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America Will Thrive Again; But it Will Be Up to People, Not Politicians

by Todd A. Smith

 

We Have Been Here Before


The year 2020 sucks.


My parents taught me never to rush life away because life is so short. 

 

But very few people I know want to stay back in 2020.


Do you remember how excited, and nervous, people were about the year 2000?


People will not necessarily be excited to enter 2021, but relieved.


Not only have we dealt with a worldwide pandemic with the coronavirus.


But we have also dealt with a seemingly uptick in racism and police brutality.


Unfortunately, we have also dealt with a wannabe dictator in the White House in President Donald Trump who would destroy our democracy just so he does not have to accept the fact that he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.


I purposefully did not call President Trump a loser because we have all lost in some competition.


But falling short does not make one a loser.


Not handling the loss like a man, with grace, humility, and a determination to win the next time, is what makes Trump the epitome of a loser.


But this article is not necessarily just about Trump.


It is about someone more important than the most powerful man in the world.


This article is about the people that truly call themselves Americans, the everyday people.


Over the last several decades, America’s progress and success has lulled her to sleep.


Americans falsely believed that racism was in the rearview mirror.


Americans falsely believed that our beloved democracy could never be challenged.


And Americans’ arrogance made us believe that we would always be a beacon of light to other democracies, or countries trying to embrace democracy.


The year 2020, and the four years preceding it, showed Americans what our true colors are.


And unfortunately, our true colors do not match each other and make for an odd color combination, figuratively speaking.


But fortunately, Americans have been through this before, and throughout history we have come out victorious, no matter how strong the opponent seemed.


When America was a fledgling and poor democratic nation, our very existence as a sovereign nation was not so certain.


American sailors constantly found themselves kidnapped by Tripoli pirates.


Those pirates from African nations would hold Americans hostage, and demand ransom from our struggling government.


Not having the military might that we would enjoy in the coming years, America often acquiesced to the demands of those pirates until former President Thomas Jefferson had enough.


President Jefferson began making the navy a priority so that we could beat foreign countries that believed America was a weak country, incapable of defending herself at sea.


Suffice it to say, America won its war with the Tripoli pirates and Americans at sea were never seen as sitting ducks from that time forward.


During the 1800s, the issue of slavery almost tore this country apart.


Well, it literally did.


When the Confederate States of America seceded from the Union because of the issue of slavery, or states’ rights to legalize slavery, the Civil War ensued.


Former President Abraham Lincoln knew that America could not survive any longer with half of the states slave and half of the states free.


Luckily, the Union won and slavery was abolished in this country on June 19, 1865.


Approximately 100 years later, the issue of civil rights divided this country.


African-Americans wanted equal rights, from voting to everything else under the sun.


As a result of marches, boycotts, sit-ins, freedom rides and other forms of protests, f0rmer President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


None of the turmoil of yesterday ever permanently ruined tomorrow for this great country.


However, those tomorrows did not come easy.


More importantly, those better tomorrows did not necessarily come because of the work of elected officials.


Those better days came because the regular people of American wanted a more perfect union.


America has to realize that we will get through the damage done from 2016 to 2020, but it will take work from ordinary Americans to get there.


In between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Jim Crow laws and Black codes came about to thwart the progress of reconciliation and equality.


Hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan gained in popularity as a fear tactic to stop African-Americans from seeking equality.


Many martyrs lost their lives so that some semblance of equality could exist in America.


And in many ways, America has progressed when it comes to race relations.


But whenever America experiences progress, those who want to go backwards instead of forward come out of the closet of ignorance to repress all progress that has been made.


Put it plainly, the rise and popularity of Trump had nothing to do with the economy, jobs or foreign relations.


Just like the Civil War and the Confederate rebel flag has nothing to do with states’ rights and Southern pride; the rise of Trump was a direct backlash to the historic presidency of former President Obama.


To many, seeing an African-American family in the White House, and them not working as butlers and maids, was too much progress to handle.


We knew there would be backlash.


But I never knew that so many people hated progress so much that they would throw our democracy under the bus in favor of a dictatorship just to maintain White supremacy.


On the bright side though, America had to only deal with four years of backlash post-Obama, while our ancestors dealt with 100 years of backlash after the abolishment of slavery.


If America, and the African-American community in particular, could handle Jim Crow laws, Black codes and the Ku Klux Klan, then we can handle anything.


Yes, 2020 sucked.


But, we survived.


The 100 years after slavery sucked even more and that did not stop us.


If that did not stop us, ain’t no stopping us now.

 

 

This article was published on Friday 11 December, 2020.
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