What Will It Take to Restore Civility?

By Vernon A. Williams

Two questions loom in conversations throughout America. The first is how did we get here? The second is, where do we go from here?

Even as we celebrate the reluctant exit of a narcissistic tyrant who tainted the flavor of democracy for the past four years, the country languishes in the throes of his diabolical disdain for decency. This administration is fading into oblivion with the same brazen absence of class it brought to the White House.

The man who claimed his mission to “drain the swamp” instead reinvigorated the worst of Washington. Even more despicable than his abuse of his office was the ongoing complicity of a totally feckless Congress and Republican Party that pathetically opted to look the other way half of the time and to act as co-conspirators, shamelessly assuming roles as participants in the transgressions the other half of the time.

Breaking with every tradition and protocol established over more than 200 years of government, 45 in these final hours is continuing to flaunt the last vestiges of power by refusing to cooperate with the transition team of his successor. It’s not a bother to him if the health of a nation during a pandemic is at stake, or the tenets of democracy are being destroyed, or if his insolence brings the threat of wars or terrorism.

No matter how contrary to the greater good, it’s played off as just Donald being Donald. How did things reach this point?

Serious examination requires total transparency. America has been troubled since its inception, particularly where its citizens of African descent are concerned. We did not migrate willingly and yet this nation was built on our backs. Even after the scourge of slavery, our reward has been disenfranchisement, disengagement, brutality, bigotry, apartheid and lingering subjugation to second class citizenship.

With all of the obstacles, we found that things could get dramatically worse. The lame duck asked Blacks four years ago for support, reasoning, “What do you have to lose?” Throughout his administration, that question has been answered over and over again. The prospect of another four years was unfathomable.

Of course racism didn’t start with the Donald. Neither will it disappear on his return to private life. But inarguably, this president enabled haters and winked an eye of indifference to hatred far more openly than any president in modern times. So while racism persists at least the most flagrant and virulent perpetrators no longer have their most ardent ally and enthusiastic enabler in the Oval Office.

While no one in the wake of 2020 feels confident forecasting the future, it’s nonetheless cathartic to at least reimagine a time when politicians disagreed without being quite so viciously disagreeable; a time when there was at least lip-service to the concept of a common good, return to a time when there was a path – however jagged, obscure, uneven and bumpy – for the journey of our aspirations as Black Americans.

In conclusion, there are a few meaningful takeaways from the Trump presidency that can actually be useful moving forward. He inspired a return to literacy in the U.S., inspiring almost 50 books – many bestsellers – about his incompetence, criminality and corruption.

The 45 presence turned apathetic folks who had never watched the news or cared about politics and government into informed advocates and committed activists. The 45 presence took the hoods off of high-ranking government, corporate and everyday people who no longer felt a need to hide. The 45 presence reminded Negroes that their best bet in this hostile reality is to bet on Black.

We have to sustain the positives of this bitter lesson. Make no mistake, the Resident of the United States had no good intentions. What he did, he meant it as evil. But our God meant it as good.

The bottom line is, where we go from here will be determined by our focus and determination to build on and sustain what we developed over the last four years; to not slip back into the complacency that allowed evil to prosper. We can never again take our eyes off of the prize because while a political resurgence for 45 is highly unlikely, there are more where he came from. The struggle is real. And it never ends.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a seris of essays on a myriad of topics that include social issue, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: vernonawiliams@yahoo.com.

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