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MUHAMMAD: Can America Be Great Again?

I’ve had to rethink my guarantee that Donald Trump will never be president of the United States because he will never win the Republican nomination. I still don’t believe the GOP leadership is so suicidal that it will allow an unreconstructed fascist like The Donald to lead its party into the 2016 presidential race, but now I just don’t know.

I also don’t think that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — as much as I appreciate his principled, progressive views — will ever be president or win the Democratic nomination. Bernie is a self-described “socialist” in what is becoming more and more a right-wing nation. The idea of a socialist president is even more unlikely in my mind than that of a modified Klansman like Trump.

What has changed everything in Trump’s favor is the stunning success of president Barack Obama, the first Black president.

Had this president been a clown rather than a scandal-free, handsome cavalier with a stunningly beautiful wife and two charming, apparently well-behaved daughters, then White folks would feel less insecure. But not only did the president not shame himself and his people during his first seven years in office, but he has also had success after success, from diplomatic breakthroughs with Cuba and Iran to saving the economy from the Great Recession and delivering affordable health insurance to 17 million people.

All of the Obama successes are measures the country desperately needed, and many of his victories have been at the cost of implementing ideas first put forward by Republicans, but because this Black Dude got it done, the race-haters in Congress and in the Republican presidential contest can’t wait to get in office to begin undoing what Obama did and thus make America … different.

But way back on Sept. 25, 1883, Frederick Douglass explained why White politicians literally hate the successful, “squeaky clean” Black man. “Though the colored man is no longer subject to barter and sale, he is surrounded by an adverse settlement which fetters all his movements,” Douglass wrote. “In his downward course he meets with no resistance, but his course upward is resented and resisted at every step of his progress.

“If he comes in ignorance, rags and wretchedness he conforms to the popular belief of his character, and in that character he is welcome; but if he shall come as a gentleman, a scholar and a statesman, he is hailed as a contradiction to the national faith concerning his race, and his coming is resented as impudence. In one case he may provoke contempt and derision, but in the other he is an affront to pride and provokes malice.”

Unfortunately, the “great again” slogan is a delusional myth. What these guys really want is to go back to a time when “if you’re White you’re right, and if you’re Black get back.”

What is delusional is the way these White folks in the GOP deny the science of the changing demographics. The White population is declining as a proportion of the total population, which means there is a smaller percentage of White voters today than there was in 2012 and 2014. Barack Obama won two landslide presidential elections with 95 percent of the Black vote and 70 percent of the Latino and Asian vote but only 35 percent of the White vote. So far, the race-baiting, Republicans have done everything to alienate those non-White constituencies, going “all-in” on the angry White male rhetoric.

So a Donald Trump candidacy can count on that 65 percent of White voters in the general election, but very few Black or Latinos will cross over to vote for Trump. It may be possible to win the Republican nomination on the wave of White anger and dissatisfaction, but it will be hard to win the general election with those numbers alone.

In their view, America was “great” when Black lives were expendable and when the totally out-of-proportion rate of Blacks who are incarcerated was okay.

Sadly, middle-class White folks who have been blinded by their hatred of Blacks and Latinos and Muslims have allowed themselves to be corralled by the super-rich who have snookered them into supporting political candidates who will destroy Social Security, dismantle the public schools, and deregulate the behavior of the wealthy, all outcomes that are not in the interest of anyone except the rich guys.

How can America be great when folks can’t feel the pain of parents in Cleveland who see 12-year-old Tamir Rice murdered by a cop two seconds after he pulls up on him in a playground? How can those same people excuse a two-week armed occupation of a federal facility in Oregon by White anti-government terrorists who come and go as they please, defying arrest and then look the other way when unarmed Black folks are murdered at the drop of a hat? What is great about a country like that?

Sorry, Trump. You may “win,” but your slogan is unattainable.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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