ONE BLACK EVANGELICAL METAMORPHOSIS ON THE 2016 ELECTION
By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.
Like most Americans, I’m not enamored with either of the major parties’ presidential nominees. Furthermore, I have burdens in my bosom about both parties’ platforms and actions.
The Democrats have totally abandoned God’s definition of marriage and the protection of life in the womb. The Republicans have abandoned President George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism and Daddy Bush’s 1000 points of light philosophies.
President George H.W. Bush spoke out against the unwarranted beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department. President H. W. Bush traveled to Los Angeles and met with Pastor E.V. Hill and other Black pastors in order to identify with the pain Blacks were feeling over the Rodney King verdict. Today’s Republicans primarily remain silent or supportive of unarmed Black men being shot in the streets by policeman. The life of the people being mistreated by policeman—regardless of the color of the police or the victim—is just as much a quality of life issue as abortion. The Republican Party should not be silent while Black men and women are being killed by policemen—unarmed, with hands in the air, while serving autistic persons; college students being told to get their license, and being shot in the process of doing so; unarmed man in the middle of the street with car trouble being killed while threatening no one; Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and Sandra Bland are all unjustified police killings, in my opinion. Any one of them could easily have been one of my four children or grandchildren. I cannot reconcile my Christian Faith with the silence, seemingly consent, or justifications/defense given by Republicans for these and other unjustifiable cases of police brutality. Where is the Daddy Bush of the Republican Party?
I’ve identified in the past and voted in my early adult years, as a Democrat. While yet a young (but older) adult, I also converted and identified as a Republican. When once asked by a news reporter if I was a Ronald Reagan Republican; I answered No!!! I am a Jesse Jackson Republican. Why? Because I so strongly disagreed with a strong pro-gay rights message—and strong “women’s reproductive rights” message—that Jackson delivered to the Democratic National Convention in 1984, it forced me to evaluate and rethink my relationship to the Democratic Party. Later I read their platform and discovered the Democrats strongly supported gay rights, “gay families” and abortion. I found it impossible to reconcile the Democratic platform positions with my Christian Faith.
I hold strong views regarding Pro-Life, Natural Marriage, Social Justice, Providing an economic Safety Net for the least among us, Strong Defense, School Choice, Pro-Affordable Healthcare, Fiscal Responsibility, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and government-funded abortions, and smaller government. As you can tell, my values don’t so easily fit into a Democratic or Republican box. Consequently, I now consider myself a political independent.
Jimmy Carter was the last Democratic Presidential Candidate that I voted for. I have consistently voted for Republican presidential candidates since then for the aforementioned reasons. The only one I didn’t vote for was Mitt Romney, because he would not distance himself from beliefs in his Mormon Bible(s) that teaches that dark-skinned people are inferior to Whites and other derogatory remarks regarding dark-skinned people recorded there. I voted down line that year but did not cast a vote for President.
While voting Republican to try and protect traditional marriage since the ’80’s, we’ve witnessed gay marriage become the law of the land. While voting to try and reverse the abortion laws back to a pre-Roe V. Wade posture, we’ve watched the expansion of abortion to a great degree. Abortion is legal in all 50 states. Republican presidents, congressmen, senators and judges have failed to protect America from same-sex marriage and the expansion of abortion. One has to stop and ask himself/herself: Is it wise to continue to vote for these ideals and principles, and the Republican Party if they are not delivering on your vote; and settled law has ruled in favor of gay marriage and abortion?
Many people are quick to make clear and take pride in the fact that they are not one-issue voters. I am quick to make clear and take pride in the fact that I can be and often am a one-issue voter. Some issues are just that important to me. Life as it relates to abortion is one of those issues. Redefining the definition of marriage in this Country is one of those issues that I proudly would be and have been a one-issue voter on. If I had any reason to believe that casting a vote for Trump would reverse the same-sex marriage laws or abortion laws within the next four to eight to twelve years, Trump would have my vote in a heartbeat. If I had any reason to believe that Trump held deeply rooted convictional values regarding same-sex marriage and abortion that he was willing to fight for to change—he’d have my vote in a heartbeat.
However, I must accept the dark, grim, stark, cold, and cruel reality this year, that…Republicans have absolutely no chance of making any headway toward reversing Roe V. Wade, defunding abortions or Planned Parenthood, reversing gay marriage, or reversing transgender public school bathroom issues with Donald Trump in the White House. I am not convinced that Donald Trump holds any convictions regarding any of these positions that he’s willing to really fight for. I’m not convinced that Donald Trump will appoint SCOTUS Justices that will make the right decisions regarding these issues. Donald Trump has been all over the map on these issues. When asked if he’d ever financed an abortion, he wouldn’t answer the question. If Gov. Huckabee, Gov. Jeb Bush, or Dr. Ben Carson were the Republican Presidential nominees waving the flag to lead the charge to address these issues, I would be on board. Donald J. Trump? Never in a million years.
There is simply no track record to justify the confidence the Party has placed in Trump. I’m amazed at the confidence that certain evangelical leaders have placed in Trump to champion these aforementioned righteous causes, while he currently owns a strip club and casinos. The delusion these evangelical leaders are under staggers the imagination. They have forfeited all moral authority in the future to ever attack a Democratic candidate on the basis of morality. Furthermore, I should never have to answer another question about how Black Christians could vote for Democrats, if White evangelicals find Trump vote worthy. Unfortunately, the issues we all agree upon aren’t on the ballots. It’s the candidates’ names on the ballots. Therefore, the argument that you are not voting for a person but a platform or principles—does not resonate with Trump as the face of the platform and principles.
Given my propensity to be a one-issue voter; and given the fact that the one-two issues that have primarily driven my voting the past 30 years seem to be at this point settled issues; and given my complete lack of confidence in the character and competence of Donald Trump to serve as POTUS; I watched the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with great interest and intensity.
Prior to watching the debate, it was my intent to vote for a write-in or third party candidate. When the debate moderator asked both candidates a question regarding “racial healing” in America, my listening antenna rose to an all-time high.
As I listened to two radically different answers the two gave to questions regarding racial healing and police brutality issues, I begin to think about how one of these two persons will shape the world that my 12 grandchildren grow up in over the next 4-8 years, and beyond considering the Supreme Court appointments.
The priority voting issue for me has always been LIFE and quality of life. Donald Trump’s answer to the question of “Racial Healing” was “Law and Order” and “Stop and Frisk.” I thought to myself: you’ve got to be kidding me. That spoke volumes to me. He saw Black people as criminals. In order to heal the racial divide, his solution would be to stop and frisk my 12 grandchildren and, upon sight, see them as in need of law and order supervision. His answer was horrifying to me. And how his administration would address these issues are very much as important as life issues in the womb from my vantage point. Listen to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump answer the question “So how do you heal the [racial] divides?” in their own words: (Reported in The Washington Post)
“HOLT: Well, we’re well behind schedule, so I want to move to our next segment. We move into our next segment talking about America’s direction. And let’s start by talking about race.
The share of Americans who say race relations are bad in this country is the highest it’s been in decades, much of it amplified by shootings of African-Americans by police, as we’ve seen recently in Charlotte and Tulsa. Race has been a big issue in this campaign, and one of you is going to have to bridge a very wide and bitter gap.
So how do you heal the divide? Secretary Clinton, you get two minutes on this.
CLINTON: Well, you’re right. Race remains a significant challenge in our country. Unfortunately, race still determines too much, often determines where people live, determines what kind of education in their public schools they can get, and, yes, it determines how they’re treated in the criminal justice system. We’ve just seen those two tragic examples in both Tulsa and Charlotte.
And we’ve got to do several things at the same time. We have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they’re well prepared to use force only when necessary. Everyone should be respected by the law, and everyone should respect the law.
CLINTON: Right now, that’s not the case in a lot of our neighborhoods. So I have, ever since the first day of my campaign, called for criminal justice reform. I’ve laid out a platform that I think would begin to remedy some of the problems we have in the criminal justice system.
But we also have to recognize, in addition to the challenges that we face with policing, there are so many good, brave police officers who equally want reform. So we have to bring communities together in order to begin working on that as a mutual goal. And we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
The gun epidemic is the leading cause of death of young African- American men, more than the next nine causes put together. So we have to do two things, as I said. We have to restore trust. We have to work with the police. We have to make sure they respect the communities and the communities respect them. And we have to tackle the plague of gun violence, which is a big contributor to a lot of the problems that we’re seeing today.
HOLT: All right, Mr. Trump, you have two minutes. How do you heal the divide?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn’t want to use a couple of words, and that’s law and order. And we need law and order. If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.
And when I look at what’s going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what’s going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it’s — I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long — we need law and order in our country.
I just got today the, as you know, the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, we just — just came in. We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very — I mean, a large percentage of them in the United States.
We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African- Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.
In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st. Thousands of shootings. And I’m saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing? And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order. In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years, in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over — almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order.
Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn’t be having it.
We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they’re illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant.
We have to be — we have to know what we’re doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated.
HOLT: Your two — your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.
TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.
HOLT: The argument is that it’s a form of racial profiling.
TRUMP: No, the argument is that we have to take the guns away from these people that have them and they are bad people that shouldn’t have them.
These are felons. These are people that are bad people that shouldn’t be — when you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st, when you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns, from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama, his hometown, you have to have stop-and-frisk.
You need more police. You need a better community, you know, relation. You don’t have good community relations in Chicago. It’s terrible. I have property there. It’s terrible what’s going on in Chicago.
But when you look — and Chicago’s not the only — you go to Ferguson; you go to so many different places. You need better relationships. I agree with Secretary Clinton on this.
TRUMP: You need better relationships between the communities and the police, because in some cases, it’s not good.
But you look at Dallas, where the relationships were really studied, the relationships were really a beautiful thing, and then five police officers were killed one night very violently. So there’s some bad things going on. Some really bad things.
HOLT: Secretary Clinton…
TRUMP: But we need — Lester, we need law and order. And we need law and order in the inner cities, because the people that are most affected by what’s happening are African-American and Hispanic people. And it’s very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.
HOLT: Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I’ve heard — I’ve heard Donald say this at his rallies, and it’s really unfortunate that he paints such a dire negative picture of black communities in our country.
CLINTON: You know, the vibrancy of the black church, the black businesses that employ so many people, the opportunities that so many families are working to provide for their kids.There’s a lot that we should be proud of and we should be supporting and lifting up.
But we do always have to make sure we keep people safe. There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional and, in part, because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.
Now, I believe in community policing. And, in fact, violent crime is one-half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. We just don’t want to see it creep back up. We’ve had 25 years of very good cooperation.
But there were some problems, some unintended consequences. Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses. And it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. So we’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say law and order. We have to say — we have to come forward with a plan that is going to divert people from the criminal justice system, deal with mandatory minimum sentences, which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little.
We need to have more second chance programs. I’m glad that we’re ending private prisons in the federal system; I want to see them ended in the state system. You shouldn’t have a profit motivation to fill prison cells with young Americans. So there are some positive ways we can work on this.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/26/the-first-trump-clinton-presidential-debate-transcript-annotated/)
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William Dwight McKissic, Sr. is a prominent African-American Southern Baptist minister from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He is the founder and current senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. You can read his blog at http://dwightmckissic.wordpress.com/