"However, as I consider the political landscape of our nation, I believe that this race (and races like it) will only cause the American divide to get worse."
Warning: This is an opinion piece. And (in all honesty) a rather long one, so hold on tight.
Today, I’d like to talk about politics. Now, before you leave me, please allow me to inform you that I’m not attempting to take sides, nor am I compelling you to. In other words, there will be no pro left or pro right talk today. Therefore, you can actually read and let your guard down.
However, consider that statement for a moment. Consider the way I had to preface it. Our discussions, as citizens, about our elected leaders have become so cantankerous, so divisive, that we believe they are worthy of preliminary statements of ease, even before discourse.
And why is that? We can talk sports. We can talk occupations, we can even talk hometowns. However, politics… that’s our gap in the armor.
And still, why do you think that is?
After investing a whopping $23 million into the campaign of Democratic hopeful Jon Ossoff, the left was handed a seemingly unexpected loss, when Republican Karen Handel defeated him, in their race for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. This victory served as a boost for the GOP and it aided them in maintaining their congressional majority.
Many are shocked by the GOP win; however, I’m not so sure why. After all, Georgia's 6th district has been Republican since 1979. In addition, there are more per capita Republicans in the 6th than there are Democrats.
Nonetheless, this was still pegged to be a high-stakes special election, in the midst of what many had reported to be a troubled, Donald Trump era.
Typically, I strive to remain as positive as I can be. I strive to look at all things with at least a glimmer of hope. However, as I consider the political landscape of our nation, I believe that this race (and races like it) will only cause the American divide to get worse.
Let me explain.
If we’re honest, these days one of the only things united about these states is the name. Whether you’re a part of the problem or the solution, it still doesn’t change the reality; division unfortunately reigns. Surely, it’s reign isn’t completely; nonetheless, it is significant.
It’s black vs. white. Liberal vs. conservative. LGBTQ vs. the right. NRA vs. the left. Terrorist vs. the nation. Female salaries vs. traditional male salaries. And on, and on, and on.
However, here’s a question. As you ponder over all of this division; ask yourself, who do you believe is responsible for leading our nation towards it’s much needed mending?
Well, many would say our leaders. And I would say, correct. But here’s the crazy part; the selecting of our leaders, proves to be one of the most divisive components of our resolve. Thus, the leader who was supposed to bring us together, is actually (in most cases) set in place on the foundation of separation!
In Genesis, chapter 13, Abram and Lot are depicted as owners of a great and wealthy amount of cattle. The herdsmen who had been placed in charge of the care of the cattle, entered into conflict over the grazing land. The contention was real: Abram’s herdsman vs. Lot’s. However, when things started to get out of hand, verse 8 says this: “Finally Abram said to Lot, "Let's not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives!”(NLT)
I love how after this statement; the Bible depicts that the conflict was deemed over. No more fussing, no more fighting. Abram stood up, spoke up, and put an end to the matter.
Fact: these herdsmen were human. Therefore, they had to still feel some residual effects of anger concerning their former encounter. However, none of that mattered. Why you ask? Because a leader stood, in the midst of great division, and voiced peace. He voiced a ceasefire. He voiced goodwill. In a volatile and angry climate, he stood for a truce and his stance was obeyed.
However, Abram didn’t even stop there. In fact, the Bible records that he went on to greater heights of the “high-road” in verses 8 & 9:
“(8) Finally Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not allow this conflict to come between us or our herdsmen. After all, we are close relatives! (9) The whole countryside is open to you. Take your choice of any section of the land you want, and we will separate. If you want the land to the left, then I’ll take the land on the right. If you prefer the land on the right, then I’ll go to the left.”(NLT)
Consider what you just read.
Abram reflected and when he concluded, he believed that the harmony of the people, far outweighed his preference of the land. As a good leader, he was willing to forego the best of the ground to ensure the favor and settlement of the people.
BusinessInsider.com reports that this race, this Georgia 6th District race “…was the most expensive House race in US history. It pulled in more than $50 million, and both Democrats and Republicans billed it as the first major referendum on Trump's presidency…”
$50 million. $50 million!! A massive amount of money spent on nasty attack ads, political accusations, party generalizations, and smear campaigns. $50 million.
Oh, and let’s be clear. Not one penny of all that money was spent on trying to sway the candidates or their volunteer/hired teams. Fact is, they both knew they’d never vote for their opponent, even if the left’s candidate was allowed to vote. No, every bit of the money spent, money that could have made a REAL difference, was instead ALL DEDICATED, to further the political divide of an already divided community and nation.
The ads had one objective: convince members of the 6th district to pick me and not trust them. People are shocked by the win, because the ads were so raw, so compelling, so contentious that the community (which is majority Republican) was so seemingly, evenly divided, that the race appeared to be a toss-up. These ads, this campaign, these tactics were… effective.
$50 million. All spent to pit the 6th against each other. All spent to essentially add fuel to the fire.
I’ll tell you what this $50 million would have looked like in our passage. Imagine Abram coming out of his tent and seeing his people and Lot’s people fighting over the land. So, what does he do? He takes 1,000 pieces of gold and invests it into professional instigators. People who’ve been contractually obligated to not only divide the people, but to compel them to further distrust the other. After one, group defeats the other. He would then stand and talk about how he would lead the victorious and battered group in to a “much-needed moment of unity.”
At least, (in very rare cases) until next election.
On April 3, 1964, human rights activist Malcolm X gave a speech at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland, OH entitled “The Ballot or the Bullet.” During this speech, “Malcolm advised African Americans to judiciously exercise their right to vote, but he cautioned that if the government continued to prevent African Americans from attaining full equality, it might be necessary for them to take up arms.”(Wikipedia.org) In other words, in a time of such grotesque racial injustice, he desired for the election to help. But, if it didn’t, (and I’m confident that he doubted it would) he urged them to literally fight for equality.
However, here’s the crazy part. In these divided, United States of America, in this year of 2017, it seems as if “The Ballot has become the Bullet.” Vicious campaigns have taken the very thing that was supposed to help us, and fashioned it in a way that seems to further harm us.
Or, maybe it’s never been designed to help at all.
My Reflection: Be a student of politics; however, never a slave to politics. Be conscious of your mind. Refuse to allow the election process, to cause you to hate your brother.
Your thoughts? Inspired? Upset? Agree? Disagree? Let me know below. Peace and love family.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.
Kevin D. Jones, Sr.