November 6, 2018 will be a day of reckoning for President Donald Trump, the GOP, the Democrats and all Americans. The stakes are high, the message clear; will this country continue the stochastic path and experimental theater of Trump’s social division, national isolationism, gutless bullying, right wing cooning and pathological narcissism? Or, will there be a strong message of course correction that Lives Matter: Black ones, immigrant ones, sexually harassed ones, ill ones, and the ones that might not be rich, white and male?
For better or worse, there is no one America, but rather a shifting collection of communities held together by a strange masala of socio-economic-cultural forces, as magical as dark matter itself. With this in mind, and as we approach this important midterm election, we would like to issue some special words of caution, inspiration and a reminder to the following communities in the American family:
Recently there has been some pushback on Michelle Obama’s famous comment “when they go low, we go high.” The frustration of going high and losing prominent liberal allies is real. It is good to go high, but not so high that you lose sight of the ground beneath or too low that you become a political doormat.
The GOP, Trump, the Alt-Right and company play to win, so while the time is always right to identify injustices, there is also a time to build coalition, forge with allies, dialogue with opposing views and keep the eye on the prize. Sometimes you must win over the heart before you can win over the mind. Most importantly, you must not let past defeat and the throws of unfairness produce violent retaliation or passive aggressive behavior like not voting at all. You must vote, else you aid and abet the victory of the other side.
This election is a turning point for American conservatism, if not a comeuppance. Conservatives, will you burn down the Republican Party, which has been taken over by pure evil? Part-hate group, part-cult, the party of Lincoln became the party of dog whistles and race cards before transforming into the party of plunderers, psychopaths, Nazis, terrorist bombers and mass shooters—in White Jesus’ name.
Neither side is to blame for our recent political violence, even though white American men with right-wing extremist ideologies are the biggest threat to our safety. Terrorists come not from Central American caravans, but rather angry, unhinged and armed members of Trump’s cult of personality. Conservatives, your choice is clear—vote for democracy and the rule of law, or Putin’s farm team and Trump’s Brownshirts.
The #MeToo movement and the backlash over Justice Brett Kavanaugh could upend patriarchy — if white women get out of their own way. While Christine Blasey-Ford provided a public service to help liberate people from toxic white masculinity, Senator Susan Collins voted for Kavanaugh, siding with the majority of white women who voted for Trump, and proving herself the devoted slave master’s wife.
White women, will you vote to cede control of your own bodies, and greenlight the snatching and caging of more Black and brown babies? Black women, thank you for going to the polls in record numbers, saving the day in Alabama, and leading the call for change for the midterm election.
Black folks, you are being called upon once again to save this nation from itself out of enlightened self-interest and in honor of those who were lynched so that we may vote. As the cornerstone of America’s conscience, Black people know the stakes are high as the angry white man makes his last stand, and forces minority rule through voter suppression. Before voter ID, African Americans remember the grandfather clauses and literacy tests that made us guess the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. Now, we’re poised to take back the South and make historic change in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Mississippi, in coalition with Latinx, immigrant, Native American, LGBTQ folks and others.
The 1 Percent
The engine of every society, civilization and community centers around trade, commerce and the distribution of power and wealth. So, you, the most wealthy among us, especially those of you who are people of color and women have a distinct responsibility to promote the economic security and access that makes things work fairly.
Division, racial supremacy, sexual predation, conservative immigration are bad for business on many levels.Plus, there is no social justice without economic justice. Please vote with this in mind, and invest in a path of inclusion so that the past does not repeat itself.
This country belongs to you, not later but today. You must vote in record numbers to secure your future. As the Alt-right and conservatives team up to take us backwards, you must lead the coalition to expand the social justice of the past.
The coming decisions about social security, immigration, healthcare and Supreme Court justices will affect your way of life long after Instagram, Snapchat, Tekashi 6ix9ine and the Kardashians have become faded memories. You must embrace this critical moment not only to vote but to actively participate in every level of the election process. So, please vote, pay attention to our political leaders, hold them accountable and be prepared to lead the way.
In the end, the greatest threat to this country is an underused election process and a presidential mandate to normalize white nationalism. If we really want to make America great, we must vote with the memory of the worst of our history and the best of the American spirit in mind.
In the following ever relevant excerpts of his 1957 speech, “Give Us the Ballot,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
“Give us the ballot, and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.
Give us the ballot, and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will do justly and love mercy, and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who will, who have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the Divine.”
We’ve got to heed and extend Dr. King’s message. We can do this by voting critically up and down the ballot to protect the less fortunate, put nature over pollution, and education and healthcare over division and segregation.
While diversity, the democratic process and social justice movements are strong threats to countries where there is civilian hunger for political expansion and freedom of expression, we should never forget it is exactly these things that defines the evolving greatness of this America.
John Sims, a Detroit native, is a multi-media conceptual artist, writer and activist. His creative projects have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Art in America, Science News, Nature and Scientific American. He has written for CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Huffington Post. Follow him at @johnsimsproject.