Monday, November 6, 2017

Reaction to Texas Massacre Colored by Divisive Environment

By Mildred Robertson

Yesterday when I returned home from church, I was appalled to find that a church in Texas had been attacked and that an untold number of people had been killed and/or injured. The first thought that raced to my head was, “God, don’t let it be a black church.”  Then when I discovered it was not a black church, I prayed, “God, don’t let it be a black or brown shooter.” My prayers were answered…but what a horrible prayer.
It does not matter what color the victims or the perpetrator were. It is a heinous act. It should be abhorred by all Americans…all people.
This brought me to a sobering realization.
I have allowed today’s divisive racial politics to affect my thoughts and infect my humanity. This realization caused me to see that, while this horrific shooting is not directly born of any particular political viewpoint, my reaction to it is.  My reaction is based upon the ethnic violence engendered by the hatred and distrust that permeates our country; feelings emboldened and normalized by the President of the United States.
Trump should not have even crossed my mind in this situation. My focus should solely have been on the victims of this tragedy. But this age of Trumpism has effectively subdivided us from our humanity, causing many of us to look at everything through the prism of race. Unfortunately, it seems, I too have succumbed to the unforgiving onslaught of divisive media reports of the misdeeds of a hateful minority which have led to racial distrust and outrage.
Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty to distrust, and much over which to be outraged. But we cannot let Trump and his band of deplorables drag us down to their level. We cannot lose, or misplace our humanity to the extent that we paint everyone in a category other than our own with the same brush. We must not care less for the pain and suffering of those who differ from us than the pain and suffering of those with whom we identify.
America has always had its problems. That is not an accusation. It is a fact. Our history speaks for itself. But we have been better than this. In the face of Bull Connor, the water hoses and the dogs, America stood up and said “no…enough!”  When our youth were sent to be slaughtered in Vietnam, the masses rose up against it. Even when Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot down on the hotel balcony in Memphis, we had leaders like Bobby Kennedy who felt our pain and called on America’s better angels to calm our hurt and anger.
But today there is no such leadership. Today we are sent to our respective corners to prepare ourselves to come out fighting. While many hope and pray for the America that we know and love to come forth, to stand against the onslaught of cultural hatred, injustice, racism, violence and fear-mongering, we are simply tired of the fight. Tired of waiting for American values to once again take the fore-front…for American politicians to be patriots…for the American justice system to be just.
In the famous words of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hammer, “I am just sick and tired of being sick and tired.” But if we give in to the fatigue, we lose. America loses. We must not become like them. We must not embrace the politics of division.
I do not know what answer will make America realize its glorious potential. I don’t know what it will take for us to return to our nationhood and pursue the common good. There is not a solution on the horizon that I can see. All of our politicians have failed us…Democrat and Republican; black and white; conservative, liberal and progressive. There are no acceptable answers found among any of the current players on the field of politics. But an answer must be found if we are to survive.
I cannot change the world, but I can change myself. I refuse to let Donald Trump and his ideologues dictate my perception of the world and those around me. We cannot afford to ignore the caustic comportment that permeates our current politics. But each of us must search for a way to lock out the clutter and dig down to the hard facts. We must identify the many corrupt, unscrupulous acts that taint our current political climate and demand just punishment for the perpetrators. That is the only way to maintain our common humanity.
My heart goes out to the souls who were lost, wounded and aggrieved in that little Texas town. They are my brothers and my sisters. They are Americans. And they deserve better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump is Apologist-In-Chief for Racism

By Mildred Robertson
Charlottesville is the site of an open wound. It is a festering sore that has plagued our nation since the first slave ship arrived on our shores in 1619.  Let us put into perspective the origin of this wound enflamed by the KKK, Alt-Right, Neo-Nazi march that exploded into violence on August 13, 2017.
The confederate monument they assembled to protect is symbolic of an ugly time in our history that has been rewritten to reflect a genteel past. You see, America’s passion for bygone days when slaves purportedly frolicked with glee on the plantations of their slave masters is in direct contrast to the reality of the past. This storied past which Southerners and many others throughout this nation cherish is no more than a lie to cover the true nature of not just slavery, but the people that perpetrated it.
Slavery and the slave masters were harsh, hateful, inhumane, cruel, cold-hearted, cold-blooded, callous and uncaring. Slaves were tortured, mutilated, starved, denied adequate shelter and clothing, raped, murdered and had children ripped from the arms of loving mothers and fathers, had fathers torn from their families…all in order to make a profit.  It is irrelevant whether the slave-master’s name is Robert E. Lee or Thomas Jefferson. There is no such thing as a benevolent slave-master.
The vicious treatment of American slaves would be good fodder for a Stephen King movie…except that these acts are not fiction. They are historical outrageously cruel acts endured by the ancestors of almost every African American in this nation.  And it did not just dehumanize the slave, but also the slave-master.  
So as an American…a descendant of slaves…I was refreshed and uplifted to see white Americans, many of whom I assume could chart their lineage back to a slave master, stand and say, “I wish to be freed from the depravity of my ancestors’ legacy.” Charlottesville’s decision to take down the monument was an acknowledgement of the wrong it represents and the hurt endured by every minority who views it. It was an acknowledgement that the history of the South’s secession was nothing to be glorified—that it was traitorous; that it was unjust; and that it was ultimately defeated.
Yet the President of the United States chose to embrace the lie rather than the historical truth. He became the Apologist-In-Chief for racists. He embraced his own personal depravity and his family’s legacy of hate and put it on international display. He equated those who stood against hatred and intolerance as equal to those who would tear down our democracy, discriminate against American citizens, and wreak violence and havoc within our communities. He further encouraged and gave the racists permission to rise up, move forward and continue to spread hatred and discord in our country.
It is now up to our nation’s leaders to wrest the reins of power from this man who will clearly go down in the annals of history alongside individuals such as Adolf Hitler. It is up to our leadership, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, to ensure that we do not go down the path taken by Germany and many other nations who acquiesced power to dictators and madmen.
Our future depends on it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump Brings America to a Spiritual Crossroad

Battle to Govern More Spiritual than Political

By: Mildred Robertson
Daily we are bombarded with the most recent missteps of our misdirected government. We endure a constant barrage of lies, intrigue, accusations and misinformation from a White House besieged from without and within.  The media battles daily to dispense some measure of truth among all the falsehoods and innuendos that float out of the Washington beltway. Words, it seems, cannot halt the downward spiral that has engulfed our country. At least, that is the way I felt until scripture began to speak to me.
You see, over the past month our Sunday school lessons have focused on the prophets who proclaimed Israel’s downfall. Isaiah…Jeremiah…Ezekiel…Amos; all were oracles who beseeched God’s people to hear His voice and follow Him. They railed against a corrupt government and an incorrigible people.  Their words, it seems, echo down through the ages and ring loudly in the ears of a nation whose actions mirror those of a fallen Israel, and whose hard-heartedness places us in the cross-hairs of God’s judgment.
I hesitate to even take this path, in that I do believe in the separation of church and state. But as I witness those who call themselves “the evangelicals, the religious right, the moral majority” bow down at the feet of the hedonistic usurper Donald Trump, I cannot help but believe that the battle we face is far more spiritual than political.
Everything he stands for is antithetical to basic Christianity. From his border wall to the deportation of mothers and fathers seeking a better life for their children, Trump has displayed his abhorrence to the basic tenants of religion. His zealous fight to strip healthcare from millions of Americans, and his desire to further enrich that top 1 % of Americans who enjoy this nation’s bounty testify to his total disregard for the needs of the common man. He has proven himself to be common, uncultured, sexist, racist, dishonest, ignorant, ill-equipped to lead, and possibly even deranged. Yet religious leaders across this nation profess that he is called of God.
How is it that those who profess to know the word of the Lord can condone this man’s behavior? How can they embrace a national agenda that values profit over people, hate over love? Psalm 82: 2-4 says it thusly: “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked?” It further exhorts:  “Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” It is as though the Psalmist stood beside us today and penned these words in the midst of our current national upheaval.
Prophetic scripture foretells a nation’s downfall, outlining death, destruction and exile. The prophecies were a call for change. That unheeded call resulted in a nation’s demise. America would be wise to be mindful of the warning. There is still time for us to chart a better course. There is still time for us to heal.
It is late…but not too late.
The Word also says, “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Acidic Discourse Tears at Nation’s Fabric—Precursor to America’s Demise

By Mildred Robertson

Free speech. It is the bedrock of our democracy. It is what sets us apart from most other nations in the world. It is also what has helped create a chasm so wide between ideologies that our Union is threatened. Not since the civil rights movement has our nation been so divided, so hateful and mean-spirited.
During that period the media held up a mirror to America. What she saw shamed her. That shame led to action that created a new progressive era of inclusiveness; a time when many leaders strived to level the playing field for blacks and others who had not only been excluded from the American dream, but nearly decimated by it.
Because of the noble efforts of the media to live up to its high calling as the 4th Estate of American democracy, it was lauded and held in even higher esteem. Over the years it seems that once vaunted profession descended to a place ruled by ratings and advertising dollars; giving little thought to the need to guard the doors of our democracy. The meteoric fall of the mainstream media coupled with white backlash over civil rights concessions have left America vulnerable to the ravings of fringe elements that blame “otherness” for all of America’s ills.
Fox News, Donald Trump and others like them crept inside that open door to pimp the First Amendment and the values upon which it was based. The mainstream media, like a deer caught in headlights, failed to see that danger barreling down upon both it, and our nation until it was too late. The result has been the rise of entities proclaiming 1st Amendment protections while tearing at the fabric of our nation by spewing hate and divisiveness. They engage in hateful discourse and encourage violence against anyone who does not look or think like them.
Now we live in a nation wary of not just the media posers; but all media, including what many call “the mainstream media.” People have taken to social media to not only find, but to create their own truth. They have fashioned tribes that practice group think, and refuse to consider that the real truth may be found outside their twitter feed.
It is against this backdrop that we see raucous town hall meetings, angry protestors going after one another and representatives being shot down in a ball park. Americans seem to be armed with their own individual facts that leave no room for discussion or dissent; with some willing to kill for them. 
If we are to survive this current attack on our democracy we must somehow go back to the time when we realized that facts are facts, whether we agree with them or not. We must return to a time when those in power spoke the truth, and the media called them out when they did not. We have to somehow learn to put news gathering above garnering ratings.
If we cannot somehow find our way back to an America where truth and integrity are honored, and national discourse is respected, we are destined to go the way of many other historic empires. We are destined to fall.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Take Focus off Trumpgate: Health Care Legislation Needs Your Attention

As we watch the drama of espionage, collusion, treason and obstruction of justice unfold in Washington, D.C., many of us are overwhelmed by the magnitude of our country’s current peril.  I have detected a sense of hopelessness among my friends and colleagues as we stand by helplessly viewing the erosion of democratic rule in our nation.

The common lament is “What can I do as an individual citizen to help right this ship?” 
Well, unfortunately, we must leave the pursuit of justice against this corrupt administration in the hands of elected officials, the FBI, the Department of Justice and others tasked with protecting our democratic way of life. At least for now. 
But there is something we can do right now. We can hold our elected officials responsible for the bad acts they perpetrate while the world is focused on Trumpgate.
The Senate is currently attempting to push through destructive healthcare legislation while no one is watching. Mitch McConnell is working on a Senate version of the health care bill behind closed doors, with little input from any but a select few Republicans. It is expected to be as devastating to the average American as the recently passed house bill that, if enacted, would hit the elderly particularly hard.
According to the AARP, the U.S. House of Representatives health care bill would harm millions of Americans, hurt Medicare’s financial solvency and drive up health insurance costs for those over 50.
In its June 2017 issue of the AARP Bulletin, AARP lists, by state, the names of state representatives who voted for the bill. The American Health Care Act, which passed by a mere 4 votes in the House, includes what AARP calls an “age tax” that could potentially add as much as $13,000 to the cost of insurance for those 50 – 64 years of age, and would discriminate against those with preexisting health conditions.
AARP urges votes to hold representatives accountable for their vote. I urge you to do the same. In North Carolina those representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act, or “Trump Care” as I like to call it, are:

     NC-2   George Holding
     NC-5   Virginia foxx
     NC-6   Mark Walker
     NC-7   David Rouzer
     NC-8   Richard Hudson
     NC-9   Robert Pittenger
     NC-10 Patrick L. McHenry
     NC-13 Ted Budd
The only way we can change what goes on in Washington, D.C. is to change who we send to Washington, D.C. We need to contact our elected officials to let them know that we are not so distracted by the Washington spectacle, that we do not clearly see what they are doing. And we must let them know that we plan to hold them accountable at the ballot box. 
I urge you to contact your U.S. House Representative to let him or her know how you felt about the recent health care vote. And let your U.S. Senator know you will be watching his or her vote when McConnell roles out his healthcare bill.
We each have a voice in the preservation of our Democracy. Let’s be loud about it!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trump Administration Threatens Democracy

By Mildred Robertson

I have been absent from the blog for about one month; somewhat overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenges faced by those who fear for the state of the Union.  As I flip between CNN, MSNBC and the local news channels each night, attempting to make sense of the senseless babble emitting from the Washington Beltway, I shudder at the thought of 3 more years of Trump, or even a day of Pence, or any other successors who might ascend to the Whitehouse were we to successfully unseat the poser who presents himself as the leader of the free world.

The nightly drip of information revealing the ineptitude, subterfuge, nepotism, and juvenile arrogance that marks this administration is disheartening and frightening. I wished for, labored for, voted for a different administration. While I expected policies that were at odds with those I would support, that does not mean that I wished for this one to fail so miserably.

I expected a bad healthcare bill, and a heartless attack on our national social safety net. I knew that business would get a tax break on the backs of working Americans. I figured we would face more efforts to gerrymander votes and I expected attacks on a woman’s right to choose and endless babble about building a wall. I expected a good old-fashion political battle. I did not expect espionage, collusion, and possible treason that would shake the very foundation of our Democracy.
What is happening in Washington D.C. is not normal. The threat to our way of life is real, and I am appalled that it appears that no one knows how to adjust that reality in a way that will do us no harm. I imagine this must be the way Dorothy felt when she woke up in Oz. Unlike the denizens of Oz, our wizard cannot even create the illusion that he is all-knowing, even for a moment.  

So what are we to do?  While Trump has been slow to appoint leadership to a number of key administrative positions, what about those appointments he has made. If it turns out that he ascended to the White House through treasonous collusion, does his appointment of clearly unqualified people to his administration such as Betsy DeVos and Ben Carson stand? Are he and his family held accountable for clear acts of nepotism? Does the American Treasury recover the windfall received by his various properties and holdings based upon his ascension to the Whitehouse?

As we watch the drama unfold in D.C., it is difficult to focus on those legislative issues that face our country. The Wizard and his crew of flying monkeys have kept all eyes focused on Oz. The Republican-led Congress is clearly lost in the poppy field right outside the gates.

So what is to become of us and our national pressing issues? Who will be our champion and forge a way forward from this malaise that threatens to destroy our democracy? None named thus far seem capable and/or inclined; not the Senate or House subcommittees, not the special prosecutor.

I look toward 2018 with anticipation…and hope. I hope that those who thought it a good time to make a political statement see that voting should be neither whimsical nor emotional. I hope that those who have been disillusioned will come back and take up the fight. I hope that those who have been disenfranchised will pursue their right to vote. 

Our democratic way of life is being stolen from us minute-by-minute; day-by-day. It is unthinkable that I would actually quote Donald Trump, but it really is time for decent, upright, patriotic Americans of all genders, hues, religions, and orientations to TAKE BACK AMERICA. Whatever the internal battles that separate us, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal; we must redirect America’s course for our common good.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Replacement of North Carolina HB2 About More than Bathrooms

Focus on 2018 - Win the War, Not the Battle

By Mildred Robertson
I was recently asked my thoughts on HB142, which replaces the North Carolina controversial HB2 “bathroom bill.” It is a complicated issue. Regardless of your initial position on HB2, HB142 represents both wins and losses for either side.

First, HB142 is a continuation of NC Republican high jinx, as they exert total control over the governance of our state by manipulating the process. They prevented challengers from adding any changes or amendments to HB142, a completely different bill, by gutting it and inserting the HB2 restrictions into it, Therefore, Governor Roy Cooper and other opponents of HB2 were left with a take-it, or leave-it scenario, because Democrats do not have the votes to repeal HB2 or to sustain a veto by Cooper.

The only reason the Republicans even contemplated this new bill was to placate businesses refusing to practice in the state because of the discriminatory nature of HB2. They attempted to alter the bill just enough to make it more palatable to businesses such as the organizers of the NCAA tournament who gave the state an ultimatum.

Change the bill or lose the tournament through 2022.

It remains to be seen whether HB142 will accomplish that goal. The NCAA is to make its decision in early April.  I believe that those who oppose HB2 felt that the negative impact the “bathroom bill” had on North Carolina’s business prospects was their best leverage against the Republican legislature. By softening the impact of the bill through HB142, Cooper and the Dems have allowed their best weapon to become watered down.

Republicans are clearly being hypocritical, as they tout less power in Raleigh and more in local government. Meanwhile, they pass a bill that wrests control of the regulation of multiple occupancy bathrooms, showers or changing facilities from local government and school officials and gives that power to the state.

Another point of contention is the ability of local governments to enact nondiscrimination ordinances. House Bill 2 restricted those abilities. Likewise, HB142 blocks local governments’ ability to pass new nondiscrimination protections for workplaces, hotels and restaurants until December 2020. LGBT groups feel the new bill still denies them protection from discrimination.

I do not know whether Governor Cooper and the Democrats who supported him did the right thing. It is a decision I would not have wanted to make. Governing is not about winning everything you wish for all the time. Sometimes compromise is necessary for either side to get any sort of victory.

If the Republicans are successful in wooing back businesses that have abandoned the state by the droves with this watered down version of HB2, there is no reason for them to contemplate changing the remaining discriminatory features contained in HB142. If their efforts are unsuccessful, it is possible that the legislature will revisit this issue. But that means the ball remains in the Republican court.

However, that’s where it has been and will remain until the people of North Carolina determine that the current makeup of the legislature is counterproductive to needs of the citizens of this state and change our leadership. I do not know if that is possible with the gerrymandered voting districts that the state will have to live with, at least through 2018.

All the more reason for those who oppose North Carolina’s current direction to mobilize. We do not need to allow this debate to dampen the seeming mobilization of opposition forces growing in our state. We can attempt to re-litigate HB2, or we can focus on the real battle in 2018. That’s when we can engender real, meaningful, lasting change across the board.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trumpcare Threatens Low-Income Seniors’ Health Coverage

By Mildred Robertson
Having the choice to die from lack of health care rather than the lack of food or shelter is really not a choice at all. But that doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). You see, Ryan thinks the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment of the Republican alternative to Obamacare is great. In fact, he says its assessment of the planned legislation exceeds his expectation.
Ryan touts this plan as “the most fundamental entitlement reform in a generation.” He appears to be oblivious to the fact that seniors with an annual income of $26,000 or less would be choosing to give up more than half their annual income if they choose to take advantage of his “free market” alternative to universal healthcare. So it appears disingenuous when he states that his plan is about giving people more and better health choices.
According to the CBO, a 21-year-old making $68,200 would pay an average of $1,450 for a year’s worth of insurance premiums after the new tax credits, compared with $5,100 under the current law. A senior who falls in the same income bracket would pay about the same for a year’s worth of premiums. But for those 64 year olds in the $26,500 income bracket the cost would rise from an annual premium of $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act to $14,600 under Trumpcare.
·         If your 21 years old and make $68,200 annually, your premiums will be about $1,450.
·         If you are 64 years old and make $68,200 annually, your payments would be about the same.
·         If you are 64 years old and make $26,500, your annual premium would skyrocket to $14,600.
So, that means redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich exceeds Speaker Ryan’s expectations. That means denying subsistence-level seniors the financial ability to acquire healthcare in order to give a tax break to those who need it the least exceeds Ryan’s expectations.
It is short-sighted to determine that it is not universally beneficial to our nation, regardless of a person’s age or infirmity, to have access to affordable, quality healthcare. We pay for the healthcare of those who opt out whether we want to or not.  And we generally pay more if the person must utilize the emergency room; or only seeks healthcare when the malady has progressed to a more severe and costly condition.
The CBO report indicates that as many as 24 million Americans will become uninsured under Trumpcare. Ryan says that is a good thing because it would be their choice. But his words ring hollow, because healthcare being available and being accessible are two different things. The CBO report indicates that healthcare would become anything but universal under the GOP plan, excluding millions.
Those 24 million uninsured represent our mothers, brothers and sisters…our children. They are real people, with real, beating hearts. It is irrelevant whether you are young or old, sick or healthy. Life is more important than a tax cut for the wealthy. The life of every citizen matters and one should not have to forfeit it for lack of money.
So while Trumpcare meets Speaker Ryan’s expectations, it does not meet mine. My expectation is that affordable healthcare is available for all Americans. My expectations is that every American facing a health crisis, regardless of age or income, should have the chance to live.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Focus on Congress – Trump is Just a Distraction

By Mildred Robertson

Are Trump’s tweets perplexing, infuriating, deceitful, hurtful, destabilizing and just plain ignorant? Absolutely. But we must not be duped by his seemingly adolescent predisposition to tweet nonsensical fabrications in the wee hours of the morning. There is, I believe, a method to his madness.

His intent is to distract us from the truly diabolical activities of his administration and the Republican Party as they destroy healthcare, education and the environment, all while chipping away at our civil liberties and covering up collusion with a foreign power to impact the inner workings of our government.  
I understand the news media’s proclivity to focus on his outrageous tweets, but by so doing they are helping Trump lay cover for his much more dangerous pursuits. It is easier to talk about the ridiculousness of his allegations against President Obama than it is to explain how House Bill 610 will eliminate the Elementary Education Act of 1965, which provides for equal opportunity in education, or that it will strip programs designed to help struggling learners and abolish the Nutritional Act of 2012 that provides breakfast and lunch for needy children.

Focusing on the tweets is easier than discussing how immigrant parents of American citizens are being snatched away from their children on their way to drop them off at school, or how the new immigration order continues to be a dressed up version of his previous Muslim ban. The media’s attention to his tweets gives less time to discuss the ramifications of the GOP’s plan to replace Obamacare, which is predicted to cause millions to lose coverage and millions more to pay a higher price for healthcare, or how it will defund Planned Parenthood and effectively shut down private health insurance coverage for abortions.
There is not much talk about the Russian steel being used to build the Dakota Pipeline.  There is not much time to discuss the exorbitant cost of Trump’s weekend get-a-ways to Mar-a-Largo, or the cost to house his wife in New York, or to protect his sons as they globetrot; pandering favor to foreign businesses. No in-depth reporting seems to be occurring regarding the unprecedented access to government officials given to those who can pay to stay at Trump’s properties or why that is a problem. Only fleeting mention has been given to ethical challenges associated with this administration and its unorthodox method of governing.

Little time is left to discuss the inadequacies of the cabinet members who have been confirmed, or to discuss all the vital vacant positions in our government which are going unfilled. Little attention is being paid to the mad-man in North Korea, the chill between the U.S. and China, or the overall break-down in our foreign relations.
So his tweets may seem ignorant and juvenile…and they are. But they are also crafty. Trump is determining what will be discussed in the news cycle. He is setting the agenda for the media. He is deciding what will be the national discussion.

Will he get himself in trouble with some of his tweets? Probably. But the fact is, the GOP is quietly instituting legislation that will harm the American public with little or no scrutiny, while Trump draws our attention elsewhere.
Ultimately his lack of understanding of the process of governing, his arrogance and his instability will take its toll. But who knows what will be the state of the country by the time that comes to fruition?

Don’t fall for his distractions. Our very way of life is under assault, and we do not have time to entertain his nightly temper tantrums and juvenile distractions while our nation burns.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Profitability vs. Responsibility
By: Mildred Robertson

Donald Trump’s crusade against the media is somewhat ironic, in that it was the media that provided the vehicle by which he was able to ascend to the most powerful position in the world.  Trump’s outrageous antics made for good television. And the mainstream media, tabloids, and social media consumed his preposterous behavior like a fat man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

No one actually believed that the American public would actually elect this misogynistic, ill-informed, inarticulate, racist, bombastic, uncultured man-child to our nation’s highest office. Even the man himself, I believe, did not consider it a possibility at first blush.

So he was entertaining. He made good copy. He boosted the ratings. And high ratings meant high profit. It seemed like a win-win for the media and the would-be-king. Except, he actually became king.

The media allowed the Trump saga to suck up all the oxygen in the room; first choking out any viable opposition in the Republican Primary and then strangling every policy-wonkish pitch produced by the Clinton campaign; a campaign that struggled both with message and the onslaught from Bernie-ites on the left and chants of “lock her up” on the right.

Hillary clearly did not have the charisma of her predecessor; but she was every bit as qualified and prepared to take on the burden of making the hard decisions that are the rock-bed of our democracy. President Obama even established that as he campaigned for her across the country. 

Many of us, along with the media, thought that Clinton would surely lock this election up with the combination of a steady hand, and a gender advantage. Particularly when her opponent was so clearly unstable, and his opinion of women was so clearly objectionable.

And then there was that gender thing. It was 2016. The era should have been long passed when a glass ceiling could keep a woman from ascending to the highest seat in our nation. Women have risen to power in countries across the globe that are much farther removed from the democratic principles upon which our nation was built. So who would imagine that someone with Hillary Clinton’s record could possibly be defeated by someone like Donald Trump?

So, the media thought, let’s make the money. Let’s promote his every tweet. Let’s broadcast every speech he makes. Let’s discuss ad nauseam what he said and to whom he said it. Let’s talk about who would welcome his musings and who would be offended.

The media seemed to give little thought to the fact that Trump’s unsophisticated followers would accept every word from his mouth as truth, particularly when, at first, there was very little push back from journalists.  So he said that immigrants from Mexico were rapists and murderers…and the public believed him. He said that women were objects that you could just grab by the genitals…and they said, “Well, okay if you say so.” He said that he would build a wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it, and Trumpsters chanted, “Build that wall.”  The media broadcast his every word, his every tweet, without concern for the truth or the fallacy in them.

By the time the media realized the American public was falling for Trump’s vaudeville stick, it was far too late. They had already given him millions of dollars of free media, and had catapulted him to the center of the world stage. They had created a persona that was too big to defeat.

Having served its purpose, Trump then turned on the very entity that created him. It is clear that a special mission exists for the media in a free and open society. But the U.S. media failed to rise to that mission at this most critical time in our country’s history.

As we stand on the brink of a political shift that could possibly send our nation reeling into fascism it is imperative that the media take its place as the arbiter of truth. It seems that, after years of granting Trump a free pass, the media has finally embraced its revered status as the Fourth Estate. It appears the media is now ready to live up to its calling to help preserve and protect the very foundation of the Constitution.

That means speaking truth to power. That means giving no quarter to lies and half-truths. That means broadcasting facts and not propaganda. That means identifying an “alternative fact” as what it is—a lie. I believe that we must live up to the Journalist’s Creed written by Walter Williams in 1914, which states in part:

“I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.”

The media was not set aside in our Constitution to entertain us; but to inform us. They were not called to provide us opinions about the issues that threaten our liberty, but to give us facts. There have been times in our history when they have stepped up to that high calling. Now has not been one of those times.

It is imperative that a free citizen be an informed citizen. That is why the Founders set the media apart in our Constitution. We cannot allow this administration or any other to beguile the American public. If there ever has been a time when the media needs to embrace its calling and its creed, now is such a time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Women’s March on Washington – So What?

By Mildred Robertson
Following a day of boycotting inaugural news, it was encouraging to turn on the news and see the number of women and their supporters who poured into the streets of Washington, D.C., New York, and other states across the nation and the world to register their opposition to the new Trump Administration. Right here in Raleigh North Carolina thousands jammed the streets to lift their voices in protest.
The numbers were staggering. The visuals were inspiring and the outpouring of opposition was…well, puzzling. I hesitate to quote Donald Trump, but one of his tweets…just one…made sense. Where were these throngs on Election Day? 
Of course, I know it’s not quite that simple. Voter suppression is real. The Electoral College is outdated. Some Hillary detractors thought it was a good time to make a statement and some folks just didn’t even imagine there was a possibility that Trump would take the White House, with or without their participation. And the fact is, more Americans voted for Hillary than Trump.
As a black woman, I am somewhat off-put that white women would rise up the day after inauguration. Too little too late from my perspective. We did our part. We turned out. We voted. Our sisters of a lighter hue left us to stand almost alone.
There is no reason why the Electoral College should have even come into play. Had the millions who cried out against his inauguration voted against his election, January 20, 2017 would have been a much different kind of day, and the next year would be shrouded in hope rather than despair.
Don’t get me wrong; I am glad that millions rose up to say that Donald Trump does not represent the America they want to live in. I am happy that a movement is underway that will build road blocks to the destructive politics envisioned by the Republican Party with Trump at the helm. It is good that cabinet appointments will be questioned; that legislation will be challenged and politicians will be made keenly aware that they will be held accountable.
But here is my observation. It appears that when black people and brown people were under attack—when America was described as an “us” and “them” kind of nation; many did not rise up until they began to understand that they were not part of the “in” crowd. 
I know many will say, why are you looking back? My answer is simple. Donald Trump has not changed. From his first stump speech to his comments standing before the wall of the slain in the CIA headquarters he is the same belligerent, ignorant, ill-spoken, deceitful, brattish man-child we have known during the entire 2016 campaign.   So it is clear to me that many were not moved by the assault on blacks, or the immigrant, or the physically challenged. Even the assault on women did not move some, in that they appeared not to feel personally threatened.
But as it became clear that Trump would in fact dismantle healthcare, education and the EPA; as it became evident that he cherished the idea of war and a muzzled free-press it also became apparent that the suffering would not just be reserved for minorities and the poor. 
The phrase of the day was “intersectional politics.” I understand and applaud how that intersectionality created an awesome moment in history. But suffering and pain; equality and liberty should be championed whether it intersects with an individual’s own personal reality. How can I trust my plight with you, if your major concern is only whether you are going to be okay?  How can I know that you truly have my back?
I hope that this moment has revealed that every decision we make in America is an intersectional one. The loss of freedom and equality for one American makes that loss one step closer to every American.
So what’s next?
Do the marches on January 21st have meaning, or were they just a moment. Is there clarity about the danger that exists for Americans of all hues and backgrounds? And will solutions be as inclusive…as intersectional as they were the day the women of America marched around the world?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Congressman John Lewis Claims Illegitimate Presidency

John Lewis’ Principled Stand

by Mildred Robertson
Speaking truth to power…that is Congressman John Lewis’ legacy. This is not something that he just believes, it is something that he has actively pursued even under the threat of death. Lewis faced the fury of Southern racism on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 while fighting for the right of all citizens to take part in this country’s political process. He nearly died as a result. So this civil rights icon knows what it means to take a moral stand that is neither popular nor safe. It comes as no surprise that Lewis stands in opposition to what he calls the illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump.
Irregularities in the 2016 Presidential election span discriminatory voting practices across the country, FBI interference in the final days of the election, to a majority vote for the defeated candidate. These irregularities have left this country in a quandary as to what is the true will of the American people. It is difficult not to be partisan in our assessment, but as more and more information is revealed I believe it becomes clear to even an unbiased observer that irregularities in the process have distorted the outcome of this election.
Lewis’ refusal to acknowledge Trump’s presidency is both moral and brave. It is a bravery that many of us have not exhibited in our perhaps misguided desire to show that American politics is the ideal.  We are so very proud of our history of the peaceful transition of power. And we should be. But an uncommon outcome may require an uncommon response.
Many of us hold our tongues as embarrassed Trump supporters give weak excuses about why they voted for him. They implore us to give him a chance, or lament that Clinton was just so wicked that their conscience simply would not allow them to vote for her. They say that they do not hate Muslims or support racism, or sexism, or misogyny. They overlook his observable wickedness and declare that they do not condone the things he did or said on the campaign trail. Of course, he will do better when he is inaugurated, they predict. And we hold our tongues, reluctant to call our co-workers or associates the titles they deserve for catapulting this clearly corrupt man to the highest seat of power in the world.
Thank God for a John Lewis who will say what the rest of America seems to be too politically correct to say. While we huddle in groups, wringing our hands and whispering about what to do next, John Lewis stood up and cried, just as the child in the Hans Christian Anderson tale, “The emperor has no clothes.” It is Lewis’ position that Donald Trump is not the choice of the majority of Americans; his victory is ill-gotten and his presidency is illegitimate.
I applaud Congressman Lewis on his principled stand. History, I believe, will prove that Congressman Lewis stood on the right side of this issue. The question remains, what will the rest of us do. Will we support a presidency that threatens the very foundation of our nation or will we support democracy.