Over the years, a lot of people have expressed frustration with the emphasis in my writing on black interests. This piece is a gateway to understanding why I see the fate of the black community as the lodestone for the American Dream.
The problem is that Nixon’s Southern Strategy mostly flopped. By some measures he was less successful in the South than Goldwater had been and the Republicans made few inroads there farther down the ticket. The flight of the Dixiecrats didn’t materialize in serious numbers at the local level until the late ’80’s. Something else was at work here to turn the South red.
Very few African-Americans voted for Donald Trump. However, almost 2 million black voters who supported Obama in 2012 sat out this election. Their non-vote in places like Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee tipped this race toward an American electoral apocalypse. Atlas Shrugged. Minority voters will not continue to carry the burden of keeping this country sane so that affluent white suburbanites can continue their blissful complacency. As Taylor explained of his vote for Trump, “This system will clean itself, or something else will happen.”
Poles of partisan alignment have been scrambled by a rare event, something unprecedented in our history. One of those three parties just completed a decades-long shift in its affiliation and it will take time for our system to establish a new equilibrium. This journey toward a redefinition of political parties has no certain endpoint, no roadmap, and no promise of a happy ending.
The rising power and influence of corporations is not a happy development. However, in a climate dominated by an increasingly unstable US regime, it is a comfort to know that there is an alternative power center available. A corporate ID offers at least some protections against abuse by police and immigration officers in the ‘land of the free.’
Scour the scriptures. Read them backward and forward, upside down and sideways. You will not find one prohibition on abortion, a practice as old as civilization, maybe older. Meanwhile, you can drop a Bible open to a random page and likely find a scathing passage condemning those who turn away refugees, strangers, the poor, the needy. Jesus was pretty explicit about the kind of matters that defined good and evil. Almost nothing in the present-day Republican Platform falls on Jesus’ good side.
In a move that channels the philosophy and tactics of the civil rights era, John Lewis this week openly denied the legitimacy of the incoming administration and refused to participate in the inauguration ceremonies. His stand is more than symbolic. Lewis is cutting through the subtleties and evasions, initiating a critical moral division likely to define and harden the fight against the Trump administration.
Thanks to generations of progress in civil rights, race, and more specifically “whiteness,” is failing. Being white is losing its meaning, its privileges, its social and even religious significance. As it fades, it has weakened a load-bearing wall in our democracy. Our goal of transcending race, encoded as a distant aspiration in our founding documents, threatens to undermine the “classless” assumptions that make the rest of our system work. Stripped of race as a reference point, and of whiteness as a marker of special privilege, we are left to cope with class as our main expression of identity.