Let’s deal with an important point straightaway — is Congressman John Lewis completely right about announcing his plans to sit out of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration?
Well, sure. Like it or not, this is America.
Folks can wear “All Lives Matter” T-shirts, drink corn liquor by an open fire and swear that the last US President was born in Muslim-saturated Africa just as much as Lewis can decide to chill at home near his fireplace on inauguration day.
Even declared moral convictions — regardless of what I think about them — which prohibit others from watching Trump take the Presidential oath of office fall within their right to do so.
But presenting the “Trump Presidency is illegitimate because of Russia’s interference” story — in the absence of verifiable evidence — as a reason for sitting out of the inauguration is a thought not rooted in facts.
But — the Congressman may have seen data unavailable to me. I’ll save that point for another day.
But Trump’s barrage of insults aimed at Lewis’ leadership over the “crime-infested” Fifth Congressional District is confusing, needlessly vindictive as well as indicative of how Trump doesn’t have a clue about the power of the office he’s going to assume.
Lewis is a national hero who risked his life to make America live up to its promise of equality and justice. He’s one of our wise elders as well.
Those of you who are down with identifying anyone over 60 years old as glue factory candidates will miss this point — if Lewis walked off a subway train, stormed over to me and then began to lecture about something I supposedly did wrong, I would take my tongue-lashing. And take some notes.
I may not have agreed with the Congressman, but he’s earned that level respect from me.
But Trump’s childish insistence on having the last word in any exchange of opinions caused him lose even more juice with the African American community just now — as well as blow a big opportunity to build a bridge between his Presidency and yet another community which progressively resents him.
Instead of sending a stream of tweets to insult Lewis’ Congressional district, Trump could have pursued a more mature and Presidential route by calling Lewis.
Yup, Lewis deserves a phone call. From Trump. With no intermediaries involved.
During the call, Trump could have said something like: “I really want to see you at the inauguration, Congressman. But of course I’ll have to accept your decision not to come. In any case, let’s schedule a meeting where we can develop some tangible solutions to help your district and allow the success of those solutions to become a boilerplate for addressing community challenges across the country.”
I can’t imagine Lewis refusing that offer.
The Fifth Congressional District — Lewis’ legislative jurisdiction which includes the city of Atlanta and some nearby suburbs — has problems neither he nor we can ignore.
Like a notable education achievement gap.
One of the highest Gini Coefficients among large US cities.
An African American unemployment rate that flirts with recession territory, if Black Atlantans were viewed as a nation.
And a high child poverty rate among African Americans. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 80% of Atlanta’s Black children live in communities with high concentrations of poverty.
I imagine that Lewis would be keen to partner with Trump to improve these numbers.
Of course Trump’s myopic “win this deal” mentality will not permit him to make such a call, even if American society wins in the end.
You can also imagine peter metering, bully tweeting and narrow-minded deal-seeking will be Trump’s approach to dealing with other nations.
And these character flaws are additional reasons why Trump will not have a steady four years in office …
song currently stuck in my head: “what you gonna do after the party” – willie hutch