In 1953, the Supreme Court ruled that ‘separate wasn’t equal,’ and that Blacks were second-class citizens, notwithstanding the 13th Amendment passed in 1865. Two years later, a seamstress working in a department store in Montgomery, AL named Rosa Parks, refused a driver’s order to sit in the back of the bus, and the modern, civil rights campaign began. The campaign culminated in August, 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech before more than a quarter of a million gathered in Washington, D.C.
Two years later, thanks to the arm-twisting by a Southern liberal named Lyndon Johnson, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were passed. Three years later, Richard Nixon promised political leaders from the Confederate states that he would ‘go slow’ on enforcing federal civil rights laws, a clever strategy that completely remade the political alignment of the United States.
What used to be the ‘solid South’ for Democrats is now even more solid for the GOP. And to keep this alignment intact so that populous, liberal states like New York and California don’t dominate the Electoral College map, the GOP finds it both convenient and sometimes necessary to fashion their national campaigns around the issue of race.
Remember Ronald Reagan’s ‘welfare queen?’ Sure, Reagan peppered every stump speech with various one-liners designed to back up his argument that government social programs were no good. But did he have to use such a blatant racist appeal to drive home the idea that welfare was bad? He didn’t, but he did.
Then in 1988, George Bush was behind in all the polls until he ran his Willie Horton ad which showed a Black guy who was given a furlough from jail and immediately went out and committed some terrible crimes. You mean the Massachusetts penal system hadn’t given an early release to some White guy who then committed the same crimes or worse? Of course it had.
Race happens to be the only domestic issue over which the two political parties take a fundamentally different approach. But you’ll say – hey, wait a minute, what about taxes? Republicans always cut taxes while Democrats love to spend. So guess who was responsible for signing a bill that has contributed the most personal income to the U.S. Treasury of all time. The great tax-cutter Ronald Reagan, who doubled the payroll tax rate in 1983.
Racial issues took a back seat in the Presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, and to his credit, John McCain went out of his way to stamp out racial references during his campaign. Romney had enough problems defending himself as a hard-hearted plutocrat in 2012 and, after all, it wasn’t polite to throw racial epithets at the President of the United States.
Those reservations on the part of the GOP have become completely undone by a Republican President who goes out of his way to stoke racial resentments every chance he gets. You think his description of Mexican immigrants as ‘rapists’ isn’t an appeal to racist fears? You think when Trump laughed and said, “Where’s my African-America?” at a California campaign stop that he wasn’t invoking the worst, most insidious form of race-baiting that there ever was? Yea, big joke.
This is a time when people are scared. This is a time when people are afraid. What happens when people get scared? They take out their fears and worries by looking for someone or something to blame.
When the corona virus first appeared, Trump blamed the World Health Organization and the Chinese. The only problem is that after he got done telling everyone that it was someone else’s fault, the virus continued to spread.
We are at the point that this pandemic may actually result in adding more than 10 percent to the number of Americans who die in 2020 compared to the number who normally die every year. So the fear will continue to grow, which means that Trump needs to find another target, and what better-proven target is out there than the idea that a bunch of Black thugs are running around burning down the place?
Think Trump wants to go to Kenosha to sit down with the family of Jacob Blake?
Please get a flu shot. Please.