The current Clinton vs. Trump presidential race has Christians all around the world on their knees in prayer while simultaneously scratching their heads. The Scriptures are supposed to give us clarity on things, but when it comes to this election Christians are as divided as North and South Korea. And when you add the fact that I’m Black…well, this decision gets even more complicated.
Let me explain.
Between the year when Blacks got the right to vote (1870) and the year when Blacks actually got the right to vote (1965), the Black Church became this social, spiritual and political power base for the African-American community. Christianity and church culture became a huge part of our DNA and today, almost 80% of Blacks still identify themselves as Christians. As part of the Protestant 78%, I am absolutely grateful that my forefathers, often empowered by the words of Scripture, fought diligently for my right to vote.
I’m equally grateful that I don’t have to exercise that right.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve voted in both presidential elections that I was old enough to, as well as many local ones. I believe that in order for our communities to be considered and respected by our politicians, we have to show up in the booth and prove they must win us over (too) to get elected. They pay attention to the blocks that have and exercise voting power and those are the first to get their potholes fixed. Sad, but true.
It is my opinion, however, our current two party system—with its embedded, polarizing, and intentionally opposing platforms—should be quite unsatisfying to the voting Black Christian. One party has done its best to position itself with the Black side of me. They keep getting me with all of their saxophone-playing Clinton-ness, and first-Black-Presidenting Obama-ness, and their fake care for my equality and empowerment that really just rests on the realer accomplishments of the Truman, Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Then you have the other party who tries to appeal to my love for biblical values and concern for the moral trajectory of this country. And who knows? If this music thing keeps working out, their economic principles may start to work out in my favor, too. ;-)
Even in theory, I’ve got a tough decision to make every four years. In practice, it’s even more difficult because the modern Democratic politician hasn’t done much to prove loyalty to or special care for the marginalized or victims of chronic discrimination. Forty years of almost monolithically voting for Democrats has not resulted in much improvement in the economic status of African-Americans. Some pundits even argue that some of the Democrat-driven programs branded as aids for our community have only served to criminalize Black men, weaken the fabric of the Black family and distract from deeper issues. And some would say the results were (CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT) intentional.
And then Jonathan the Christian quietly screams “Amen” to the more Republican concerns surrounding a society that seems to be growing more and more hostile to Christianity and less reflective and accepting of our convictions and lifestyle decisions (even as it asks us to be more reflective and accepting of theirs). Unfortunately, those “beacons of Christian light” in government and the conservative press are often quite dim. Racism, neglecting the poor, privileges based on everything but merit and honor, etc. are certainly anti-Christian concepts. I understand why an evangelical Christian can’t get behind Hillary. I don’t understand, though, how they could get behind Trump. His chosen party may theoretically reflect my values but he certainly doesn’t seem to! And many of his supporters in government and in the public don’t either.
One party is allergic to my faith and the other is allergic to my complexion. But they’re both itching to get my vote.
The Black, American Christian is part of the minority and the majority, enjoying the free expression of their faith unlike anywhere else in the world yet also on the wrong side of centuries of racial subjugation and tension. And maybe I’d tolerate a Democrat-aided moral decline outside of the Church if it guaranteed my fellow Black congregants would be able to walk the streets safely and grow businesses on an even playing field. Or maybe I’d accept a Republican’s trickle-down Reaganomics if I could trust that those “Christian” politicians would govern under the direction of God with the love and compassion the Scriptures mandate. But neither seem to ever be a reality.
So, sorry. I just don’t know. At this point, so that I still support turnout numbers for my demographic, I’ll be at the polls, but I may just write in