When the United States Constitution was fully ratified on June 21, 1788, neither white women, black women nor black men were considered full citizens of this nation. In fact black people, free or enslaved, would be considered three-fifths of a human being after the 1857 landmark decision known as the Dred Scott Case by the U.S. Supreme Court. The highest court in the land stated that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into the U.S. and sold as slaves, whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen.”
The current GOP party is overwhelmingly white and specifically male and is becoming more and more reactionary in instilling policy that seeks social control over people’s bodies. It is also allowing itself to be represented in part by its most extremist factions, white supremacists. The GOP is the white man’s party, plain and simple, and they can have it. This is why they need low voter turnout. This is why they pander to the worst of the white nationalist sentiment and why they currently can’t find a candidate who can bring in just a few other people – including white women – to out maneuver the renegade they have now in Donald Trump, who exists solely on the strength of the disaffected white male voter.
There are always points along a continuum where revolutionary and reactionary ideas overlap. This is why we study the science of political and social life. Although some may find points of agreement with so-called conservative values as they may relate to drawing down the military presence overseas or assuring the constitutional protection of civil liberties, we should not be confused into thinking these few nexus points are signals of revolutionary political unity or a sameness in political objectives.
As someone who identifies as a black, Puerto Rican woman, when I read the most current Republican party platform — a platform that supports the death penalty, that does not allow a woman full reproductive choice, that believes that marriage is still only an option for a man and a woman — it’s clear that the party is still supporting backwards, antiquated and dangerous ideas.
After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando this past June, I was shocked at the shameful pandering many Republican elected officials displayed. This party and its faithful have rarely shown through either rhetoric nor policies that the lives of LGBTQIA-identified Americans matter. What they did do was use Islamophobia and their continual support for the NRA to try to get the rest of the county to forget that they had a hand in creating the atmosphere that would allow an American to buy an AR-15 and slaughter Latino (majority Puerto Rican) and African-American queer young people who were in their prime of their lives, freely expressing who they fully were. If the Republican party in any way cared about all people before that night, their platform would simply read human rights for all.
A broken clock may be right twice a day, but that is no sign that it works. I grew up all my life hearing the words of the United States constituting preamble:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Those 39 white men who signed the constitution did not believe this ideal included all the people of this nation, and for the last 228 years the Republican party has continued to exclude “we the people.” That remains the same today.
As one of my favorite rappers and fellow Black Lives Matter leaders from St. Louis, Missouri, Tef Poe, recently said: “Black and brown poor people are already living in Trump’s America.” I would add not just Trump’s America but the America that the Republican party has helped to create. Donald Trump is just its court jester.
Editor’s note: The PBS NewsHour is hosting a series of columns to run during both of the 2016 national political conventions.
Joining the discussion:
- David Biello, science curator for TED Talks and contributing editor for Scientific American wrote “Dirty air and foul water know no borders” and “When will the candidates pay attention to the biggest environmental issue facing America?”
- Karlyn Bowman and Heather Sims from the American Enterprise Institute wrote, “A first female president? Notable but not unexpected”;
- Rosa Clemente of the Green Party and Black Lives Matter on how “The Democratic Party is not what it seems” and “For the GOP, making America great is for the rich, white and male”;
- Shadi Hamid, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of “Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East on ” on “Will left vs. right become a fight over ethnic politics?” and “The thing both conservatives and liberals want but aren’t talking about”;
- Phillip Lohaus, Research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute wrote “The bell of globalization cannot be un-rung”;
- Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist on “Why the Republican Party can’t surrender to its worst impulses” and on how “The Republican Party needs to revisit its first principles”;
- Harold Meyerson of the American Prospect on “Why neither candidate will ever return America to its 1950s prosperity” and “The Democrats must be the party of the 99 percent”;
- Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza wrote “Key to America’s prosperity? Bold economic policies that address racial inequities” and “America once excelled at immigrant integration. Here’s the way back”; and
- April Ponnuru of the Conservative Reform Network on “Why I hope this populist fever in the GOP breaks soon” and “Republicans, it’s time to move beyond the platform of Reagan”.