The Arrogance of White Supremacy

Today, presumptive GOP nominee for president Donald Trump released a list of potential people he would nominate to the United States Supreme Court.

And I seethed.

I seethed because he released the list in the face of President Obama, whose nominee for the High Court, Judge Merrick Garland, is being completely ignored by the Republican-led Senate.

Trump’s list is full of people who are, by media accounts, “extremely Conservative.” They are primarily white men. They are young. They will work to keep white supremacy alive.

Democrats are powerless to do anything against the obstruction put in place and supported by Sen. Mitch McConnell and the others. In a Politico article, Seung Min Kim wrote that there were nine Senate Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee listening to witnesses “shower praise” on Judge Garland …but the GOP side of the dais …was completely empty.

The GOP has been touting that it is aghast at the violation of the Constitution; they have professed that they believe in law and order, except, it seems, when following the law and maintaining order applies to this president.

“Let the people decide who the next Supreme Court justice will be,” they say, calling Mr. Obama a “lame duck president,” when, in fact, that is not true. Their actions are clear and simply obstructionism based on racial politics. And it is sickening.

This latest action by Mr. Trump, the “chief bully” of this nation, underscores the fact that the core of this nation seems to be filled with rot. Mr. Trump is sickening, with his name-calling and bullying of anyone who disagrees with him, but it is the support of the white American electorate which is more disturbing. Filled with resentment and reeling from an economic downturn that has blown them out of lives that have been at least comfortable, the American electorate wants things to be the way they used to be when there were enough jobs in this nation to allow a fair number of people to live decent lives. They were a part of the middle class. Never mind that many of the privileges they had were denied to black and brown people. What they know is that their lives were comfortable and now they are not.

They believe Donald Trump when he says he will bring jobs back to America. They rejoice at the thought that a wall will be built to keep Mexicans out of the nation, people, they will say disingenuously, who are taking their jobs.

They are doing no such thing. They are doing the work that few if any American would be willing to do, at wages that are inhumanely low. There are stories circulating where immigrants, some legal and some not, are hired out, who do the work, and then are sent away or threatened with being deported without being paid.

Business people want profits, and they want it with as little outlay of their own money as possible. Donald Trump is not going to be able to change things so that the way things “were” will be “again.” Yesterday’s economy is not coming back.

But the American electorate is so desperate for jobs, and so subliminally racist, that they cannot see the forest for the trees. Mr. Trump is acting like an arrogant, spoiled rich fraternity kid and the public is loving it. They are all trying to “be his friend,” like kids tried to cosy up to bullies when I was in school. They must know that Mr. Trump does not care about them and their lives, that Mr. Trump only wants to satisfy Mr. Trump. And what will satisfy Mr. Trump is to win the presidency and be the most powerful man in the world.

They don’t care that he doesn’t have a foreign policy or an economic plan for this nation that will bring “liberty and justice for all.”

Oh, wait. They don’t want liberty and justice for all. They want liberty and justice …and white privilege…as they have always had it. And Mr. Trump knows that and is feeding their souls.

Sad. But true.

A candid observation…

 

 

Donald Trump’s Whining Shows his Ignorance

The system of electing a president has been the same …since the days the Founding Fathers set up the system.

So, why is Donald Trump complaining that the system isn’t fair?

It might be unfair, true, but it is the system and it has been in place …forever.

Donald is crying and whining that the system is rigged against him. But it isn’t.

The Founding Fathers made it so that presidents are ultimately chosen by the Electoral College. Whoever gets the most electoral votes is the winner.

It’s a winner-take-all system. So, the trick is to win as much of the popular vote as possible. That way, even if you get just a hair’s breath majority of the popular vote, you get all of the electoral votes of any given state.

Each state gets as many electors as it has congresspersons and senators. Larger states have more electors.

I suppose this is a democratic way of voting. It doesn’t feel like “one man, one vote” is the reality here.  Democracy as I understand it goes out of the window when it comes to the ways America has worked to suppress the votes of many, especially African-Americans. Gerrymandering seems to me to be dishonorable; it keeps “the establishment” in power, and it works against the people and their needs and demands.

The money it takes to get elected to the White House is, well, unforgivable. In 2012, the presidential election cost $2 billion. Some believe that this year’s election will cost up to $5 billion. (http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/historic-price-cost-presidential-elections)

How many schools could we build for that amount of money? How many contaminated water pipes in Flint could be replaced? How many services for people in need could be funded by that kind of money?

The system is crazy. It feels unfair. It feels like people’s votes are negated. It leaves a lot of room for the votes of some to be suppressed, and has led to that in years past and even today. A black man in Wisconsin took three forms of ID to the polls in Wisconsin last week and still couldn’t vote. (https://m.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/4engrl/a_black_man_brought_3_forms_of_id_to_the_polls_in/)

It feels like the system is rigged …but it is the system, put in place long before Donald Trump was even thought about. We learned it in civics class in high school, or at least I did. I wonder if Donald missed those lessons.

Sorry, Donald. It’s not about you.

A candid observation…

 

 

Punishing Women for Abortion: Wrong

OK. Enough.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for the office of president of the United States, has stepped over a line.

In the Bible, there is a very familiar story about a woman who has been “caught in the act of adultery.” She is being taken to task for her indiscretion. The scribes and the Pharisees bring her to Jesus, and say, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say? The next sentence says they “said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him.”

That scripture always got to me because only the woman was called to task. Presumably, if or since she was “caught in the very act” of adultery, there was someone with whom she was committing adultery with. Where were the men?

Jesus proceeds to bend down and begin writing in the sand, and in my exegetical imagination, I have always seen him writing the names of men who might have also committed adultery with her – or with someone else. Nobody was beyond fault. As he writes the names, the scriptures say that they “went away, one by one.” Finally, only the woman was left, but she received no judgement from Jesus. He tells her to go and not to “sin” again.

When Donald Trump said today that women who get abortions should be punished, I thought of that scripture. The suggestion is outrageous, it is draconian, it is unjust …and it is sexist.

If women become pregnant by men – which they do – and a pregnant woman seeking abortion should be punished, then so should the man who impregnated her.

There is no more immaculate conception. Men are complicit, to say the least, in the condition called pregnancy.

Trump’s statement shows his bigotry toward women. If his antics to date have not been enough, then this suggestion ought to open the eyes of those who have been wooed and seduced by his “telling it like it is.” This man is a buffoon. He hasn’t given clear policies on much of anything, and he claims not to be a “politician,” but now, as the fire heats up and his statements about women are being showcased in negative ads about him, he is being the preeminent politician by saying things that he believes Conservative, religious women want to hear.

I wonder if he’s thought it through. I wonder if he understands that women who have abortions includes wealthy white women who are no strangers to abortion procedures. Is he advocating that they be punished too?

And I wonder if he has the chutzpah to talk about how men who believe in impregnating women and then leaving them to fend for themselves ought to be punished as well. Or if he believes that husbands of wives who decide they want an abortion should be punished, too?

Is this as sexist as it sounds?

This stance of Trump’s is pure reality TV. It is an act of manipulation to get those who are fascinated with him drawn in even deeper. His supporters are not thinking. They are tired and angry and just want things to change – and Trump is taking advantage of that fact.

But to stoop this low is bad, even for Trump. His bullying has been bad. His changing his story on issues has been bad. His inability and unwillingness to admit wrong, when he’s been wrong, and to apologize for even the appearance of impropriety …has been wrong. His xenophobia has been wrong. His lack of knowledge about what is going on in the world has been wrong. His desire to deport millions of Muslims has been wrong. His statement that he’s going to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it …has been wrong and ridiculous.

But to suggest that women who go through the pain and anguish of abortion is inhumane. His statement will give people an excuse to use their guns to shoot women seeking abortions; they don’t need much of an excuse. Such an action, were it actualized, would mean, most probably, that it would be poor, black and brown women who would be the primary victims, because rich, white women have always had ways to get around the system. Just as the War on Drugs was developed to criminalize the drug use of black people, (http://www.vox.com/2016/3/22/11278760/war-on-drugs-racism-nixon) this action would criminalize predominantly women of color, almost certainly.

Nixon got away with declaring his war on black people by declaring the War on Drugs. That action caused non-violent drug users to be criminalized. It caused their families to be destroyed. It affected their children. It ruined their lives …while white people using far more damaging drugs got away with it. There is a gathering at the United Nations in April of multi-faith leaders to protest and to encourage the replacement of draconian, punitive drug laws globally with drug policies which emphasize compassion, care and the health of those who use drugs. (http://www.unodc.org/ungass2016/) I would hate for women who seek abortions to be criminalized and marginalized even further than they are already, just as we work hard to get out of the destructive pit caused by the War on Drugs.

Enough.

Such an asinine and inhumane as this one suggested by Trump ought not be allowed past the front door out of which it has stepped.

A candid observation …

 

Obama the Most Divisive Ever

Sometimes, I get confused.

I think I understand something and then someone says something that makes me …confused.

I have listened with interest …and confusion …to people who say that President Barack Obama has been the most divisive president in modern history. They are talking about issues including race, and say that he has divided the country along racial and economic lines. (http://theweek.com/articles/599246/republicans-say-obama-been-historically-divisive-thats-revealing).

Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl) said continuously during his campaign that Obama was the most polarizing president in history, and a recent article in Newsmax concurred. (http://www.newsmax.com/Politics/Barack-Obama-Gallup-polarizing-president/2015/02/06/id/623299/).

The country  certainly is divided, but is it because of President Obama? Can it be said that those who vowed to oppose him on anything and everything he proposed to do have something to do with where we are today?

Certainly, the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) made people furious. While millions of people now have health insurance who did not have access to it before, those who opposed it when it was on its way to becoming law still oppose it, and if a Republican wins the White House, the GOP still plans to repeal it.

The fight over the president’s landmark legislation did, in fact, pit people against each other.

But how else has Mr. Obama’s presidency divided the country? He has done some really good things, like, for example, pulling the country out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. He has said he didn’t know how bad things were, how the issues of Wall Street were spreading to Main Street, until he took office …but he worked on the economy and saved the country from a total economic meltdown. A lot of people were negatively impacted, and many are still trying to recover, but the president took the problem on and did the best he could do.

He wanted to be a president who worked across the aisle, but even before his inauguration was over, there were Republicans meeting to make sure that he would do no such thing; they wanted to make sure he was a “one term president” and they worked on a plan on how to best obstruct any and everything he tried to do.

I hear the subtle and often unspoken charges levied against him that he made the racial divide in this country worse, but that simply is not true. Obama has stayed away from “things racial” for the most part. America’s bubbling and diseased underbelly simply began to erupt to the surface as angry white people could no longer hold their resentment about a black man being in the White House.

The fact that the country is not so lily-white anymore, and that there are fewer jobs now for the masses than there were before is not, again, Obama’s fault. There are factors that “the angry” don’t really deal with, like who it was that voted in trade agreements that have resulted in the United States losing manufacturing jobs. “The angry” don’t seem to remember when “outsourcing” was going on like crazy, resulting in America losing its source of employment for so many people, especially white men.

Obama has supported trade agreements, as has Secretary Clinton, but he didn’t initiate them, right?  He might have supported NAFTA, and he does in fact support the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), but has his support of those trade agreements been the reason America is so divided?

How about this: America has always been a divided nation. Romantic Constitutional rhetoric aside, America has always pitted the “haves” against the “have-nots,” and has not made it easy for the class differences it created to be overcome. Obama has had to deal with the normal antics of oppositional politics compounded by a Republican resolve to make him a “one term president.” (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/sorry-marco-rubio-obama-isnt-as-divisive-as-bush-lincoln-or-clinton/257483/) He has had his hands full, to say the least. America, in spite of its claim to be a democracy, is in fact an oligarchy and that system by definition divides people.

This is not to say that Obama should be pitied. He has found a way to get things done in spite of the cantankerous Congress with which he has had to work in a way that has made people spit-fire mad, but it feels like he did what he had to do because it was clear Congress was not going to take its foot off of his neck. He was elected to do some things and he worked hard to do just that.

He failed in unifying the nation, but really, who can? Donald Trump says he can do it, and all one can say to that claim is, “hardly.” Trump is dangerously divisive and everyone except his blind followers knows it.

In the end, all presidents cause some division because no president can please all of the people, but as I read it, Obama is no worse and no more divisive than some of the other presidents who have graced the White House. He has endured his time in office in spite of an openly and unreasonably stubborn Congress, and it feels like most of their opposition has been seeded in America’s garden of racism.

Nobody would ever openly admit that, though, just like few people are willing to admit that much of what Trump is doing is feeding that same garden, seeding it with pent-up resentment and anger. Trump’s divisiveness could throw this country into a downward spiral from which it might never recover.

It’s something to think about …and it is certainly a candid observation.

 

 

Why a Crazy Faith Can Beat Trump

It is the day after “Super Tuesday” and Donald Trump has come out victorious, as he promised he would.

Many people who laughed at his candidacy, saying he couldn’t win, are worried. The GOP, it seems, is worried. Trump has said all along that he will win. He has drummed those words into the minds, hearts and souls of people in his base who are angry and who feel marginalized. He has made them believe that they can and will win, no matter what the naysayers say, or who they are.

He has replaced their despondency with hope. And hope wins, every time.

It was hope in “change we can believe in” that pushed President Barack Obama into the White House. Back then, the biggest change we were being asked to believe in was that a racist white nation could elect a black man to the presidency. We believed, and we won. Not even racism was an effective weapon against genuine hope, filled with something called “crazy faith,” a faith that says the impossible …is not impossible. at all.

In my book, Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives, I share one of my most favorite stories in the Bible: that of Moses holding, really, a “stick” (the Bible calls it a rod) over the Sea of Reeds, expecting the water to part. God knows the people whom he was leading through, out of, the wilderness, thought he was crazy. They looked at what seemed impossible, and most probably chided Moses for being so stupid.

But Moses held on, and, I imagine, in Trump fashion, kept saying to the naysayers, “the waters will part.” We don’t know how long he stood there. We don’t know how much of a beating he took from “rational” friends who most probably put him down. But we do know that according to the story, the Sea of Reeds did part. The waters parted, the ground on which the Israelites were to walk was dry (where water had been only moments before) and the Israelites got through to the other side. The waters came back together in time to drown the Egyptians, who were after them, to kill them.

Crazy faith got the Israelites through the Sea of Reeds.

I would imagine that Moses had to keep on saying to himself, and then to them, in Trump fashion, “We can do this! We can win. We can beat even this body of water that is here to keep us from moving forward to liberation.” Moses had to make himself believe it so that he could make the Israelites believe it.

Donald Trump is saying to people who believe they have been ignored that they can turn the tide, that they can win, that they can “make America great again.”

What non-Trump supporters have to do is get their message straight, believe it to their cores, and keep on saying it until people believe it.

Donald Trump is not God.

Donald Trump is a very smart man, who knows how to manipulate people and the media for his own good. He does in fact know how to broker a deal.

But he is not God. His power is not absolute. People who do not want him to be president have to adopt a message, keep it, internalize it, believe it, and, with crazy faith in place to keep their hope alive, participate in this system of government which at least hypothetically leaves room for the voices of people to be heard.

At this point, on the non-Trump side, this is a crazy faith battle. There is no time to sit and call Trump names or put him down. That is counter-productive anyway. It is time to get strategic, and to get a mantra in place that will woo doubters to the edge of the Sea of Reeds, believing that the water will part.

Crazy faith is always accompanied by an action, and this is critical. Those who are willing to believe that Donald Trump is not God must be willing to participate in the process to get through the Sea. People will have to work, have to register people, have to make sure people get to the polls. Sitting back is not an option. Moses held the “stick” over the water, but people in the wilderness, confused and afraid, had to decide to participate in the crossing over or there would have been no miracle.

There is no time to be afraid, despondent or discouraged.

Donald Trump has launched a perfect time for the exercise of crazy faith. It is by and through crazy faith, and not by sophisticated political discourse and debate, that Donald Trump can be stopped.

Donald Trump is not God. A faith that defies hopelessness is greater than any obstacle er face.

The power to beat him is in the people, a people filled with fire and this thing called crazy faith. It is that faith which gives us our power.

A candid observation …

 

(Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is the founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, and is available to speak on this topic and topics related to the intersection of politics and religion. See the website, http://www.crazyfaithministries.org for information)

And crazy faith