What Will Make America Great Again?

Make America GreatMake America Great Again.

That is the refrain of one half of the American Electorate. And I get it: I understand the anger that so many have at the system.

At every level and across all dividing lines, the Government has failed We the People…or it has at least fallen short of its purpose as an American Government.

It has failed to establish justice. And so we see countless citizens crying out for their rights and to have the system treat them fairly. The system has allowed the poor and the other to be marginalized and abused. The system has not protected the people from having their land and property taken away. It has not reformed itself to undo years of redlining and gerrymandering that leave people without a way to appeal for justice. It has allowed the frustrations of the people to percolate to a slow boil, from dreams deferred and hopes dashed.

Truly, the Government has failed to insure domestic tranquility. Look at the hatred and anger of today’s social climate. People are boiling about the treatment of Americans by agents of their own Government. People feel like they are under attack and that they need to defend themselves. Surely, there is no peace or harmony on the home front.

She has failed to provide for the common defense. And as a result, so many are tempted to give into fear…afraid of those who want to kill us and destroy our way of life.

America has failed to promote the general welfare. From schools, to roads, to healthcare…our infrastructure has been neglected. Our Country has allowed her citizens to go hungry and thirsty. She is comfortable even though many are without shelter and adequate clothing. She allows her people to be sick, and condemns them to prison – locking them up and throwing away the key. (cf. Matt 25:31-46)

Our country has failed to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. So the middle-class has been gutted. Jobs have been shipped over seas. The majority of our wealth is in the hands of one-percent of our people.

The establishment has abandoned these ideals. Society has abandoned these ideals. Yet, these are the components…things that make up American Greatness, by our Constitution’s standards. And upholding these components is what forms a More Perfect Union.

So…when was America great?

When has our Country ever upheld all of these components faithfully?

From the Founding of this Country, and the establishment of the Noble Ideal of America, America has failed to uphold these components in all aspects of social life. So, how could America quite be Great – by her own definition?

By the Constitution’s standard, America may be almost great. But not quite great yet. For by American standards, greatness consists of the constant upward call of pursuing a More Perfect Union. To be an American, in the purest sense, is to be committed to forming that More Perfect Union.

MLK America GreatIn the Gospel sense, to make America Great means to pursue the Kingdom of God.

Not the “Christian Kingdom,” for Christians do not have a kingdom. Not the “Muslim Kingdom,” for they don’t have a kingdom either. And not the “Jewish Kingdom,” for they don’t have a monarch. To make America great is to become a people in pursuit of the One God: Who Is above all and with all and in you all. Only He has that land which could ever be perfect. So, we who pledge allegiance to this Country must ever be in pursuit of a deeper commitment to that More Perfect Union.

Greatness, by American standards, could never be achieved by appeals to or playing nice with ignoble and bad minded ideals: racism, xenophobia, isolationism and etc.

lynchedFrom Slavery through Jim Crow, until the New Jim Crow present, America has failed to champion the Noble Ideal. She has failed to establish justice by allowing Blacks to be slaughtered with impunity, with very few Whites ever facing trial. She has failed to insure domestic tranquility, as some of her citizens can find no peace of mind from the turmoil of violence and crime and drugs. America has failed to provide for the common defense as Black communities continue to be ravaged by all sorts of policy tricks that marginalize them. She has failed to promote the general welfare as evidenced by the disparities in quality of life that are sharply divided on racial lines. She has failed to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, when you consider the immense wealth gap between White and Black.

Yet We Can Make America Great Again

In those hopeful moments when the right thing was done, for just those moments, America was great. She has experienced momentary greatness, in those times when she rises to the occasion and lives up to her creed. She was great with she moved to end Slavery, despite the cost of White sons and daughters. America was great when she gave women the right to vote. She was great when she finally was compelled to do something about Jim Crow segregation. America was great when she allowed herself to elect a Black man as her President.

But that past greatness was only momentary…it wasn’t lasting. America pulls together in times of tragedy and loss. Then she returns to normal. Like a family who lost a loved one, we pull together in grief vowing to not lose touch again…only to fade apart a few months later.

When we come to love the formation of a More Perfect Union and hold that as our unifying ideal, regardless of faith, color or creed, then we can make America great. When the establishment is again focused on the upward call of social perfection, then America can be great again. And hopefully the “again” of American greatness will not just be a momentary one. Hopefully it will be lasting greatness that is only achieved through love and humility.

To make America great will take self-examination

It will require us – as a Society – to see where we have fallen short of those Founding Ideals: repenting for falling short, forgiving those who have fallen short, and reconciling the breach.

America will be great again when we commit to the Noble Ideal of America. We must commit to forming a More Perfect Union…a Union where none are judged by their social location: skin color, community of birth, sexuality, nationality, gender, faith, etc. Rather all are judged by their commitment to this Noble Ideal:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Rethinking the Mandate for President Obama after the Status Quo Election

A polarizing election leaves us polarized in its wake.  On the Left, the stance is that Barack Obama’s victory serves as a mandate.  On the Right, the stance is that the President’s victory is no mandate.  Both sides have arguments to prove their point.

But, what does the reality of a “status quo election” tell us?  With Congressional Approval Ratings at all-time lows and ratings of the Federal Government also at all-time lows, how does one explain the fact that the 2012 Elections resulted in maintenance of the established order?  If Americans are as frustrated with the gridlock in Washington as they say they are, how is it that they elect to keep the balance of power the same?  In the final analysis, we still have a Democrat in the White House, a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives.

What then is this mandate?

Democrats will tell you that the mandate is for President Obama to charge ahead with his agenda.  They will argue that the election results demonstrate approval by the American people, on the President’s vision for America.  They will point to the 332 – 206 Electoral Vote margin, and call the victory a landslide.  As such, the results stand as proof that the America is clearly in favor of the direction laid forth by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

Yet, simply looking at a map of the election results shows us a different picture.  When we glance at this map, we see a divided America…not the clear favor and victorious landslide some would suggest.  We see that a sizable portion of the Country was (and is) not on-board with the agenda.  A large swatch of the American Fabric rejects that agenda.  What is clear, is the general division between the hinterland and the coastal lands.  So with a mere 2.4% separating the popular vote, I can also understand why some would say that this “divided nation did not hand President Obama a mandate in his re-election victory.”

What then is this mandate?

We can (and pundits will) argue this point for weeks and months, never coming to a consensus.  Politics is like that…depending on who does the spinning.  Yet, the lens of the Gospel calls us to begin rethinking the mandate for President Obama after the status quo election.

As Psalm 133 states, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  It is in through this lens that I began rethinking the mandate given President Obama in light of this status quo election.  It is as if the people issued a mandate for the President and the status quo Congress to go back and find ways to work together.  It is as if the electorate told the President, the Democrat Senate and the Republican House they would not be let off the hook.  Neither would have the opportunity to loose control of either Branch of Government, so they could point the finger at the other.  Neither would be afforded the chance to gain control of either Branch of Government, so they could simply ignore the call to work together.  Both are now stuck with each other.  And, the mandate given Barack Obama is that he must stay, stand and fix the fundamental problem of discord.

Yet, for this to make sense we must begin rethinking the mandate for President Obama after the status quo election.  We the People, on the Right, and We the People, on the Left, must not allow ourselves to be blinded by the pinheaded arguments of pundits who create spin to keep their jobs.  The turn around we need to move forward is of a different sort.  And, those who stood watch as division rose to crippling proportions and profited from the discord must be the ones held accountable.  They must be the ones to lead lead us to that good and pleasant place of unity.

When we rethink the mandate for President Obama, we are not caught in the issues of Right and Left.  Rather, we see that consciously (or, subconsciously) We the People have – indeed – issued a mandate that Barack Obama return to the White House and fulfill his promise to forge “A More Perfect Union.”

The mandate is not of an economic nature.  The mandate is not health care.  The mandate is not jobs.  For neither of these issues, or any other, can be solved if we don’t address the failings of our humanity.

Rethinking the mandate for President Obama after the status quo election begs us to see that the dollars and cents are not as important as our soul…that reconciling our budget is not as urgent as reconciling our spirit – that it might be maintain in the bond of peace.  The division serves to remind us, that we might remind him of his own words at the 2004 DNC Convention: “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America.”

What do you say?  I say, the mandate for President Obama is social.  Not social as in social engineering, but social as in how the various members of our Society relate so that out of many we might truly become one.  Will you enforce that mandate?

“How good and how pleasant it is for God’s people to live together in unity!”

Now that Barack Obama has Won a Second Term – A Wish List

First, congratulations to President Obama.  Yet, I am sitting watching the election results, feeling a bit “blah.”  I see folk on social media talking about shedding tears of joy and cheering.  I watch the pandemonium on the television.  Yet, I don’t feel any of that emotion.  I remember that emotion.  I felt it after I voted for President Obama in 2008.  I felt in when myself, an ex-wife and two small children (ages 4 & 5) rode to Ohio on a bus and knocked on doors throughout the state for Barack Obama.

I felt the joy when, as an Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2008, I was asked what it was like to be a Black man supporting John McCain, when Barack Obama was running on the other side.  I told the NBC reporter, “I am no supporting McCain!  There is far more to inspire my children – Omari Jahi, Ajani Omar, and Khalil-Lullah – to participate in the advancement of our Country by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, than electing John McCain (or, Bill Clinton) could ever accomplish.”

But, this time…I don’t feel the joy.  And, when I mentioned that $6 BILLION has been spent this election cycle in order to maintain the status quo, a friend tells me that I should simply “enjoy the moment.”  I couldn’t help but ponder: why should I enjoy this?  What did we gain, besides the satisfaction of re-electing a Black man?  Yet because I’m not caught up in the euphoria of the moment, people are accusing me of self-hate and hating Black people!  Wow…that’s laughable.

Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t vote for Mitt Romney…couldn’t vote for the present iteration of the Republican Party.  The GOP might still (unfortunately) be “old,” but it’s certainly no longer “Grand!”  It’s small-minded and petty…blinded by hate that has all but rendered it irrelevant.

Nevertheless, I definitely have my differences with President Obama.

His foreign policy is more hawkish than George W. Bush.  See here and here and here.  The President has authorized the domestic use of drones as part of the “War on Drugs.”  Rather than ending the “New Jim Crown,” Barack Obama is devising ways to strengthen it.  When it comes to the plight of Black and Brown people, the President has done his best (at least in his first term) to prove to White society that he’s not about to upset the established social order.

As I stated in “The Conundrum of Blackness and Voting When the President is Black,” President Obama says nothing of his plans to deal with economic and societal disparities that diverge on the basis of race.  Rather, President Obama (and his advisers) still want Blacks to believe that a “rising tide lifts all boats.”  The funny thing is that while Black Americans never accepted President Reagan’s “trickle-down economic theory,” Black people accept the same “trickle-down” ideology when it comes from the mouth of a Black man.

So, I ask again…what moment am I supposed to be enjoying?

But, now that Barack Obama has won a second term maybe we can hope for some action on racial disparities and income inequality.  Now that President Obama doesn’t have to worry about his poll numbers for the upcoming election, maybe he will now be courageous enough to bring about the change that will ensure equal opportunity so that everyone has a fair shot at creating the outcomes that are possible in this great Nation.

Now that Barack Obama has won a second term, maybe we can hope for some change in the justice system so that it no longer preys on the poor, the Black and the Brown.  Maybe he might muster the courage to dismantle the New Jim Crow and the system of Mass Incarceration that profits off the poor and disinherited.

I cannot enjoy the moment because so many in this Country suffer.  I cannot enjoy this moment because so many across the globe suffer.  I cannot enjoy this moment because I’d rather be vigilant.  Rather than be fooled again, I choose to keep my eyes on the prize and press on!

Rather than be swept away by the euphoria of the moment, I hope now that Barack Obama has won a second term he might be the transcendent President he (and we) made himself to be.  American truly needs great leadership and I believe (with my 2008 vote) that he can do it.  But, the version of Barack Obama we witnessed in his first term was not the Barack Obama I envisioned.  The Barack Obama we witnessed was a politician as usual.

I don’t expect him to be a Black President.  He never could be.  But, I did expect that his Blackness would help him to understand how the structures of America needed to change so that it could be inclusive to all people – foreign and domestic.  I did hope that his “non-Whiteness” would give us the opportunity to have a President who would shake the stigma of Government for “some” people.  But, four years later the scene is still a dog-eat-dog, mud-slinging, slugfest.  Such a shame…such a wasted opportunity.

Maybe now that Barack Obama has won a second term he will understand that he is free to be the man he was created to be.  Maybe he can be a man worthy of all the laud and honor.  Maybe now he can usher in the culmination of the Civil Rights movement and post-Racial America that had heretofore been prematurely declared.

I cannot enjoy this moment because if Barack Obama, himself, doesn’t reclaim his own hope and embody his own change, all this moment will be is just that – a moment in history.

The Conundrum of Blackness and Voting When the President is Black

As time winds down on Election 2012 and the race for President of the United States between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, I wanted to take time to post a few thoughts.  The first, “Negroes, We are Free to Use our Natural Minds” can be accessed here.

Yet, before folk think I’m being partisan and partial…a typical Black arguing for blind support of Barack Obama, I figured I had better post another article to expound upon the complexities with which I’m struggling during this election.

When you are Black, the assumption is that you are voting Democrat…the further assumption is that you are voting for your “soul brother,” Barack Obama.  I mean look: folk damn near lost their minds because Stacey Dash recently endorsed Mitt Romney.

Here’s the problem: if you’re Black and not supporting President Obama, then you’re judged by the Black community.  If you’re Black and supporting the President, then you’re only doing so because he’s Black too.  Either way, one is quickly dismissed to the detriment of debate on the issues and their pertinence to the Black community.

As Frederick C. Harris states in his excellent op-ed, “The Price of a Black President,” “Whether it ends in 2013 or 2017, the Obama presidency has already marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality. The tragedy is that black elites — from intellectuals and civil rights leaders to politicians and clergy members — have acquiesced to this decline, seeing it as the necessary price for the pride and satisfaction of having a black family in the White House.”

This is the conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black.

It seems we cannot be critical, because to be critical is to be disloyal.  Beyond simply being disloyal to an individual, to be critical of President Obama’s failings to address issues of import to Black people (or any issue, for that matter) is to be disloyal to Black people!  Note the irony…

The conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black is that we – as Blacks – have relinquished our right to vote, of our own accord.  Other voters are courted.  There are commercials directed to the Jewish vote, to the Hispanic Vote, to the White woman’s vote, to the Blue Collar White Male vote, etc.  The commercials for the Black vote amount to little more than slapping Jay-Z in a commercial.

There’s no talk of issues.  The commercial doesn’t address the President’s plans to deal with economic and societal disparities that diverge on the basis of race.  The ad doesn’t speak of the any efforts to address to School to Prison Pipeline.  No voiceover speaks of President Obama’s efforts to end the War on Drugs that feeds the (for profit) system of Mass Incarceration, that results in more than 60% of American prison population coming from 20% of the total American population.  No one says anything about President Obama’s strategy for ending the “New Jim Crow.”  Jay-Z doesn’t speak of any plan by the President to bring the rate of Black unemployment (double that of White Americans) on par with the mainstream.

Rather, President Obama (and his advisers) still want Blacks to believe that a “rising tide lifts all boats.”  The funny thing is that while Black Americans never accepted President Reagan’s “trickle-down economic theory,” Black people accept the same “trickle-down” ideology when it comes from the mouth of a Black man.

And, this is the conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black.

Because, as we see with Stacey Dash’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, for a Black person to endorse Mitt Romney is for that Black person to draw their very Blackness into question.  Not because of any particular issue.  But, simply because one decided to go against the grain.

Yet just as Jay-Z’s ad lacked substance, so too did Stacey Dash’s endorsement of Mitt Romney.  Nevertheless, she is – indeed – entitled to her opinion…just like the other Black Republicans I know.

I would like to agree with their opinions.  I mean, I myself just laid forth a case against President Obama – and that’s simply on his policies (or, lack thereof) as pertains issues of import to Black people.  That says nothing of my vast disagreements with him on a host of other issues!

If the Republicans had a sensible nominee, I would be all in as well.  But, they sold themselves on a candidate they outright rejected in 2008 simply because polling data showed this candidate could defeat President Obama.  The GOP doesn’t believe in Romney…the GOP simply doesn’t want Obama.

Now, yes, there were some who supported Romney four years ago.  So, they are standing firm.  But, the majority of Republicans rejected the man in whom they so ardently believe, today.  Again, note the irony…

Yet, beyond that, I cannot buy into a candidate whose faith devalues my humanity.  As I stated in an earlier post, I cannot simply ignore the fact that Mitt Romney subscribes to a faith that considers Blackness to be a mark of iniquity.  I mean, the very stereotypes of Black people being “idle, full of mischief and subtlety,” are used to describe those marked by the curse and changed from their “exceedingly fair and delightsome” Whiteness.

So, I’m left to face the conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black.  One holds dear a faith that is dismissive of my equal creation in the Image of God.  The other believes his Blackness is enough for my allegiance.

I pray…I close my eyes…I pull the lever.  God help us all!

Negroes, We are Free to Use Our Natural Minds in Electoral 2012

I continue to receive emails from fellow Black Republicans trying to sell me – and others – on support for Mitt Romney.  The most recent was from the Chair of a Black Republican organization entitled, “Prominent Black Mormons.”  The email (and post) is styled as an attempt to dismiss charges of racism against Mormons.  The defense used by the author is that there are Black Mormons.  Hence the title: “Prominent Black Mormons.”  My response is…SO WHAT?

So, because some Black people decided to ignore the bigoted ideology of the Mormon Church that means Mormon ideology isn’t racist? There were Negroes in the Confederate Army…does that mean the Confederacy wasn’t racist? We must be smarter than this and stop selling ourselves for the crumbs of our (former) masters.

Negroes…we are FREE to use our natural minds! We shouldn’t have to shovel crap any longer. Stature, standing and prestige in the eyes of Whites shouldn’t be of such importance that scholarship, integrity and truth go out the window.

The example that would refute racism in Mormon theology IS NOT the presence (nor absence) of Black people. It would be a refutation of racist scripture in their texts. For instance, from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:20-25 states:

20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be bcut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

25 And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.

I have fervently searched for a refutation of Joseph Smith and this passage.  I have found none.  If you know of any, please post it to the comments!  Nevertheless, this passage remains in Mormon Canon.

Forget the fact that Mormons…the descendants of Moroni (the Mormon prophet – NOT Jesus), son of Mormon, believe themselves to be descendants of Jacob – and a lost tribe of Israel – who migrated to the Americas in the 600s BCE. According to their theology and history, in the 6th century AD, Native Americans came is slaughtered all the Europeans – stealing this land from Whites. Their messianic vision is to reclaim America for “it’s rightful owners” (i.e. White European Americans). Joseph Smith hoped to effect this petit-apocolypse by running for US President in 1844. Herein lies the parallels and problems with Romney’s candidacy – sans a refutation of problematic Mormon theology/ideology. And, Frances, this is not an “angry Black man” speaking…this is Mormon theology that can be researched, traced and verified. For more info, see [amazon_link id=”0670021261″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years[/amazon_link], pgs. 906-908.

It’s disconcerting that few on the Right – especially Blacks – took no issue with the Mainstream forcing President Obama to refute the Christian Liberation Theology of Rev. Wright, which was the same theology of Dr. King (who Black Republicans love to hail as one of their own), yet we want to silence any who present a similar challenge to the non-Christian Mormon theology. It’s interesting that President Obama was considered ineligible (by some) to stand for the Presidency because he might have been a Muslim, yet faith has no bearing when it comes to Gov. Romney’s (AND Harry Reid’s) Mormonism. And for those who think Mormonism is a “branch” of Christianity, I present Flava Flav: DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!!! If they revere a prophet other than Jesus, they cannot be Christian. Moroni is the Mormon prophet, so they are no more Christian than Muslims (who, like Mormons, also believe Jesus to be a prophet – just not the final prophet).

For a group of people who are against paternalistic politics typically exemplified by Democrats, it’s striking that simply because a White person may have marched for Civil Rights, we are supposed to ignore their paternalistic mores. Many have argued in support of Abolition and Civil Rights without believing Black people to be of equal humanity, i.e. [amazon_link id=”1566195519″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Harriet Beecher Stowe[/amazon_link], among many others. Additionally, many in the GOP would argue that by being in the Democratic Party, Blacks have signed up to support their own demise. So, why does the presence of Blacks in the Mormon faith automatically validate Mormon ideology?

Negroes…we are FREE to use our natural minds! We shouldn’t have to shovel crap any longer. Stature, standing and prestige in the eyes of Whites shouldn’t be of such importance that scholarship, integrity and truth go out the window.  We must be smarter…those who struggled before us fought too hard for freedom, for us to simply cede our intellect to the whims of the Mainstream.

This is not to say that Mormons are bad people.  It is a question of where individual Mormons – especially one running for President of all Americans – stand in their “core values.”  The text from the Second Book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon does wreak of racism.  Mitt Romney was a Bishop and President of the Mormon Church.  Eventhough some may say that position might be misinterpreted, he certainly had the gravitas to make profound statements refuting various doctrine that are degrading to the humanity of individuals.  Yet, no one has yet posed that question and challenged Governor Romney.  Moreover, no statement exists from Mr. Romney, refuting the distancing himself from Mormon Scripture on the issue.  Rather, when speaking with the late Tim Russert, Mitt Romney stated he would not distance himself from his faith.  See the video:

So, for Blacks of good sense – and any person of conscience to simply excuse this connection is puzzling.  Maybe some may not see it important enough to sway their vote.  But, surely Blacks of stature within the Republican Party should be faithful to their Charge they have to Keep, and pose the questions that would make Mr. Romney a more viable (and authentic) candidate for Blacks to consider.  This issue is of critical importance, because it shapes the very way policy will be developed.  And, as we have seen by both Parties through the course of history, even well-intentioned policy has the potential to cause harm if not informed by sound ideology at the foundation.  Certainly, we should have answers that satisfy the questions on this issue rather than dancing around it as if it is of no consequence.  We should not simply be rubber-stamping a Party nominee so we may continue to eat from the trough.

Negroes, We are Free to Use Our Natural Minds…let us use them!  (Part II to come…later this evening)