Bankole: Bishop should let voters question Trump

Bankole Thompson
The Detroit News

When Bishop Wayne Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International in Detroit welcomes Donald Trump to his church on Saturday for a live television interview, the discussion should be open to questions from Detroiters.

Though Jackson has insisted the Saturday interview on the Impact Television Network is not a rally or an endorsement of the Republican nominee for president, Trump should take questions from Jackson’s church members and other concerned voters.

The pastor’s plan of having congregation members watch the candidate interviewed by their bishop without their participation is an insult to the intelligence of those congregants and the larger community, and will leave many wondering if the interview is nothing but an attempt to garner some viewership for Jackson’s network.

Because no matter how disdainful Trump may appear to be in diverse constituencies because of his earlier condescending remarks about certain groups, the reality TV star is the hottest political commodity on television right now.

Jackson has the right to open his church to Trump. No one political party should enjoy a monopoly over the black vote. While Hillary Clinton is the favored candidate to win the black vote, she still owes an explanation about her husband’s 1996 welfare reform bill that has led to more extreme poverty among blacks. She still has not offered an anti-poverty plan.

That is why making candidates of different political persuasions available to voters is an important civic duty.

But unfortunately the Trump-Jackson engagement this weekend does not seem to be a civic education exercise designed to illuminate issues important to the well-being of blacks. It is a desperate attempt by a candidate who is poised to lose badly in the black community and now wants to stop or slow his downward spiral among African Americans.

The Jackson event would only have some measure of credibility if voters are the focus of the engagement and can present Trump with questions in a setting without any filters. Their questions would shed light into whether Trump has an educated understanding of the dire issues facing urban cities, beyond the reiteration of the policies and views he has spelled out on the campaign trail.

That shouldn’t be a difficult proposition.

If Trump wants the black vote, he should be comfortable to answer questions about why he led the “birther” movement that was an attempt to humiliate President Barack Obama by raising questions about his legitimacy to hold office and his educational background.

If Trump believes he can keep inner cities safe as he claimed recently at a rally, the forum should allow Detroiters to ask the candidate why he gave a “law and order” speech seeking to appeal to black voters before an exclusive white audience in Wisconsin.

There are many unanswered questions that Trump should field from black voters and Jackson should provide that rare opportunity for Detroiters to do the cross examination themselves.

Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910 AM Wednesdays and Fridays. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.