On this Thanksgiving Day let’s give thanks for ‘We the Black People’
OPINION: Although the 2020 election has been over for weeks now, let us not take for granted how Black people handily defeated Donald Trump.
Let’s face it: as we celebrate this season of Thanksgiving 2020, America has just come through a very serious political and electoral crisis. And we are still in the middle of a horrible pandemic health crisis.
For us, as Black people, this year has been exceptionally hard with the culmination of health disparities and COVID-19 taking the lives of so many of our aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and grandparents.
2020 brought us all to the brink. It was, in my opinion, the most serious crisis of circumstances that this republic has faced since the election of 1860.
The election of 1860, of course, pitted Republican Abraham Lincoln against political rival Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas. Lincoln won, which literally was the spark that lit the Civil War. South Carolina seceded from the union and all of the other southern states followed, pitting west point brother against west point brother, north against south, man against man, and once sister states against their fellow siblings.
Although the election of 2020 has been over for weeks now, it has been an intense emotional rollercoaster for us all as outgoing President Donald Trump has refused to concede, or to allow the official transition to begin (the GSA administrator Emily Murphy finally did so this week) and worse subjected us to his vile, untruthful, terrible tweet storms that continually undercut Biden’s victory, calling the election a fraud, rigged and other things that we’ve never seen from an American president.
What’s worse, Trump attacked Black voters in Michigan and Georgia by trying to have their ballots thrown out as invalid.
Is this 2020 or 1960?
Be clear that what we just witnessed my fellow Black Americans was a soft-coup attempt where a sitting U.S. president, who lost the election fair and square refused to accept the loss, and decided to push conspiracy theories, file endless lawsuits, tweet lies, send his press secretary out to tell us lies, and in the process damaged American democracy. Deeply.
Recent polling shows that over 70% of Republican voters believe that the election was stolen from Trump or a fraud. And of Trump’s almost 74 million voters, many of them believe the election was not fair or was somehow fixed for Biden.
But we as a people should be proud because our sisters like Stacey Abrams made the difference this year. They organized, they registered voters, and they helped turn red Georgia blue, guaranteeing a Biden electoral win in the Peach State.
In Lincoln’s day, the nation split literally in half, sparking insurrection. In Trump’s present day, the nation feels split in two both factually and figuratively. Sparked by Trump and his divisive rhetoric, his crazy legal team led by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and false legal theories which were all dismissed in the courts (1 win and 34 losses), Trump’s voters took to the streets of Washington, D.C. after the election in small numbers (it was supposed to be a Million person march) to protest his loss.
Almost all of them white, some wearing confederate flag paraphernalia or “America First” and “MAGA” gear. Shouting. Angry. Aggrieved. This has become the hallmark sign of their movement since day one when Trump descended from the Trump Tower escalator and announced he was running for president in 2015.
As we sit down to give thanks, I will be praying for a nation in trouble. Trump may be on his way out, but exit polls tell a story of a deeply polarized electorate. The Republican Party, my former party once known as the party of Lincoln, all but a handful of elected U.S. Senators stood in silence as the sitting U.S president, Donald Trump, who was defeated in the election handily (President-elect Joe Biden earned 80 million popular votes and 306 Electoral votes) continued to undermine our democracy.
They coddled him, made excuses, engaged, endorsed and supported his authoritarian tactics and antics.
My concern is that those senators and members of Congress who remained silent did so in support of a man clearly unhinged, instead of supporting the U.S. Constitution that they swore an oath to protect. That oath matters. It’s what protects our institutions and safeguards the republic from unvirtuous men, and from those who would seek to make rebellion against the United States.
But bigger than those profiles in cowardice was “we the people.” We. Us. We saved this republic by voting in the largest numbers in 100 years. We voted by mail. We stood in long lines. We dropped off ballots. Students drove home or got on airlines to vote in their hometowns. We voted for America. We voted for civility. Decency. Honor. Integrity. Diversity. And at some point, unity when we can get it together.
So, as we all sit down to our very different Thanksgiving Day 2020 dinners held over Zoom chats with relatives and friends located all over the nation, and eat our Turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie let’s remember not to just give thanks for a gracious God who got us through one of the most difficult and challenging times in over 100 years.
But for each other. For “we the people,” and more specifically we the Black people, quite literally ran a tyrant out of office, and in his place put in a man with a heart of no malice, a heart of forgiveness, a heart that is no stranger to pain, grief and loss, and a man of humility very much like Lincoln: Joseph R. Biden.
Sophia A. Nelson is the award-winning author of “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama.”