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Racial politics then and now
Bob Franken
Bob Franken is an Emmy-winning journalist. - photo by File photo

In my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, back in the late 1950s they closed the public schools down rather than desegregate. But since high-school sports were as big as in Texas, they kept the football season going. The saying around town that year was that the teams were “Undefeated, Untied and Uneducated.”

Fast-forward 60-plus years. This year, so many schools are once again closed, but at least some of their teams are also not playing football, nor any sports. It’s too dangerous, thanks to the pandemic. 

Now we are overwhelmed with more than a quarter-million people killed by the coronavirus and more than 12 million cases in the United States since the plague began. And, yes there is a racism factor involved: The infection rate disproportionately affects minorities, largely due to the fact that they are among the nation’s poorer citizens.

To say that the Trump administration’s response to this crisis has been dismal understates disastrous. From day one, it has been a tragedy of errors. Nearly every responsible government agency has been irresponsible, near every decision has been wrong and/or carried out in ways that give new meaning to the word “incompetent.” 

Those who know what they’re doing have been sidelined because they were unwilling to parrot the party line that the coronavirus was no big deal. And we are talking about the Trump party here, with one member. Since the beginning, President Donald Trump has insisted that the invisible attacker would have minimal effect, would “miraculously” disappear after a brief period, and it wasn’t worth getting our protective gear in a knot about it. 

What protective gear? Even after all the flailing around, even after the president demonstrated his nonstop ignorance, he was able to intimidate many governors and local officials to prematurely abandon the lockdown, which was wreaking havoc on the economy but which was starting to work. Eleven months later, the invisible viral enemy is still mercilessly slaughtering our citizens.

Trump moved on to other things to distract from the miserable job he and his people had done. What did he choose? Well, bigotry, of course. When Black and white people together rose up in the wake of the George Floyd killing by police, Trump predictably sided with the white supremacists and ran as a demagogue trying to stoke racial fears this this country. In other words, whatever worked.

Except it didn’t work. It was all about Donald Trump getting a second term. But he was beaten by about 5 million in the popular vote and the electoral college tabulation, 306-232.

As we all know, Donald Trump is not about to let getting beaten beat him. Having gotten away with flim flam all his life, he is flaming the constitution, looking for an angle, any angle, to steal the election. 

He doesn’t care how much he is shattering the nation. As far as he is concerned, in politics, he has never lost. Why? Because he said so. But January 20, he’ll discover that this racist lost the race. 

Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.

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