“You focus too much on Trump and racism, there are other important issues too, discuss those instead.”
“You need to stop fear-mongering about Trump.”
“Your girl lost the election, get over it and move on.”
For the purpose of this essay, in order to get to the issues at hand, I’ll ignore for the moment that the people telling me that my girl lost must have missed all my posts proving that Secretary Clinton was not “my girl,” in any way; that the people telling me to move on are the ones that spent 8 years screaming about birth certificates and emails and supported over 60 failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and are often sporting the battle flag of a defunct enemy of the state that was defeated in Civil War over 150 years ago; that the people telling me not to “fear-monger” are the ones supporting the NRA’s incessant “They’re coming for all your guns” nonsense for decades now.
Instead, I’ll address three points:
Is there anything more important right now to discuss than the incoming Presidential administration and its influence on Civil Rights?
Is it fear-mongering to point out verifiable facts?
Should we move on, without discussing these issues further?
To begin to address these questions, we have to start with the fact that the only reason Trump was able to win the electoral college delegates despite a steadily increasing loss in the populace vote, assuming there are not enough faithless electors willing to prevent his ascension to the Oval Office, is a direct result of the fact that the GOP has spent the last 20 years — much more aggressively over the last eight — working at both the national and state level to gerrymander voting districts and dismantle the Voting Rights Act protections.
“As bad as it was after Shelby and in this election, at least we had a Civil Rights Division which took these concerns somewhat seriously,” said Scott Simpson, the director of media and campaigns for the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “And we don’t know what we’re going to get under Sessions. But we can look at his record, and his record bodes very poorly for the future of voting rights in this country.”
“Shelby” is Shelby County v. Holder, the June 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of 1965 Voting Rights Act used to determine which voting jurisdictions would have to pre-clear any changes to voting procedures or laws with the US Department of Justice or a federal court. Without it, nine states and parts of six others with a history of racial discrimination related to voting were allowed to make changes as they saw fit. “The election, at least for communities of color, started in June 2013,” Simpson says. “The Shelby decision is when this election began for people of color.”
Throughout the campaign Donald Trump screamed about a rigged election, laying the groundwork for his recent tweet about winning despite millions of illegal votes being cast, a claim he cannot prove, but easily proven false. And the implications of this lie are important, as discussed by the New York Times:
In addition to insulting law-abiding voters everywhere, these lies about fraud threaten the foundations of American democracy. They have provided the justification for state voter-suppression laws around the country, and they could give the Trump administration a pretext to roll back voting rights on a national scale.
In the wake of the announcement of his win, despite losing on election day, the following weeks would see hundreds of hate crimes reported by followers inspired by his fear-mongering, hateful rhetoric against non-white and/or non-Christian citizens.
Of course, the President-Elect, after much prompting, issued a weak statement condemning the violence of his exuberantly passionate supporters, but, to use his own terminology, he only did so because it was visually important to do so, while still using the rhetoric that incited them in the first place.
Then if there was any doubt about his intentions for the future of civil rights, or his intentions to enable further acts of overt racism, he began to announce his selections for the Presidential Cabinet positions, including people like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions.
He then continued assembling a list of appointees to his Cabinet. There appear to be two criteria for such an appointment:
A willingness to differ utterly to the whim of the President-Elect.
A history of at least a few years worth of words and actions demonstrating the intent to undermine, discredit, dismantle, and ultimately privatize the division to which they will be appointed to lead. A clear and obvious example being Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.