We have a choice in November: Style versus substance

‘We have a choice in November; the outcome will be the difference between continued freedom and bondage,’ said Dr. Goliath J. Davis. 


For far too long, politicians, elected officials and some members of the clergy have assumed people of color can be seduced, fooled and bamboozled by flash, glamor and slick talk. Many think they can convince us to vote or act against our interest by simply delivering a moving sermon, emotional speech or some other gimmick.

Recently, a candidate for president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, proudly proclaimed he is confident he will secure the Black vote because Black people love his new fundraising sales gimmick: gold sneakers. How insulting!

Yet, I cannot deny that some of my people will drink the Kool-Aid. One need only watch a Trump rally to see that long before the golden sneaker and Bible campaigns, far too many people of color had already fallen under the Trump mystic.

President Joe Biden admittedly doesn’t display Trump’s style, but he has qualities that really matter, and a very important one is substance. I have grown weary of hearing potential voters, young and old, complain about President Biden’s age, given he is only four years older than Trump.

When one peels back the layers and looks beneath the surface, it becomes readily apparent that despite the desires of many to the contrary, we have a binary choice between style and substance, good versus evil, wisdom versus ignorance and decency versus indecency.

Trump is very adept at sales and marketing. He understands that one needs only to tell a story repeatedly to ensure it hits the target, and it does not matter if the story is a lie. He has managed to capture the grievances voiced by many in the electorate, and he champions their agendas. Regrettably, the agendas are divisive, racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and sexist. Sadly, Trump believes what they believe.

When one evaluates Trump’s record, it clearly illustrates who he is and what he values. Money and material possessions are central to his core. He uses Reagan’s “Let’s Make America Great Again ” slogan to promote his campaigns against Muslims, Mexicans, Blacks, the LGBTQIA+ community and others from what he termed “sh_t hole countries.”

As president, he signed legislation to award corporations and the affluent while penalizing the middle class and people in need. He incited an insurrection attempting to remain in office, installed three conservative Supreme Court justices to ensure citizen rights (voting, reproductive, etc.) were denied and stole highly confidential government documents.

Trump currently faces 91 indictments and has been convicted of sexual assault and fraud. He cites his legal issues as another reason Black folk will support him, suggesting we are inherently criminal.

Mr. Trump is, by his words and actions, a misogynist; he favors authoritarian rulers and demonstrates authoritarian tendencies. If re-elected, he vows to withdraw from NATO and allow Russia’s President Putin to assault NATO countries. These actions pose grave risks for America and other democratic nations worldwide. Trump ordered Republican lawmakers to oppose aid to Ukraine as punishment for its role in his impeachment and to assist Putin in his attempt to overthrow Ukraine’s government.

Young Americans, male and female, should have serious concerns. If Russia succeeds and the war expands, it may become necessary to insert American soldiers. The current demographics of the military are such that Black and Brown men and women will undoubtedly play a significant role. Their body bags will surely reach our shores.

By the consensus of many, Biden is a decent, empathetic, competent man. He is admittedly old, but by virtue of his experience, he is a wise, talented politician and policymaker. As president, he has demonstrated an ability to accomplish feats his predecessor could not.

For example, he successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in an expeditious dispensation of vaccines and an increased survival rate. President Biden passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which resulted in much-needed infrastructure repairs, improvements, and jobs in cities and states nationwide. The programs are so successful that Republican lawmakers who voted against the bill now appear at ribbon cuttings and celebrations in their home districts, claiming credit.

Biden expanded the American Care Act (Obamacare), successfully passed legislation for drug cost reductions, lowered the cost of insulin to $35, secured benefits for toxic-exposed military veterans and supported the right of women to control their bodies.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have received $11 billion in aid from the Biden administration. Student debt relief to the sum of $140 billion has been awarded and much of the student loan debt has been eliminated or reduced. Trump and his party opposed the initiatives and continue to do so.

Workers have also benefited from President Biden’s leadership. The increase in microchip production under his leadership has provided high-paying jobs, the minimum wage has increased and the employment rate is higher than it has been at any other time in history, thereby ensuring those who want to work can do so. Additionally, guaranteed overtime pay has been expanded for an additional 3.6 million workers.

Investors are also being rewarded. The stock market is soaring, and those who invest are securing great returns. Pundits comment daily on the market’s performance when they refute allegations from Republicans that we are experiencing a poor economy. Regrettably, inflation is still high; however, it is falling as we continue to recover from the COVID economy.

Trump and his political party have worked vigorously to impede voting rights and legislation to control police malpractice. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the George Floyd legislation are still on Biden’s agenda, but we must elect additional Democratic representatives and senators to ensure they make it out of Congress.

So, it is clear that we have a choice to make, and in my opinion, if we are to honor our ancestors who fought and died for our right to do so, the choice does not include not voting in November or voting for a third-party candidate. We must vote, and the choices are clear: good over evil, competence over style, decency over indecency, wisdom over ignorance, and racial tolerance over racial intolerance.

Do we vote for one who, to my knowledge, has not proclaimed a religious faith? One who gave us three Supreme Court justices to overturn and restrict our rights and one who constructed a wall to deny people of color an opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Or do we vote for an avowed Catholic with a proven record of supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion? One who selected a woman of color as the first female vice president in history and who, in addition to appointing more people of color to his cabinet and staff than anyone else in recent history, also appointed the first African-American female to the highest court in the land — the Supreme Court? President Biden is responsible for all of the latter accomplishments. His demonstrated commitment to diversity is unquestionable.

We have a choice in November; the outcome will be the difference between continued freedom and bondage.

Dr. Goliath Davis is a former St. Petersburg police chief and deputy mayor who advocates for education in Pinellas County, focusing on Black student achievement.

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