S. E. Williams
Contributor

The Last Guard Rail

Jul 28, 2020 | Government

We knew he was unqualified for office before he was ever sworn in as president. After all, he was a carnival barker with money and little else that qualified him for the position.

Many never doubted the sinister direction President Trump seemed compelled to move this country, yet despite the “still small voices” in the minds of some whispering “beware.” Most stayed cautiously optimistic as they placed hope in a system of government with checks and balances believing established institutions of government would operate as a fail-safe, keeping him from venturing too far from established norms.

So, we continued living our lives and moving forward, ignoring his irrational and harmful actions and antics, hoping with confidence (due to established guard rails), this too would pass.

But, as the hours ticked away and days turned to weeks and then to months and dragged on to years, it became impossible to cling to this white-washed delusion.

Now, those who can no longer abide by his leadership have one remaining hope to put an end to his reign of terror and destruction—the November 3, 2020 Election. Yet, the president has made it abundantly clear he is willing to defy the outcome of the 2020 Election most probably based on a single consideration: whether or not he wins or loses.

With that in mind, now more than ever before Americans need to raise their voices as individuals and communities. One of the ways to do so is to also speak through our locally elected officials. After all, political experts remind us repeatedly that, “all politics are local.”

There are many elected and appointed officials here in the inland region—we all know who they are—who support this president in all his racist, sexist and maniacal efforts to undermine the nation’s democracy as he does everything in his power to  perpetuate and uphold the long-embedded infrastructure of systemic and institutional racism.

I say we know who they are because some do not mind showing us their true colors; yet, there are many others not as easily distinguishable because they come in sheep’s clothing, so to speak.

To pretend such ideology is confined to the boundaries of Washington, D.C. would be to blind ourselves to the president’s enablers in our own region. They are hidden in plain sight and although they are not constantly in the media echoing White nationalists’ sentiments that does not mean they do not share them or willingly abide by them.

We have seen glimmers of this in recent months (and years) with a racist slip of the tongue by a city council member here, a racially charged and inappropriate Facebook post or Twitter comment by an investigator/police officer/sheriff deputy there, an impatient comment by as school board member over there, and so forth. These outbursts are usually followed by soft pedaled apologies or marbled-mouth explanations about possible misunderstandings.

Such blatant slip-ups have angered members of local communities with good conscience, and in some ways they have also created cover for those who share their sentiments but remain silent.

I am talking about the locally elected and/or appointed officials who use a combination of masterfully coded language and racist slights packaged as constructive criticism and soft support for change. I’m referring to those who argue, ‘hey my position is nonpartisan so my political affiliation does not matter.’

The truth is however, that it does.

I am talking about police agencies overseeing communities of color but whose officers/deputies do not live in the area and have nothing invested other than the hours they put in to draw a paycheck and possibly their favorite donut shop. Often, these officers are paid much more than citizens earn in many of  the communities whose taxes go to pay their salaries.

I’m talking about officers who belong to police unions who will not lift a finger to push for equity in promotional opportunities for minorities and women in the various police agencies/sheriff departments they represent but will pull out all the stops to represent and/or cover-up for a guilty police officer who brutalizes or kills these same Black and Brown people under the color of authority.

It is time this community challenges those who figuratively dress in red; who echo the president’s racist attitudes behind closed doors; who believe all immigrants are murders and rapists and all Black people are thugs; who believe people do not have a right to universal health care even during a time of unprecedented health crisis; who support separating children from their parent(s); who think people should be cut off of food assistance even as unemployment climbs.

This includes local officials who are not pressing their party leaders in Washington, D.C. to advocate for rent relief and/or faster processing of COVID-19 test results; who waited until hospitals filled up and the virus was out of control before reversing course on a wrong-headed decision to reopen the area too soon.

It is easy to have an “R” behind your name in local government as long as no one asks you to state your position on controversial issues; but your position is exactly what we need to know because your very existence as an elected or appointed official who happens to be Republican gives approval to the president’s worst tendencies and is a silent affirmation of his leadership and ideology.

Where do you stand on these issues? The community has a right to know. It is time we ask you and for you to answer in the light of day and at every opportunity. We have a right to know what we are dealing with locally.

I know we live in a world of duality but you cannot wear a MAGA cap, wave a “don’t tread on me” flag and then expect us to believe you can leave your ideology at the door and fairly represent a majority minority community—your decisions impact our lives.

How do I trust you to make equitable decisions about my child’s education; whether or not you will promote a qualified Black or Brown person (more than one or two) to a position of authority within your police/sheriff agency; appoint them to lead city or county agencies; whether you will insist on continuing to overfund and militarize police agencies and underfund community programs or whether you will aggressively seek to strike a balance; whether you will call your party leaders in Washington, D.C. and advocate on behalf of the regions unemployed, renter’s, home owners, sick and dying?

I am asking the Republican elected officials in this region to let us know whether you support the president’s lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act even as your constituents are dying from COVID-19? Will you demand more funding for food subsidies as your constituents, unemployed due to COVID-19, struggle to put food on the table for themselves and their families?

Will you advocate for additional funding to protect the lives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people who are dying disproportionately from the coronavirus? Will you lead the push for equity on all the other issues which produced the disparities we live with today? If the president decides to deploy his personal military “goon squad” to this region, will you advocate against it?

Every time I strain my listening ear waiting for local Republicans to speak out against this president… I hear crickets! Again, their silence speaks volumes.

I have little doubt Trump and his minions have their eyes on the Republican Party in the inland region and the State of California as a whole due to its financial significance to the country and for the sheer size of its geography and population. News flash President Trump: so do we.

For those who do not think these are dangerous days, who do not imagine Trump is hurtling this nation toward fascism, educate yourself. You can begin by reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and end with a review of transcripts from the Nuremberg trials that followed.

I am not an alarmist. I am a realist. And yes, despite the president’s best efforts to the contrary, I believe my lying eyes.

As we hold our local leaders to account regarding where they stand on these important issues we must simultaneously prepare to reach for the last guard rail of democracy—the November 3, 2020 ballot.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

Subscribe

Share This