by Reginald Fullwood
Sometimes African American candidates beat the odds – even when most rule them out. Between hard work, a sound strategy and the stars aligning, people like Andrew Gillum can shock the world.
We have seen it before with underdogs like Barack Obama and even locally with candidates like Nat Glover winning a Sheriff’s race in a county that had never supported a Black man as the head of police. We also saw it some six years ago with Alvin Brown winning a shocker in the Jacksonville Mayor’s race.
Last week, Gillum not only “beat the odds,” but he proved that you can’t always believe the polls and the pundits. Almost every poll published had the only Black candidate in the Democratic primary finishing in third or fourth place.
Even as the dust was still settling from last Tuesday’s election, the Republican gubernatorial primary winner, Congressman Ron DeSantis was already on the attack.
During an interview on Fox and Friends the day after the election, DeSantis was asked about his opponent handling of the economy. The Trump supported Congressman said, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.”
Yes, the guy actually said “monkey this up.” Of course, many people were offended by the reference, considering the fact that African Americans are often times referred to as monkeys by racists. The DeSantis campaign said that the criticism was an overreaction and the comment was taken out of context.
The comments were probably the first indication of what is to come. The Trump brand of politics is win by any means necessary with fear and racism being the main tools in the toolbox.
And for those who think that it’s just politics – well it’s not. Of course, anyone with commonsense knows that Trump is a very insecure man on top of being a bigot. This is a man that has made fun of prisoners of war, special needs individuals, and continues to degrade minorities and women.
There is an old saying, “Entertain a clown and become a part of the circus.”
Well, the circus has come to town and has set up shop in the White House. In fact, it seems like every day there is a new unbelievable act that is more preposterous than the day before.
Well America, half of us elected a clown, and as P.T. Barnum once said, “Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung.”
It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Republicans have unreserved power in Washington DC and their ringleader is out of control.
Back to DeSantis for a moment – this is a candidate that didn’t run on a particular vision for Florida or on any policy experience, but ran primarily touting his Donald Trump endorsement. His TV commercials were comical because he basically stroked Trump’s ego and appealed to the man’s delusional followers.
So with the support of the Donald and his disciples, what’s next for DeSantis? Well, that’s easy – use the Trump playbook. First your subtly drop hints about your opponent’s race, which fires up those in your base of voters that are bigots.
The next move is an old politics 101 stunt – get a third party group to start attacking your opponent from every angle possible. But someone or some group has taken it to the next level.
It’s one thing if we were just talking about the monkey comment, but a new robo call circulating to voters has taken race politics to a new level.
According to the New York Times, the call says, “Well, hello there,” the call begins as the sounds of drums and monkeys can be heard in the background, “I is Andrew Gillum. We Negroes . . . done made mud huts while white folk waste a bunch of time making their home out of wood an’ stone.”
No, I am not making this foolishness up. The recording goes on to say he’ll pass a law letting African Americans evade arrest “if the Negro know fo’ sho’ he didn’t do nothin’.” Talk about taking race politics and bigotry to a new level – someone has decided that decency and campaign rules don’t mean anything.
A disclaimer at the end of the robo-call says it was produced by the Road to Power, a white-supremacist and anti-Semitic group based in Idaho.
The DeSantis campaign and other Republicans have spoken out against the calls, but the damage is done. The battle for Governor in Florida may come down to race and Donald Trump politics versus the progressive politics of Gillum and the Bernie Sanders machine.
Yes, it is 2018 and we are still having some of the same conversations we had during the Civil Rights era. James Baldwin said it best, “Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality.”
Signing off from the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP,