Bankole: Not all Republicans follow Trump’s lead
I was waiting on Bill Schuette to pivot after the primary to a more unifying and inspiring message that shows he would be a governor for all of Michigan, including vulnerable communities. But he didn’t.
I was waiting on John James to be that voice in the wilderness crying out loud and giving hope to black and other minority communities that are living in fear because of the extreme policies coming out of Washington, D.C. But he did not.
What a missed opportunity.
I was waiting on Lena Epstein to lift us out of the doldrums, the politics of divisiveness, compassionless and mean spiritedness that has become the hallmark of this era. But she didn’t.
All three overtly and passionately Trumpian candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives lost in last Tuesday’s election, and that is instructive. They were channeling President Donald Trump and basically acting like designated envoys of the “Make America Great Again” slogan.
The election was more than a referendum on the governing policies of this dispensation. It was a powerful moral verdict on reprobate politics that appears to have held the soul of the nation captive in the last two years. It was also an outright rejection of gutter politics that appeals more to our demons than our better angels.
Months leading up to the election, many people were sharing on social media how they were fervently praying for the soul of the nation. Others believed that we are better than submitting to what former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell once called “the dark vein of intolerance” inside his own Republican Party.
A prominent member of the Jewish community in Southeast Michigan lamented to me days after the election, that while he was greatly relieved with the results of the midterm, he was hoping that some Republicans would have stood up and firmly rebuke the politics of divisiveness. That at least some in the ranks of the party’s leadership, would have been courageous enough to speak out against those who were using the politics of fear and racism to drive their own personal political ambitions.
But thankfully, not all Republicans went along. Among them is the outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder. He would not eat at the table of Trumpism, where the menu is a mix of all the things that are antithetical to a vibrant and ethnically diverse nation. Snyder refused to be a guest in the house of fear because he was a decent and conscientious man.
Despite the many times that I’ve criticized Snyder and his administration, including dropping the ball on Flint, he did not play to the politics that branded the media as the enemy of the people. It never stopped him from reaching out and engaging myself and others in the press in important conversations.
When I invited him over to my home three years ago to speak at a leadership forum with people of all political persuasions including his own critics, he never hesitated to accept my invitation. I recalled him walking into the house that Saturday evening almost limping because he had just gotten out of surgery, which would have been a convenient excuse for a politician to skip the event. He didn’t. He stayed for the entire forum and took questions no matter how uncomfortable some of the questions seemed. That’s a lesson in urbane and conscientious politics and governance.
Schuette, James and Epstein could have made the same choice that Snyder made as it relates to decency in political discourse, which contradicts Trumpism.
Instead, James and Epstein were palling around on the campaign trail with singer Ted Nugent who has a history of alleged anti-Semitic and racist rants. Epstein called Nugent a “great American” on Facebook while the singer also called James his “blood brother.”
In fact, Nugent’s response to Tuesday’s election in Michigan was to refer to the state as the “California s***hole.”
Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer was correct in her victory night remarks to tout building bridges instead of building walls.
The results of last week’s election should remind all of us of what former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy said.
“It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance,” Kennedy admonished.
Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at noon weekdays on Superstation 910AM.