Bishop T.D. Jakes on America’s leadership: ‘We’ve had so much drama’
EXCLUSIVE: During theGrio's 'Vote For Your Life' series, the spiritual leader urges the importance to vote on Nov. 3.
During Sunday’s installment of theGrio’s weekly Vote For Your Life panel, Bishop T.D. Jakes was featured alongside Charlamagne Tha God, April Ryan, Byron Allen and Common to discuss the importance for Black Americans to vote in the forthcoming election on Nov. 3.
As the group went over the power of the African-American vote, voter suppression and holding public officials accountable for their actions, the pastor of The Potter’s House spoke candidly on what he feels is the linchpin for success: Leadership.
Bishop Jakes used the first presidential debate last Tuesday, Sept. 29, between President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden as an example of what he called “the death of leadership.”
“What happened on that stage that night was a picture of what’s been happening in this country for the last few years,” Bishop Jakes told host and theGrio’s VP of Digital Content Natasha S. Alford. “We have been at each other’s throat and it just epitomized where our country is right now.”
Jakes was speaking of the various crises that have plagued the nation this year, from Black Lives Matter protests spawned from the deaths of police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the numerous setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic, and the overarching political division in the United States.
As a result, Bishop Jakes says the voters must recognize what true leadership is and isn’t in order to allow it into their consciousness, saying that citizens have to be open to voting “across parties” to achieve progress.
“I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I am going to tell you what good leadership looks like,” Bishop Jakes stated.
Good leadership has class, it has respect, it has order in its ranks. It gets things done. It minimizes drama. We have had so much drama. Everyday, there has been so much drama. It’s going to take years to work through this post-traumatic stress disorder when you look at the deaths, when you look at the virus, when you look at the unrest, when you look at the political unrest.”
As a spiritual leader, Bishop Jakes has seen firsthand the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on families — from deaths, imploding marriages to economic hardships.
“As a pastor, I’m on ground level zero. We are the people who bury the dead, we are the people who get the calls in the middle of the night of people screaming. We are the people who are there in the cemeteries. We are there when people stop by on their way to the divorce court. Believe me, the trauma that’s going on in this country right now, irrespective of race, is so dynamic.”
Bishop Jakes continued by also implicating what poor leadership in government will lead to on an international front. He’s noticed that America has been lacking in important categories, despite its reputation for being the best country in the world.
“When I got to other parts of the world, I realize how far behind we are slipping,” Bishop Jakes explained, stating that places like Dubai have lapped the U.S. in technology and other countries are more progressive in schooling and health care.
“America likes to tout that they’re ahead; listen, we are not ahead,” Bishop Jakes said.
“In the education system, we’re only 25 across the world. We are not ahead. Economically, we’re in debt up to our ears. We are not ahead. We couldn’t even come up with our own ventilators. We are not ahead.”
Furthermore, the pastor wanted viewers to be aware that America is being watched all over the world and that it’s lack of leadership is going to put it in further danger, stating that “our enemies are listening.” He feels that Black voters need to look beyond domestic issues, as a result.
“We have international enemies that will wipe out the whole domestic discussion. It won’t be about police brutality, it won’t be about anything else. They will take the whole thing away from us,” Bishop Jakes warned. “An enemy looks for an opening and bad leadership leaves openings, it creates chaos, it spurs confusion and it appeals to the worst in humanity better than the best in humanity.”
Despite this, Bishop Jakes is still hopeful for the future of the nation and Black voters, as long as good leadership is clearly defined among the people. “I think that there is hope. I think that there definitely is hope. But I think that the soul of America is at stake right now,” he said.
“I think we need to define what good leadership looks like, because some of us didn’t see it in our home, some of us didn’t see it in our school, and we don’t know what good leadership looks like. So, we pick people by silly stuff. We pick people because they look nice, we pick people because they sound nice. Look at how they lead, how they organize their people.”
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!