Southern White Evangelicalism and Racism: A Compelling Intersection

It’s time to Break It Down!

As the 2016 Presidential Election season wound down recently, a counterintuitive and for many, troubling, alliance was highlighted by a number of observers. The GOP Nominee, and subsequent winner of the Election, having garnered 316 Electoral Votes (270 Electoral Votes are required to be elected President), Donald Trump, attracted the support of the lion’s share of white Americans who identify as Evangelicals. According to CNN exit polls, 80% of persons who identified as born-again or Evangelical Christian said they voted for Donald Trump. Of those polled 16% said they voted for Hillary Clinton, while the remaining 4% said they voted for someone else, or they did not respond to the question. (National Polling based on 24,558 Respondents)

Over the past 17 months I have unpacked numerous aspects of the, shall we say, unconventional means and methods employed by Mr. Trump on what we now know was his road to the White House. By and large, many, if not most of those means and methods would likely be deemed incongruous with the folkways and mores of the born-again and Evangelical Christian community.

Before I examine this oddity any further, allow me to establish (at least from my viewpoint) some of the baseline parameters of Evangelicalism, and the born-again, and Evangelical movement:

  • Evangelicalism

The term “Evangelicalism” is a broad definitional “canopy” that covers a diverse number of Protestant traditions, denominations, organizations, and churches. In the English-speaking world, the modern term usually describes the religious movements and denominations which sprung forth from a series of revivals that swept the North Atlantic Anglo-American world in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The concept of evangelism—revival-codified, streamlined, and routinized by evangelists like Charles G. Finney (1792-1875)—became “revivalism” as evangelicals set out to convert the nation. Post World War II, changes in American society wrought by powerful forces such as urbanization and industrialization, along with new intellectual and theological developments, began to weaken the power of evangelicalism within American culture.

In the 20th century evangelicalism still held the status of a pervasive American “folk religion.” This is particularly so in many sectors of the United States, especially the South and certain areas of the Midwest.

  • Evangelical Christian

An Evangelical Christian is a Protestant who spreads the Gospel. In recent decades the term has narrowed to designate a white conservative Protestant, usually with a belief in the inerrancy of scriptures. “Evangelical” includes Fundamentalists.

Fundamentalism” is not an organization but a style of religious activism:

There is no single accepted way to define who is an Evangelical. Pollsters often pose the query, “Are you a born-again Christian?” to define the group. Sociologists tend to look at membership in specific denominations, and often include the Holiness Movement, Pentecostal and Nazarene groups. Some scholars focus on the Bible beliefs, together with a personal commitment to Christ.

Christian researcher and author George Barna defines “Evangelicals” as a subset of those who meet the basic criteria defining born again Christians, but who also meet several other doctrinal conditions. A distinction is then enabled to be manifest in other areas of faith beliefs.

That is a lot of preamble to lead to what I consider an inescapable conclusion. To wit, Donald J. Trump is an unlikely candidate to be embraced, endorsed, and ultimately adopted by anyone who wears the label Evangelical. At least, that would seem to be the case at first blush. However, deeper inspection reveals there is a dark, and frankly, nefarious association between Southern Evangelicalism and racial enmity…racism, if you will.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II recently penned an essay on Evangelicalism that appeared in a number of publications, including this past Sunday’s early edition of the Washington Post. Rev. Dr. Barber is the Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in Goldsboro, NC, a North Carolina political leader, national board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and chair of their Legislative Political Action Committee. He is President of the NAACP’s North Carolina state chapter, the largest in the Southern United States, and the second largest in the country. Since 2007, Rev. Dr. Barber has been leading “Moral Mondays” civil-rights protests, usually in North Carolina’s state capital, Raleigh.

You can get the sense of the thematic tenor of the essay from its title, “The Racist History of Southern White Evangelicalism and the Rise of Donald Trump.” It is natural to want to believe that racism and Evangelicalism or Evangelical Christendom are antithetical. Of course many of the folks who marveled at the verbal stylings of Donald J. Trump on the campaign trail could naturally have thought the same thing about any perceivable relationship between Mr. Trump and Evangelical Christendom. Apparently, if they did, they were wrong.

In the essay, Rev. Dr. Barber points to Franklin Graham’s (son of the Rev. Billy Graham) response to Donald Trump’s victory. As he noted, Graham said:

“Political pundits are stunned. Many thought the Trump/Pence ticket didn’t have a chance. None of them understand the God-factor… While the media scratches their heads and tries to understand how this happened, I believe that God’s hand intervened.”

Barber credited Trump with believing that racism in its most raw and most overt form is anathema. And yet he (Graham) thanks God for the same triumph that white nationalists/Alt-Right members celebrate because he (Graham) is an heir to a religion that accommodated itself to slavery in America, and that has morphed over and again for a century and a half to fuel every backlash against progress toward racial justice in American history.

In its most recent iteration, the squishy foundation and framework of Evangelicalism and its nexus to among other things, bigotry, sexism, and yes, racism runs directly through Donald Trump. In his voluminous tawdry exhortations, and angry tweets and retweets, he has managed to excite and attract an eclectic mix that includes, the KKK, the Alt-Right, and oh yeah, Evangelicals, AKA the Religious Right.

Mr. Trump kicked off his campaign Tuesday June 16, 2015, promising to “Make our country great again.” Fairly quickly he went all in on Mexicans, saying:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Not long after his kickoff Mr. Trump upped the ante by claiming he would build a wall on the Southern Border. I suppose, to put a cherry on top of that, he added, and Mexico will pay for it. Soon to follow, he suggested a ban on Muslims entering the country, and for good measure, added that Mosques should be “monitored.” Keep in mind, all this with a backdrop of Trump unofficially launching his campaign by effectively becoming the voice of the Birther Movement, in which he not only argued that President Obama, the nation’s first Black President, was not born in America…but, also that he was a Muslim.

In Barber’s essay, he posits that God did not intervene in Mr. Trump’s election, but quickly injects, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association did. He noted that Graham spent $10 million in 2016 to promote a backlash against President Obama in God’s name by organizing prayer rallies in all 50 states. In concluding his national tour in North Carolina, Graham, standing on the steps of the state capitol, told thousands assembled that they need to know the true name for those who call themselves progressives: atheists. In essence, Barber added, sadly, Franklin Graham believes that a God who does not bless white America’s fear and nostalgia is no God at all.

For his part, Mr. Trump left a trail of incendiary assertions, allegations, and claims. I have included below a less than exhaustive list of Mr. Trump’s comments, including him saying:

  • Mexicans are thugs and rapists
  • We should ban Muslims
  • “The blacks”
  • “The blacks” are living in hell (as he allegedly attempted to secure black votes)
  • What the hell do you have to lose (also while purportedly seeking black votes)
  • He didn’t mock a disabled journalist…after he did
  • The media and the electoral system are rigged
  • McCain is not a war hero
  • Thousands of Muslims in NJ celebrated 9/11
  • Obama is a Muslim
  • He could walk Down 5th Ave & shoot someone & not lose any votes
  • If he wins he’ll lock Hillary up
  • He will repeal & replace Obamacare…with something terrific
  • He’d be dating his daughter if he wasn’t her father
  • Said not paying taxes made him smart
  • Said he knows more about the military than the generals
  • Said multiple bankruptcies means he knows how to work the system
  • He get his military strategy from TV
  • A judge was unqualified due to his Mexican Heritage (Indiana born)
  • Grab ‘em by the genitals (using a crude term)

In my own foray across the Rubicon that separates me from understanding the religious and ethical basis of the relationship between the Evangelical community and Donald J. Trump, I found one person who gave me his earnest appraisal of why he…and presumably Evangelicals like him, supported Mr. Trump. His answer was pretty basic. He stated that he believed the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is crucial, and that Mr. Trump will appoint Pro-Life jurists to the SCOTUS. He rationalized that Pro-Life trumps (pun intended) everything else. Full stop.

I believe that is his personal bottom line. I also believe that Make America Great Again is a dog whistle, and that the open and enthusiastic support of the KKK/Alt-Right of the GOP Nominee and winner of the election is not just a rarefied, inexplicable coincidence. It was cultivated, it was earned, and it should concern every individual who claims to believe in the principles and tenets embedded in the Bible. Until Evangelicals make a straight forward repudiation of the KKK, the Alt-Right, and the speech and behavior of Donald Trump that inspires their allegiance, I find it difficult, no, make that impossible, to simply permit them to wink and nod and act as though this charade is OK. I will hold them personally responsible for their actions, or lack thereof, in this matter. It is what it is, and I for one will not pretend it’s otherwise. It is…Southern White Evangelicalism and Racism: A Compelling Intersection!”

I’m done; holla back!

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A Time For Thanks Redux ’16

It’s time to Break It Down!

Originally posted on November 24, 2010, and prior to today, subsequently on November 27, 2013, November 26, 2014and November 25, 2015.

As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules (in some cases impeded by weather events this year), meal planning, family time, shopping, football, parades, and if there is any time remaining, relaxation, will dominate this week. However, it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog and it will definitely be brief.

Those among us who have perfected humility, and ascended to a genuine Nirvana state, have no doubt also elevated giving thanks to an art form. The rest of us must fully invest our appreciation in the notion, “That’s why we have Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, which kicks off what we commonly refer to as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Yet, there is so much more than that to the Season.

Over the next 54 days, many of us will enjoy succulent feasting at Thanksgiving, exchange gifts and contribute to the needy during Hanukkah. We will buy, give, exchange, and/or receive gifts at Christmas, eat, drink, and celebrate the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, and party and toast the dawn of 2017 on New Year’s Day. We will honor the life and works of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough (though improving) economic times, this weekend, millions of Americans will pay (literally) homage to our most celebrated of shoppers’ holiday weekends, Black FridaySmall Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, by rising early, and proceeding to scour the aisles for those perfect gifts…and if not perfect, at least cheap, relatively speaking. There are even some precociously enterprising businesses that will start the shopping clock Thursday. Sigh!

In past years, I have recounted my reasons for being thankful. This year I find that I have more reasons than ever to sit contemplatively in humble repose, and affirm boldly, that I know, without caveat, not only the goodness, no the greatness of God, but also of his inestimable and inexhaustible beneficence. I thank Him for deliverance, and for imbuing me with the sense and sensibility to discern the distinction between kairos and chronos, Greek concepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively.

Eons ago, when I was a college student, I pledged a fraternity. It is familiarly known as the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest, but I digress. The point of this reference is that during the erstwhile pledge process, as prospective initiates, we were required to learn a number of poems. There were many, each selected to convey a specific life lesson. Many of them have stayed with me, but none more than Invictus, written by English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). The Latin translation for Invictus is Undefeated. You may recall it, but just in case, see it below:

Invictus (Latin for Undefeated) By William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

So, as you go about your way tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow, recognize that Thanksgiving, at its core, is not simply a day on the calendar. It is a spirit that dwells within each us, an impulse that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and for the graciousness to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, everyday is “A Time for Giving Thanks Redux ’16!”

I’m done; holla back!

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What’s Next? I Can Only Tell You What’s Not!

It’s time to Break It Down!

So as we wind down week one in a post Donald Trump election world, an interesting phenomenon has emerged. A host of Trump surrogates and supporters have come forward in a fairly haughty way to dismissively ask what is the abundance of anti-Trump vitriol all about, and why don’t folks just get over themselves and their petty opposition to Donald Trump? After all he did win; now he has a mandate to “Make This Country Great Again.”

President Obama and Hillary Clinton have both urged America the collective to move ahead and help facilitate the peaceful transition of power, which is after all, what we do here in these United States. The President and Mrs. Clinton are in a very real way obliged to do just that.  I respect their appeal.

Obama really must do this because George W. Bush did the same for him, and also because the forty-two Presidents who preceded President Bush artfully handed the baton to their successors as well. As for Mrs. Clinton, if her decades of public service have trained her to do anything, it is, as Kipling said in verse two of his well-know poem, “If”:

“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;”

As a Governor’s wife, as America’s First Lady, as the Junior Senator from New York, and as the Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton, indeed, has earned her share of kudos, and met with more Triumph than most. Alas, as one of the final two candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s Nomination in 2008, and as the Party Nominee in 2016, she has engendered Disaster on a level the vast majority of Americans will never know.

In 2008 she gave a gracious concession speech and subsequently worked with fervor to help Barack Obama secure victory in the race for the Presidency. She then joined the Obama Administration and served as Secretary of State during his first term in office. She has established, I think, that she has the wherewithal to win, and to lose, and still maintain a laser-like focus on perfecting our Union. So as we transition, be it smoothly, or more likely fitfully, into a Trump Administration, in the grand scheme of things, we will do it peacefully.

But hold on. I’m not Barack Obama, and I’m certainly not a 69-year-old white woman. So before we rush to embrace the suggestion that we just get over ourselves, at least before I do, let me be crystal clear, I reserve the right to vent. No, it is not my aim or intent to riot and create mayhem. I repeat, it’s not my aim or intent.

Americans of all stripes have an opinion about our President. And they should. President Obama has led our nation for 8 years, through tough times, and even though some refuse to admit it, through increasingly better times. Since 2009 we have transitioned from a Great Recession economy to:

  • An economy that hemorrhaged 800,000 jobs per month to an economic engine that has added private sector jobs for 73 consecutive months
  • An economy that has added over 15 million jobs
  • An economy that fostered the best over all jobs growth in 18 years
  • An economy that saw unemployment cut in half (from 9.8% in October 2010 to 4.9% in October 2016)
  • An economy in which his policies saved the American auto industry
  • An economy that was bolstered by his policies that reformed the banking system
  • An economy in which his policies led to the rebound of the housing sector
  • An economy that saw the strongest dollar in three decades
  • An economy that cut the Bush era deficit by two-thirds, over a $trillion
  • An economy that saw the Dow rise from a tepid 7,949 in January 2009 to record levels of over 18,000, reaching 18,923 yesterday

In addition to all things economy, POTUS pushed through the historic Affordable Care Act which transported 20 million Americans from the desert of no health insurance to the Promised Land of Health Care that eliminated pre-existing conditions clauses, keeping children under age 26 on their parents policy, preventing discriminatory higher costs for women, adding an annual free wellness visit, and introducing a feature to hold insurers accountable for premium increases of 10% or more. In the arena of foreign policy, he wound down and or decreased America’s level of participation in multiple wars, resumed formal relations with Cuba, and negotiated a historical accord with Iran that diminished their nuclear arsenal, and reduced their capacity to produce a nuclear warhead. Thank you President Obama.

It is my belief that those accomplishments, which are by no means part of an exhaustive list, ensure that Mr. Obama will be viewed among the list of most substantial Presidents. Here is where I must note; his legacy would be greatly expanded were it not for a concerted pact among Republicans to obstruct every initiative he proposed. But the disrespect did not end there, as if that were not enough.

In and out of the halls of government, President Obama, who won the Presidency twice, clenching both the popular vote and the Electoral College by the way, was called a lie by Congressman Joe Wilson, of South Carolina, as he spoke to a joint session of Congress, he had his citizenship questioned by the Birther Movement, which was for all practical purposes led by Donald Trump, and he and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, were routinely mocked and called names by normal citizens, and government officials. He was called a Muslim, which in and of itself should not be a problem, and a Socialist, despite his Democratic Party affiliation, among a host of other things, the vast majority of which were distinctly unflattering.

Just recently, a West Virginia public official and a Town Mayor were involved in trading Facebook comments in which one referred to Mrs. Obama as an “Ape in heels,” while the other co-signed. And this does not stop with little known individuals of whom you have never heard. Trump pretty much single-handedly kept the Birther Movement going long after it was widely accepted that the effort was a bogus initiative, designed to delegitimize the President. That makes it all the more noteworthy that Donald Trump did not concede President Obama was born in America until two months ago, September 16, 2016.

It is in that context I reflect upon the calls to move forward, to get over it, to accept the outcome of an election in which the Trump said in advance, he would accept the outcome…if he won, and who claimed before voting began in most places that the election was rigged, the media was biased for his opponent, and that cheaters were trying to steal the election (from him).

So allow me to summarize quickly. Republicans spent eight years disrespecting, demonizing, trying to delegitimize, and obstruct President Obama. I believe one conservative radio personality’s comment as President Obama began his first term was, “I hope he fails.” The Senate Majority Leader declared his top priority was to make President Obama a one term President. But now I’m told we should “Come together to support our President Trump…because his success is our success.” Really? It’s been 8 days for Mr. Trump, and after 8 years President Obama continues to be targeted by obstruction, verbal assaults, and other insults. Puhleeze! Let me coin a new term. This is the epitome of “hyper-hypocrisy.”

I have felt for some time, unlike many of my friends, that I’m glad President Obama and the First Lady are seeing their tenure in the people’s White House come to an end. I do not wish for even a moment that he could serve a 3rd term. America the exceptional has not earned the moniker when it comes to its treatment of our President, which has been despicable. I do not want the “Hatriots” to have the opportunity to engage in such reindeer games for even one more moment. What’s Next? I Can Only Tell You What’s Not!” Appeasement.

I’m done; holla back!

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Election 2016: It’s Trump

It’s time to Break It Down!

I suppose the good news is “We The People” have spoken, and Donald Trump will accept the results!

I spent yesterday completing a 500-mile round trip commute to my hometown to attend the funeral of a relative. As is typically the case with funerals, they tend to be sad occasions that also provide an opportunity to catch up with surviving relatives, as well as old friends. Yesterday it also created a diversion (for me). Having voted early, as I have every year since the practice became an option, I was not conflicted about abandoning my franchise, so I was able to spend the day in support of family, which should always be a priority anyway.

While it made for a 12-hour day, most of it, nearly nine hours, spent driving, I still retuned home by around the time polls closed in North Carolina, and in a number of other states. In last week’s post I noted that the race could run late into the night, but that if it did, it would be an indication that a number of things had gone much poorly, relative to what Democrats anticipated.

Well, at 1:00 a.m. Eastern, not only was the Race still unfolding, there were strong indications Donald Trump would actually win the Presidency. CNN showed Trump with a 29 point Electoral Map edge, 238-209, while Fox News showed Trump ahead with a 45-point advantage, 254-218. At around 2:40 a.m., though the race had not been called officially, Mrs. Clinton call Mr. Trump and conceded the race. Remember, 270 Electoral Votes are required to claim the Presidency.  With Trump leading in several of the remaining States…it was over!

To briefly revisit an admonition I made early on, I believed, based upon his having pulverized 16 Republican opponents, that he could very well best Hillary Clinton. Mind you, that was not to say he would. Rather it was to advise all to guard against taking the  opponent lightly. That is precisely what I believe too many Democrats did.

While the lead is unquestionably Trump wins, let’s be clear there is more to this than just that. One CNN analyst, Van Jones, called it a whitelash. I do believe that is a part of it, but not all by any stretch. Mr. Trump garnered more votes, from Millennials, more votes from Hispanics, and more votes from women than pollsters projected he would. In his best populist verbal meme, he maintained that he would be the human equivalent to BREXIT. And so he was.

Quickly, let’s consider briefly what’s in store for the soon to be “Great Again America.” Candidate Trump promised, among other things, the following:

  • Repeal and Replace Obamacare
  • Restore a Conservative Supreme Court
  • Build a Wall on the Southern Border
  • Make Mexico Pay for the Wall Along the Southern Border
  • Enact a Muslim Ban
  • Eliminate Common Core…and Possibly the Department of Education
  • Defund Planned Parenthood
  • Bar Syrian Refugees
  • Make (the Strongest) Military (in the History of the World) Stronger
  • Throw Hillary Clinton in Jail

That’s 10 out of dozens of things Mr. Trump promised to do. I presume they represent, at least in part, a pathway to renewed greatness.   We will see.

Meanwhile, ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump…”Election 2016: It’s Trump!”

I’m done; holla back!

For President: Vote Hillary Clinton

It’s time to Break It Down!

According to the official Election 2016 Clock, only six days remain before D-Day, or as it were, E-Day. By the time I release my next post, the polls will have closed in most states, with the possible exceptions of Alaska and Hawaii. There is a better than reasonable chance that results from enough states will have been tallied to determine the next President. If not, that would be a sign we are probably in a down to the wire nail biter of an election.

This marks the third Presidential Election during the nine years I’ve done the blog. In the previous two instances, Obama-McCain in 2008, then Obama-Romney in 2012, I opted not to make a formal endorsement. Over the years, Presidential Elections are often framed by caustic and rambunctious exchanges…between the candidates, their surrogates, and certainly their supporters. I am sure I don’t have to tell you this year has featured all of the above.

In the midst of the hoopla that is a Presidential Campaign it is not uncommon to hear principals and others characterize “This Election” as the most important in our lifetimes. I am not sure if I have ever felt that way before. The election and re-election of Barack Obama, our nation’s first African American President, were critical development in the history of governance in our country. Likewise, if Hillary Clinton were to become the first woman elected President; that too would be of similar critical notoriety.

This year, however, for reasons well beyond symbolism, racial barriers, and glass ceilings, I am fully persuaded that “This Election” is the most important in my lifetime. Yes, so important that I am compelled to endorse a candidate. If you noticed the title, it is apparent that there is no suspense in my choice. And that is fine. In my view there is little to compare the two leading candidates. If you listen to the candidates themselves, they have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to disqualify each other. The thing is, from my vantage point, one candidate is eminently qualified, while the other is utterly unqualifiable.

America 2016 is separated by a huge and deep ideological chasm. In addition to the uncivil political war waged daily from each side of the aforementioned divide, the two candidates have between them the highest negatives in the history of tracking Presidential candidate popularity, or as is the case in this instance, the lack thereof.

Mrs. Clinton has had a host of detractors since her days as First Lady…of the State of Arkansas. As her profile elevated, so did the pushback, much of it partisan. She left Little Rock for Washington when her husband was elected President, and she became a very nontraditional First Lady of our country. She led the charge on behalf of the Administration for Healthcare Reform, in a losing effort. Also during her husband’s tenure, he proposed, and she supported a crime bill that passed through Congress and is to this day blamed for the spike in America’s prison population that makes us the largest incarceration machine in the world. But, among all her issues, in Arkansas, and later in Washington, perhaps the one that raises the most hackles is the assertion that she bullied a number of women who accused her husband of having engaged them in various sexual entanglements. She then went on to become the Junior Senator from New York, and after that, U.S. Secretary of State. The record reflects that her approval rating soared during her time in both posts.

Near the end of her service as Secretary, she was ensnared in controversy, stemming from an attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi September 11, 2012. Then in March 2015, the now infamous email scandal emerged, based loosely on Clinton having used a personal email server while in her capacity as Secretary of State, and possible having communicated confidential information. While Mrs. Clinton was questioned during multiple Congressional hearings on both matters, as well as by the FBI on the email scandal, she was not found to have committed any crime.

Donald Trump spent many years, primarily known as business titan. Along with co-author Tony Schwartz he wrote a biography entitled the Art of the Deal in 1987. But Trump, partnering with his developer father, Fred, had already gained a measure of notoriety. In 1973, the Nixon Justice Department sued the Trumps for racial discrimination because they would not rent apartments to African Americans. At the time, the 27-year-old Trump presided over Fred Trump’s realty company, Trump Management. The suit, against Trump, his dad, and their company alleged that the Trumps violated the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The case was settled and Trump never admitted guilt, although, Trump Management had to sign an agreement, which included stipulations intended to prevent future discrimination at their properties.

In 1989 Trump took out a full-page ad in the Daily News that included the headline, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” This was in relation to a case familiarly known as The Central Park 5. Five black and Hispanic teens were accused of raping a Central Park jogger. Trump, convinced of their guilt, wanted them to face the Death Penalty. Subsequently another individual confessed to the crime, and his DNA corroborated his guilt. The City went on to grant the 5 innocent defendants a $41 million dollar settlement. Trump was livid, and argued that the teens had confessed, even though they insisted during trial that their confessions were coerced. Of course, that should have been irrelevant, given the subsequent confession and DNA evidence. But, apparently, Trump was being Trump!

In 2011 Donald Trump contemplated running for President. In February of that year when speaking to a conservative conference, he said:

“Our current President came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I’ll go a step further: the people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”

He continued with these debunked assertions until September of this year, 15 months into his Presidential Campaign.  He made numerous factually discredited statement about the subject, including the four below:

March 28, 2011, on Fox News

“He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me — and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that where it says ‘religion,’ it might have ‘Muslim.’ And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way.”

May 29, 2012, to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer

“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”

August 2013, to ABC News

“How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today. All others lived.”

December 12, 2013, in tweet about the death of Loretta Fuddy.

“Well, I don’t know — did he do it? … Well, a lot of people don’t agree with you and a lot of people feel it wasn’t a proper certificate.”

January 6, 2016, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“I’ll answer that question at the right time. I just don’t want to answer it yet … I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”

Finally, Mr. Trump decided to drop the charade. Friday, September 16, Mr. Trump, during a press conference at his Washington Hotel, uttered this tersely worded statement on the subject:

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States. “Period.”

Only hubris could make anyone think that after a five year campaign arguing that President Obama was not “Made in America,” the conversation would be ended by a 10-word statement.  As they say, “Hope springs in the human breast.”

Those are just a few of the highlights. During this campaign, Mr. Trump has left a trail of comments, most of which would be considered outrageous, untrue, or straight up ridiculous, had anyone else had the temerity to submit them in any public discourse, to say nothing of a Presidential campaign. I have included below a non-exhaustive list Mr. Trump’s comments including him saying:

  • Mexicans are thugs and rapists
  • We should ban Muslims
  • The blacks
  • The blacks are living in hell
  • What the hell do you have to lose (purportedly seeking black votes)
  • He didn’t mocked a disabled journalist…after he did
  • The media and the electoral system are rigged
  • McCain is not a war hero
  • Thousands of Muslims in NJ celebrated 9/11
  • Obama is a Muslim
  • He could walk Down 5th Ave & shoot someone & not lose votes
  • If he wins he’ll lock Hillary up
  • He will repeal & replace Obamacare…with something terrific
  • He be dating his daughter if he wasn’t her father
  • Said not paying taxes made him smart
  • Said he knows more about the military than the generals
  • Said multiple bankruptcies means he knows how to work the system
  • He get his military strategy from TV
  • A judge was unqualified due to his Mexican Heritage (Indiana born)
  • Grab ‘em by the genitals (using a crude term)

There is more, so much more. But that’s enough to make the point (I certainly hope). I’ve heard a lot of folks say the candidates are so bad, or I wish we had better choices. I think I will just write-in someone, or maybe I’ll stay home and not vote. Do not do either of those things. The idea that both of these candidates are bad, and for all practical purposes, equally so, is just plain wrong. The premise itself is an assertion of a false equivalence. This is a dangerous moment in time.

Whether one calls it discouragement or straight up suppression, if you might vote for Hillary, Mr. Trump and the GOP want you to stay home. That is how they win. The reality is it’s the only way they can win. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they cannot win, or even that it’s improbable. Rather, I’m saying if Democrats and left leaning Independents vote, Hillary wins. Democrats know that, Republicans know that, Independents know that, even Assange and Putin know that.

The GOP currently employs what I call Political Dred Scott Syndrome. They believe Democrats have no policy designs Republicans are bound to respect. They endlessly prosecuted Bill Clinton, they obstructed President Obama from day 1, and they are now desperately trying to suppress and depress the vote in order to deny Hillary’s path to the White House. The fact is, we long ago reached a point at which the GOP Mantra is no Democrat is worthy of the Presidency, and no amount of success, experience, or skillful rigor will change that…in their minds. This is painfully clear when one considers the GOP is now rallying around its Nominee, whom incidentally, has zero experience in managing or operating governmental enterprises at any level. Add the non-existent experience to his propensity to wing it, to lose focus, and to denigrate anyone and/or any institution that does not kowtow to him. That he is a mere six days away from possibly being catapulted into the leadership of the most powerful nation the world has ever known should give each and every one of us pause.

Democrats  and reasoning Independents must exhibit steely resolve and exercise their franchise, lest we be saddled with a President that even a large segment of his own Party admits is politically, morally, ethically, and temperamentally beneath the office. So, Raise Up Obama Coalition, let’s do this. Vote. Vote Early! “For President: Vote Hillary Clinton!”

I’m done; holla back!

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