In the waning days of the 2018 midterm election campaigns, as the Democratic Party struggled to find its voice once again, it deployed its only heavy hitter — “Made Man” Barack Obama. When President Trump and the Republicans began to repeatedly call them a mob, I thought the Dems should embrace the insult. I recommended they adopt the slogan, “Ride with the Mob” and use A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane” as their theme song. For some insane reason, they didn’t listen. Instead, OG Barack (that’s “Original Gangster” for you culturally challenged folk) pushed the line, “The character of our country is on the ballot.”
I still think mine is better. Oh well.
Slogans notwithstanding, the midterms are over. Well, they’re sort of over, in that races rage on in a few places. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams refuses to concede to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp who, in an unadulterated mob move, ran for governor, orchestrated voter purges and ran the election process all at the same time. It isn’t over in a number of Florida races, either, including Andrew Gillum’s attempt to become the Sunshine State’s first black governor. What else is new? Florida hasn’t been able to get elections right since Rutherford B. Hayes ran against Samuel L. Tilden for president way back in 1876.
That said, let’s see what we have thus far.
An argument certainly could be made that as rapacious as the GOP has been, no politician claiming that “set” (that’s a crew, gang, posse) should have garnered a single vote. Well, that wasn’t the case. The “Constitution Avenue DC Bloods” (that’s the Republicans, if you didn’t get that) actually gained seats in the Senate. Of course, the “202 Crips” (Democrats) had reason to celebrate as well (yes, I’m calling both parties gangsters). They gained at least 35 seats and retook the House of Representatives. Democrats are understandably proud of the fact that an impressive crew of women won across the country. Ayanna Pressley became the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Sharice Davids, who is a lesbian, and Debra Haaland of New Mexico, are the first Native-American women to accomplish the same feat. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became the first Muslim women to break the Congressional barrier.
Admittedly, that’s really nice stuff… but it ain’t all good (translation: Everything is not fine, OK, alright, positive or copacetic).
OG Donald Trump came out swinging in the election’s aftermath. He sent good ol’ boy Jeff Sessions to sleep with the fishes before ballot machines cooled. Within a span of a few days, he banned CNN’s Jim Acosta from the White House and went nuclear on three black female journalists. He called a question from CNN’s Abby Phillip “stupid,” described American Urban Radio’s April Ryan as “a loser,” and called a query from PBS News Hour’s Yamiche Alcindor “racist” because she questioned how much love black people have for him. How could she ask such a thing when Kanye West, Jim Brown and many, many other black people go so hard in the paint (enthusiastically) for Trump?
Beyond that, it’s become more and more obvious that all this talk about Trump and the Republicans being anti-woman is overblown. Fake news! How could they be? White women LOVE those guys and are keeping the home fires burning, baby! Remember, 53 percent of white women voted for Trump in 2016. 63 percent of white, Alabama women voters cast ballots for the pedophile Roy Moore in 2017. When white women had the opportunity to help elect the United States’ first black female governor in Georgia this month, they said, “Nah — we’re good.” Seventy-four percent of them threw their lot in with Republican Brian Kemp, a vote-suppressing hustler who may still have ballots hidden underneath his bed. Fifty-one percent of them voted against Andrew Gillum down in math-challenged Florida. The madness doesn’t stop with the ladies. In Illinois’ Third Congressional District, Arthur Jones, an admitted member of the American Nazi Party and holocaust denier, lost… but more than 56,000 Americans actually went out and voted for him. Maybe America is batshit crazy.
Maybe this isn’t about race, gender, religion or any of that other touchy-feely silliness. As the Wu Tang Clan (again, for the culturally-disconnected students, that’s a legendary hip-hop group) once said, maybe it’s all about that C.R.E.A.M. (cash rules everything around me).
Even though New York’s much-celebrated Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been “squirreling away” as much possible, she has so little money that she can’t afford an apartment in Washington D.C. until her congressional salary kicks in. “There are many little ways in which our electoral system isn’t even designed (nor prepared) for working-class people to lead,” she recently said. Maybe that’s the plan.
Across party lines, politicians talk about the 1 percent. As Gomer Pyle said, “Surprise, surprise, surprise” — they are the 1 percent! Did you know that, currently, 35 percent of U.S. House members and 50 percent of senators are millionaires? This is without considering the values of their homes and other key assets, which members of Congress are not required to report. Those are staggering percentages when one takes into account that only 7.4 percent of U.S. households have a net worth of $1 million — a figure that includes their home values. How petty and small we must seem to these titans.
I guess two things are possible here. Maybe America’s racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic dark side is on its deathbed, flailing away in one last, desperate struggle to hold on. Then, again, like 2008, maybe we’re seeing yet another blip, featuring a few tokens that divert us from the real story.
You know what I’m sayin’?
Well, OG Barack — even after ballots have been cast, America’s character is still in question. And that ain’t set-trippin’ (blindly and publicly claiming allegiance to one party, group, crew or gang). •
Dr. Ricky L. Jones is chair of Pan-African Studies at the UofL and host of iHeart Media’s award-winning “Ricky Jones Show with 12 Mr. FTC” radio show and podcast. His next book, co-authored with Marc Murphy, is “Colin, Confederates and Con-Artists.” Visit him at rickyljones.com