NO GOING BACK
It is not unfair to say that President-elect Joe Biden misappropriated the moral authority of the progressive movement in America to win the White House.
The voters who joined forces to rid our nation of a vile cancer symptomatic of our body politic being riddled with the disease of white supremacy were not harmonious in their vision for America’s future. Self-identified moderates and conservatives who were sick of Trump were content to vote to re-set the country on its slow track to a community for the common good. Progressives, on the other hand, still seek to cure the nation of the illness of white supremacy and push forward with all deliberate speed towards a society that values all human life as well as the planet on which we live.
While progressives, moderates and some conservatives made common cause to save this nation, progressives must stay true to their values.
During the campaign, Biden paid lip service to some progressive ideas in order to garner enough votes to defeat the mad king of Trumpland and end his reign of bigotry and hatred. But since the election, Biden’s conservative slip has been showing, metaphorically, and he has ceased to be as meticulous about appearing to be someone who wants to move the country forward. “Just plain Joe” wants to take us back to the way things were before Trump. But the way things were before Trump is what led to Trump in the first place. Trump did not create Trump’s America. He just recognized that this country is filthy with his kind of people and exploited that fact. Going back to the way things were will deliver us into the hands of another Trump in very short order.
We must recognize the fact that a huge portion of America pines for a “Leave It to Beaver” version of a country where June Cleaver vacuums the house in her pearls and high heels while dinner is in the oven in anticipation of the arrival of the master of the house. But viewers of this American fantasy would be hard-pressed to recall seeing a Black person or an Asian or a Native American on that program, let alone a Muslim or someone with physical or mental disabilities.
Too many white Americans are wrapped in a comfortable gauze of white exceptionalism and exclusivity and must push out of their privileged cocoons if they are to enter into the warm, life-giving sunlight that is our global humanity. Their avaricious hoarding of the world’s resources to the detriment of all others harms us as a people within the larger community. “America First” has never meant anything other than “We will do whatever it takes to get what we want and whatever is left over can be shared by the rest.”
We must not go back to the way things were. We must not go back to our painful past where police murders of people of color went unnoticed by public officials and news media.
We must not go back to a time when abusive behavior towards women and sexual assaults were normalized as unfortunate embarrassments that are the price of patriarchy.
We must push forward to an era where Black and brown crime is not viewed as deserving of more punishment than white crime. We must go forward to an America where politicians do not equate justice movements with hate groups and argue that they should be treated in the same manner.
Joe Biden will become president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2021, and as citizens and residents we must do everything we can to help him move the nation forward. But we also must do all we can to prevent him from taking us back to where we do not want to go.
It will not be easy to cure this nation of its ills. The majority of white voters voted for Trump in 2020 knowing him to be a racist, xenophobic bigot. But, as people of color, we have allies in millions of right-thinking white Americans who know what this country can be. And together we can provide the cure.
We need progressive politicians if we are to make progress. We need progressive candidates if we are to have progressive politicians. And we must think progressively and proactively if we are to find, promote and elect progressive candidates.
Moving America forward is not in the hands of any politician. It is in the hands of the American voters, the American people – the people who look back at us in our mirrors.
Oscar H. Blayton is a former Marine Corps combat pilot and human rights activist who practices law in Virginia.