Okay “congregants,” this week’s “sermon” is about politics and the upcoming presidential elections.
My handful of theological classes have led me to the conclusion that had Jesus/Yeshua supported an economic system, it would be socialism.
And, while I’m sure the Messiah would not have been a member of any political party, His frustration with corporate greed would have prodded Him to give serious thought to supporting Bernie Sanders for president.
The fact that Sanders is Jewish probably would have appealed to The Lord as well
Then again, maybe Joe Biden would remind Jesus of Methuselah; or, from a sociocultural perspective, Moses, whose philosophy was considered more in line with the teachings and laws of the Torah and Talmud.
Either way, I’m sure Yeshua would have explained to the flock that voting was only half of the equation needed for economic and educational salvation.
The other half has to do with the oversight of the political system.
In that regard, we can easily substitute “voting” for “faith” as explained in James 2: 14-26.
In a nutshell, my sermon posits that it is asinine to suggest voting in and by itself, is significant to improve our lives.
In other words, voting without a dictate or agenda, and follow up monitoring is akin to a car without gas.
Without tempting blasphemy (which in my case is asking a lot), it would be heaven on earth if we utilized our political clout to press an agenda of empowerment our politicians would legislate to fruition.
Imagine if we actually did what other special interests do and became the chess board’s queen instead of its pawn.
Imagine how our lives would be enriched, and our socioeconomic status improved, if we demanded accountability from our politicians.
Visualize a future where those we elect to office served us exclusively, instead of a political party, or other special interests (or that secret board of directors who dictate from up high?).
Whether you take this hypothesis as sacrilegious or not, God (Nyame) has given (some of) us enough common sense to realize that assuming Black America’s plight would be resolved exclusively by voting is about as stupid as believing the GOP is going to include reparations for slavery in its national platform (you KNOW that ain’t happenin’).
There’s a reason why African Americans have received crumbs while other special interests get a slice of the pie. And it’s not because we don’t have meaningful influence over the political system.
Actually, as this national election is playing out, ours is the most powerful piece on the chessboard. The problem is we don’t realize how powerful we are and, more importantly, don’t demand more than symbolism or an opportunity to kiss the ring and take a picture with the king.
The truth of the matter is, we’ve been influencing presidential elections since FDR. Indeed, over the last two decades, our vote has determined the outcome of every “untainted” presidential election.
Without us, Bill Clinton would not have been in a position to exploit Monica Lewinski.
It was the Black vote that put a Black man in the white house who wasn’t a butler.
When we stayed home in 2016, Hillary Clinton went back to wearing dresses.
And most recently, the Black vote resurrected the Joe Biden campaign.
Counted out by many political pundits, Biden received overwhelming Black support in both “Super Tuesday,” and this week’s “Big Tuesday.”
And if we show up in numbers anywhere near what we provided Obama in 2008, he will hold the door for Donald Trump as he takes his lies and (five foot long) ties back to his New York penthouse, or Palm Springs country club…or better yet, Russia, in January.
But I can almost guarantee we won’t be rewarded to any great extent for our vote no matter who wins in November.
That’s because unlike the other special interests, we seem to be satisfied with returning to the 2016 status quo instead of demanding a full slice of the pie, or the resources to make our own dessert.
The fact the issues of crucial importance to Black America were not even discussed during that reality show they called debates, or that the tough questions were never asked, speaks volumes about what to expect when, and if, 45IQ’s reign is ended.
And in that regard, it doesn’t matter (it never really did) who the Democratic Party nominee is because this presidential race is not about who’s going to occupy the White House next January; but instead, who we don’t want there.
Thus, I can all but guarantee 90-plus percent of the Black vote will go to the Democrat nominee.
Nonetheless, pundits would be wise to realize it is not the percentage, but the total number that will count. Many Black folks will stay home, some because of apathy and others because they don’t see a pot of gold—or brass ring—at the end of the rainbow. That’s the way it’s been for decades.
But let’s table that paradigm for a moment.
As the saying goes: “all politics are local.” And a study of our impact through those prisms reveals we are not only stuck in a political abyss, but we’re “stuck on stupid,” falsely believing we don’t’ have to hold our elected officials accountable.
I’ve lived long enough to remember when we had just one alder(wo)man and one state representative. Today, we are in a position to control every local political entity.
The president of the council is a brother, as is the vice-chair of the County Board. We make up almost half of the school board, and you’ll find a Black face, (if not cultural connection) on nearly every public board in Metro Milwaukee.
But you wouldn’t know that by the metrics.
We still lead the nation in seven negative social indicators, including one of the highest African American poverty and male unemployment rates in the country.
The income gap is among the widest for a city our size south of the Canadian border (the real Mason Dixon Line), and we have the worst reading proficiency rates for Black children in fourth and eighth grade in the not-so-United States of America.
Most recently, a report revealed Black ownership has dropped to its lowest point since the Open Housing marches and 25 cent hamburgers.
And the fact that we lost two Black banks, a major Black-owned grocery store and a radio station cannot be ignored.
Nor can the words of Ruben Hopkins, head of the Wisconsin African American Chamber of Commerce, who commented on NBC Sunday talking-heads political show “Meet the Press” a short time ago that if we want to go to a movie, an upscale restaurant or a roller rink, we have to go to the suburbs.
Obviously, you can’t put all of the onus for that depressing reality on the shoulder of Black politicians, just as you can’t put the abysmal state of education solely on the shoulders of teachers.
But conversely, there is much they could do and should do, but can’t or don’t, in part because we don’t hold them accountable, or provide them with an agenda or motivation (as in the threat of recall or one term, then out of office).
For the record, there are a few Black politicians who stand up and out. And a few others who have mastered the established rules and thus benefit us from inside the castle walls. But in totality, no one can deny we are not getting the bang for our buck.
We’ve accepted complacency, ineffectiveness, and an occasional press release to condemn violence or police brutality as a legitimate outcome for their $100,000 salaries and lifelong economic security.
It’s debatable whether or not Albert Einstein coined the phrase about insanity being defined as doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.
Regardless of its author, I’m sure you’ll see a picture under the quote of a Black man holding a ballot card believing it’s a lottery ticket.
It doesn’t work that way. Or, at least it hasn’t in my lifetime.
As I’ve repeatedly posited, we elect “our” local politicians based on their ability to articulate the problems facing our community, not because they have solutions for them.
And even when we discover—after four or five terms—that our plight hasn’t changed because of our vote, we continue to follow the same script, with the difference being we’ll start criticizing and complaining.
We’re experts at complaining, but very poor when it comes to problem-solving.
Very few of us will ever attend a political meeting, call an elected official, or write a proposal. Even if you assumed the primary responsibility of politicians is to manage our resources—taxes—few of us know where to go to testify for a budget hearing.
We put our support behind the candidate who merely mentions that we exist, who say they identify with our plight. That’s why the dozen or so finalists for the Democratic Party nod took every opportunity during the debates to connect all of America’s issues to “Blacks” or Black people, or African Americans (depending on the audience).
None of them, however, introduced a solution to our myriad problems.
Biden ended up as the front runner because he boldly proclaimed the support of the Black masses, a fact that was realized during Super Tuesday.
Yet, his relationship to us was forged by Obama, not his voting record or his ability to sing the Black National Anthem.
But it doesn’t make any difference, as this year’s presidential election will not be about issues…including ours.
Instead, the presidential race, like our last gubernatorial election, is not about who we want in the White House, but who we wish gone from it.
That means while we will be much better off with a Democratic Party candidate, there is very little hope that our concerns will be addressed any more than they have been this century.
Of course, this sermon may be moot. The evangelicals and conservatives who helped elect Donald Duck…err Trump… did so believing he actualized a religious prophecy.
If they are correct, the end of days is around the corner. And if that’s the case, it won’t make any difference who will be elected.