The Dilemma of "Trumpsplaining"

Unlike many political observers, I have spent the bulk of this campaign season focused not on Donald Trump, the leading candidate for the Republican Party nomination for president, but on the people who are supporting him, seeking to understand what is motivating them to essentially turn the political establishment, especially the Republican Party, on its head.

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Of Poverty, Privilege and Politics

An exchange in yesterday's Democratic Party presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan is generating a lot of social media buzz, if not attention from the mainstream press. In response to a question from one of the moderators about what "racial blind spots" the candidates might possess, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), stated:

When you are white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto, you don’t know what it’s like to be poor, you don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you are walking down a street or dragged out of a car...We must be firm in making it clear that we will end institutional racism and reform a broken criminal justice system.
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The Reckoning

As I write this, the Republican primary in my home state of Virginia is in the books, and Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul who has flipped the political establishment on its head with his improbable run for the presidency, has won. His performance on "Super Tuesday" was not as dominating as perhaps Mr. Trump and his supporters had hoped, but it did make the path to the nomination much more difficult for his opponents. It seems that now would be a good time to consider the long-term implications of this current political season, at least from my limited vantage point. Donald Trump's ascension marks the end, in my opinion, of several coalitions which have held sway over American politics and culture for decades.

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What is Liberty, Anyway?

Note: This article was initially published in the April 2011 edition of Tea Party Review. 

If I had to choose one word that defines the foundation, motivation and objective of the Tea Party movement, it would be this: liberty. It is the one word that stands out in speeches, book titles and public pronouncements related to this grass-roots movement of everyday Americans.

Ask any number of Tea Party participants what liberty means to them, however, and you’re likely to get more than one answer. Liberty to a self-described libertarian may not be liberty as defined by a social conservative.

Outside of the conservative/libertarian ideological spectrum, even so-called “progressives” believe they have the answer to the question of liberty, viewing it, as they do mankind in general, primarily from a material perspective.

It is critical going forward that we arrive at some common understanding of what liberty means to us. Ultimately, it will not be specific policies or programs that benefit America, but our consistent adherence to the principle of liberty as the wellspring from which our ideas come.

How we perceive liberty will shape and guide every decision we make in our exercise of self-governance, to include holding our elected officials accountable. So this is one thing we’ve got to get right.

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Author Q&A: Ron Miller

Author's Note: The following is the unedited version of an interview I gave to Liberty University Press. The official version can be found here. Feb. 18, 2014

Black History Month is a reminder to reflect on the heritage and contributions of the black community in America.  To celebrate, we caught up with Ron Miller, author of “Sellout: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch and associate dean of the Helms School of Government, to talk about faith, race, politics, and his writing process. 

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Please Don’t Feed the Animals

The Republican National Convention this year devoted a significant portion of its prime time schedule to women and minority speakers, many of whom are the equivalent of rock stars in conservative circles. I expected liberals, from the bottom of the barrel to the top, to respond to the presence of these speakers, but even they caught me by surprise with the shrillness, ugliness and unhinged anger they showed. Mia Love, the Republican nominee for the 4th Congressional District seat in Utah, brought down the house in Tampa with her personal story. The daughter of Haitian immigrants and a first-generation American, she spoke compellingly of how her parents came here with practically nothing but a hope that America was truly the land of opportunity:

Let me tell you about the America I know. My parents immigrated to the U.S. with ten dollars in their pocket, believing that the America they had heard about really did exist. When times got tough they didn't look to Washington, they looked within. So the America I came to know was centered in personal responsibility and filled with the American dream. The America I know is grounded in the determination found in patriots and pioneers, in small business owners with big ideas, in the farmers who work in the beauty of our landscape, in our heroic military and Olympians. It's in every child who looks at the seemingly impossible and says, "I can do that." That is the America I know!

She is on the verge of possibly becoming the first black Republican woman ever in the U.S. Congress. I imagine back in the days I was growing up, my parents would have pointed to Ms. Love with pride and held her up to me and my siblings as a role model.

Today's liberals, however, attack her with some of the vilest language imaginable, calling her a "house nigger" and a "dirty, worthless whore" among other choice phrases.

Similar language was used against Artur Davis, an honors graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, and a former U.S. congressman from Alabama. Dr. Condoleeza Rice, of course, is a veteran of the racially-charged language hurled at blacks who don't adhere to the standard script which white liberals and the black orthodoxy have written for them.

The attacks on the women who spoke at the convention were no less vile, and I can't repeat the language used against them here. Among their number were the two women I previously cited, one the first black mayor in Utah history and the other a former U.S. Secretary of State, the first Latina governor in U.S. history, the first Indian-American woman governor in U.S. history, the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor and governor of Oklahoma, and the first to be elected to the U.S. Congress from Oklahoma since the 1920s, a former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, the first female attorney general in New Hampshire who is now a sitting U.S. senator from that state, the highest ranking Republican woman in the U.S. Congress, the attorney general for the state of Florida, and an entrepreneur running to become the lieutenant governor of Delaware. Clearly, these are serious and accomplished women, and role models for young girls everywhere – right?

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called them "shiny packaging."

Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was equally dismissive of the minority speakers, including fellow Hispanics like Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Governor Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico, sneering, "You can't just tout out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect the people are going to vote for your party or your candidate."

David Cohen captured some liberal media malevolence in a recent op-ed article on white liberals' race-based condescension:

During the convention, several white liberal reporters seized the opportunity to anoint themselves as guardians of racial correctness. With Hurricane Isaac bearing down on the Gulf Coast, Yahoo News' Washington bureau chief David Chalian proclaimed that the Romneys "were happy to have a party with black people drowning." (He was fired, presumably for voicing what other reporters were thinking.) MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell accused Sen. Mitch McConnell of racism for joking about the frequency of President Obama's golf outings. Tiger Woods is half black, you see. O'Donnell's colleague, Chris Matthews, implied that GOP Chairman Reince Priebus was racist for allegedly "foreignizing" President Obama — by likening his policies to those pursued in Europe. You see, "Europe" equals "foreign" equals "the other" equals "black." In the fevered incoherence of Matthews' brain, the dots are all connected.

Of course, in Chris Matthews' fevered mind, mentioning Obama's Chicago background is racist, too. If their foolish accusations hadn't effectively neutered all charges of racism going forward in the minds of most Americans, one could laugh at their obsession. Unfortunately, they have done real harm to those who could face legitimate racism in the future, and for that, they deserve our scorn and condemnation. If they do it for ratings, they are reprehensible. If they do it because they want to influence the political calculus in their favor, they are unfit to be called journalists. If they do it because they believe it, they are deluded.

David Cohen's piece captures my sentiments on this topic extremely well:

No decent person believes that the color of your skin should limit what you're allowed to achieve or what you're allowed to earn. So why do some liberals believe that the color of your skin should limit what you're allowed to think? When people of color refuse to think the way they're 'supposed to' think, when they follow their conscience to conservatism, do they forfeit their right to be treated with dignity and respect? The obvious moral answer is 'no,' but some liberals don't seem to get that. And it is particularly troubling when white liberals attempt to enforce racial groupthink in communities that are not their own.

They are blind, however, to their condescension and, yes, their latent racism. What else do you call the presumption that because I am black, I must think, speak and act a prescribed way in order to be authentic? Is there some great liberal god out there with a certificate of ownership that has the names of all black people on it, and which demands our loyalty without question or deviation? Is it not "soft bigotry" to presume that we as individual human beings, unique in form, mind and soul, not only believe the same things, but are somehow morally deficient if we do not? Did these angry, foaming liberals ever sit still and listen to a conservative woman or conservative of color recount their own story of how they came to the conclusions they did, and how they exercised the freedom of conscience which liberals claim to revere, but only when you reach the conclusions they want you to reach?

How many of you have pets at home? Pet owners know they can get their pets to do silly things for treats. They will perform for you if they think there's a chance you might toss them something to eat. Since modern American journalism has devolved into a performance, I can only presume that we will put a stop to nonsense like this once we stop feeding them with attention, as difficult as it is to let the demagoguery go unchallenged. They neither own me, nor do I answer to them, so I don't owe them my time or attention. Maybe it's time for the rest of America to leave them alone to stew in their own hateful juices.