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Staying on right side of history

by David W. Marshall
David W. Marshall

TriceEdneyWire.com — I know I am not alone when I say I never heard of Mike Johnson before he became the 56th Speaker of the House. After learning how the hardline conservative from Louisiana opposed the certification of the 2020 elections, I saw him as just another rubber stamp who is afraid to stand up to Donald Trump.

As House Speaker, the staunch Trump supporter followed the example of his predecessor in becoming an enabler to the former president. In what would have been the first major overhaul of asylum and immigration law in a generation, President Biden had agreed with many of the Republican demands in the most conservative immigration bill in years. Ultimately, Speaker Johnson fell in line with Trump and his allies in the effort to kill the bipartisan border security package. Johnson stated the Senate deal would be “dead on arrival” in the House.

As a result, the president was denied a win on an issue Trump plans to use in the 2024 campaign. Thanks to Johnson and other MAGA lawmakers, Trump is free to effectively center his presidential campaign around the ‘Biden’s border crisis.’ Whether you like him or not, Trump is in control of the Republican Party. He knows exactly what he is doing. In following the examples of racial politics from George Wallace, Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater, Trump took matters to a higher level in his remaking of the Republican Party. Trump recognized the dynamics behind the Southern Strategy from the 1960s. He rose to power in rallying political support among White voters by exploiting their fears and prejudices toward people of color.

Despite being from New York City, the real estate mogul understands the mindset of the rural White working-class voter, and how to effectively press the race button. He fed them the ‘birther’ issue, which targeted the first president of color. He gave them ‘The Wall’ to appease their anxiety against southern immigrants. Trump understands their passion for guns and the Constitution while becoming their 2nd Amendment champion. In doing so, he is selective with the Constitution by rejecting the 14th Amendment which authorizes the government to punish states that abridge citizens’ right to vote. He understands how to press the pro-life button with White evangelicals by giving them their conservative judges concerning the issue of abortion.

At the same time, Trump and many of his Christian followers often reject the Biblical mandate to defend and speak up for the poor, oppressed, needy, the fatherless and the alien (immigrants). He understands the passion of the GOP establishment by giving them their tax cuts while rejecting the ideas of fiscal responsibility by means of everyone paying their fair share. By pressing the right buttons with his political base, he quickly developed a cult-like devotion from his fans. The former president once said that his supporters are so loyal that he would not lose backers even if he were to shoot someone in the middle of downtownManhattan: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lost any voters, okay?” Trump said this at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa.

This deep devotion from his political base of supporters has become a political weapon used by Trump to intimidate and manipulate any GOP lawmaker on the local, state and federal level who refuses to submit to his wishes. Trump knows the majority of the Republican establishment is afraid of him, and the RINO (Republican in Name Only) label he uses as ‘red meat’ for his passionate base of supporters. The lack of political courage by Republicans, along with the willingness to keep Democrats from power at any cost, has allowed Trump to do whatever he wants despite his long trail of corruption.

In May 2022, the House passed a $40 billion emergency funding bill for Ukraine. Mike Johnson, the little-known conservative from Louisiana was one of the 57 Republicans who voted to oppose the funding. Six months later, the unlikely House Speaker had a ‘Mike Pence moment’ by pushing through a $95 billion funding package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. In a demonstration of political courage and legislative skills, the speaker put his own job at risk by doing the right things at the right time. It was a major rebuke to Trump who has often criticized Ukraine while he repeatedly sympathized with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Johnson also ignored the angry threats from hard-right Republicans who previously threatened his job as Speaker.

“Look, history judges us for what we do,” Johnson said. “This is a critical time right now, critical time on the world stage. I could make a selfish decision and do something that’s different, but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing.” Unlike so many in the House and Senate, Johnson had a moment where he followed his conscience despite the noise from the MAGA-wing.

Now we see another Trump enabler who is making noise. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), in a recent interview, suggested Donald Trump’s being charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying documents to cover up payments to porn star Stormy Daniels is on par with a Black person being judged in court by the color of their skin. Scott is the Senate’s lone Black Republican and is on a shortlist of possible Trump running mates. Hopefully, the day will come where he self-reflects on his self-serving statements. It is an insult to compare the years of injustice suffered by Blacks at the hands of law enforcement and the judicial process to a wealthy former president. In the line with other Trump enablers (Mike Pence and Mike Johnson), Scott can eventually choose to evolve and decide to be on the right side of history.

(David W. Marshall is the founder of the faith-based organization, TRB: The Reconciled Body, and author of the book God Bless Our Divided America.)

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