Meanderings

Former slave, Frederick Douglas, wrote in a speech given 1880, “The colored people (African Americans – language was a little different in 1880) have no reason to despair.  The fact (is) that we have endured wrongs and hardships that would have destroyed any other race, and have increased in numbers and public consideration, ought to strengthen our faith in ourselves and our future.  The forces against us are passion and prejudice, which are transient and those for us are principles, self-acting, self-sustaining, and permanent.”  {Life and Times of Frederick Douglas – an Autobiography – Crown Publishers}

     What is the point?  It is simple.  The African-American is an integral part of our history and the Obamas are not the only African Americans who will occupy the White House.  It was disappointing to see fewer African-Americans voting than did for Mr. Obama in 2012.  But they are a powerful bastion of voters who will eventually foment change in the electoral system in a permanent and different way.
     European-Americans, or, if that sounds too White, then let’s just call ourselves White, but we did nothing to help ourselves by electing Donald Trump.  It is a temporary fix.  We voted in incredible numbers to use an antiquated system of electing the President, which is called the Electoral College, and we lost the power of the popular vote.  The reason the Fathers voted in the Electoral College was because they thought the average man was too uneducated to elect the U.S. Senators or the President and Vice President.  The Senators they gave to the State Houses of Representatives while the President and Vice President were to be decided by the Electoral College.
     In the Constitution, the Senators were changed to public election in the 17th. Amendment.  The Electoral College has never changed constitutionally.  The Liberal Establishment, of which I count the Press as a unit, decried the voting of the non-college educated voters as being indicative of an inability to vote wisely.  That is what I believe they were saying in certain stations on the television, the radio, and in certain newspapers.  The reason Hillary Clinton lost was because  a plethora of uneducated white voters  voted for Trump.  That is what the Press was saying the night of the election.  This despite his inability to endear himself to women as seen or heard in his ramblings on the bus with Mr. Bush.  Women still voted for him, and the television stations made sure that you knew where they were coming from, which seemed to be from the less educated whites in America.
     I was not rooting for Hillary Clinton.  Our first pick for President should have been a woman with less personal baggage.  Hilllary Clinton did, however, win the popular vote by a large amount, over two million voters according to the press.  Hillary Clinton showed her true stripes fighting against Senator Bernie Sanders.  Now, in all fairness, Clinton should have acquiesed and allowed Sanders to address his hundreds of delegates and allowed him to give them a congratulatory speech.  She did not allow that courtesy and it really showed her real self.  Sanders had won impressive victories over many of our United States.  He deserved the right to speak to his friends.  In retrospect, I wish I had voted for Mr. Sanders.  If I had known that she would lose to a person like Trump, I would have cast the vote, even if it was spitting in the wind.
     The Democratic Party is in no worse shape than the Republican Party eight years ago, when the President and both Houses went Democratic.  We will rectify the situation and right our ship.  It is just a matter of time.  As President Obama said about the Obamacare bill, if Trump is as successful as he says he will be with the bill, Obama will be right there with the rest of us cheering.  But, he does not feel that will actually happen.  And, with the person Trump forwarded for Secretary of Health and Human Services, I doubt there will be much to cheer about.
     Back to Frederick Douglas, Mark Twain has a wonderful story about a former slave who was freed in the Civil War.  It is called “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It.”  It is a slave’s story.  It starts out, “We were sitting on the porch of the farmhouse, on the summit of the hill, and “Aunt Rachel” was sitting  respectfully below our level, on the steps-for she was our servant and colored…she was sixty years old, but her eye was undimmed and her strength unabated.” {The Unabridged Mark Twain;” Running Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania}  It goes on to describe her remembrances of being a slave and how she handled her duties and responsibilities.  At one point she says, “I knows all ’bout slavery ‘case I ben one of ’em my own self.”  She then describes, with Mark Twain emphasizing her accent, what it was like to raise seven children with a good husband, but, of course, he could not be her actual husband, and her seven children were property of the master.  So her life was considerably more difficult than a non-slaves.’
     There is no excuse for the institution of slavery.  Frederick Douglas and “Aunt Rachel” did not deserve to deal with it, be born into it, or be a part of it.  Frederick Douglas went on to become a famous man, while “Aunt Rachel” did to, somewhat because one of her young audience was to become the greatest satirist in  American history.  But neither of them actually needed to take that horrendous step back in our early history.  A friend of mine, really a good person, says of “Black Lives Matter,” “Why don’t white lives matter?”  I try to explain that black lives like Trayvon Martin’s, matter because more black men are being killed by law enforcement from a percentage standpoint than the percentage of white lives.  I would love to say that that line of reasoning works but it does not appear to.
     So, I do not know what works.  I know what I believe and I believe that racism is going to dictate matters of policy in this admnistration.  I am hoping that the basic strengths that Frederick Douglas espouses are true.  I lived for three years in a mixed town, racially.  I live now in a city that is 25% Asian.  I have always wanted the best for my friends, white, African-American, or Asian.  I like to think that I am fair, but, by virtue of my choice of topics tonight, maybe I am not.  Who knows?

     It is important to remember the 13th. Amendment which abolished slavery, and the 15th. Amendment which states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”     That is a good place to stop.