile and position himself among a certain constituency that he would later tap into during this presidential season.
So ooo, what does Black folk gain by voting for Trump? They will be voting for a man that’s a hypocrite, a divider, one who attacked the first Black President… one who has put countless companies out of business, forced workers to lose their jobs, manufactures his products abroad. So what do you have to gain… NOTHING! What do you lose… EVERYTHING AND your self-respect!