The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II went to Union Theological Seminary in New York City on Sept 1, 2016, to speak with a gathering of national religious and faith leaders. These leaders are speaking out against the divisive policies and rhetoric being used in the Presidential campaign against Blacks, poor Whites, and Latinos. In his discussion, Dr. Barber directly refutes the current cynical appeal made recently by Donald Trump when Trump asks, “What have you got to lose?”
Rev. Barber points out, “We know better than anyone that poison, which is not so much what is in your heart as what is in your policies. “
Rev. Barber goes on to link the creation of the Southern Strategy by the Republican strategists in the 1960’s — and its subsequent deployment by Nixon, Reagan, and Bush in order to instill fear and divisiveness in the public discourse — with the tactics being practiced by Donald Trump in the current presidential campaign.
“Trump is attempting to pivot from months of race-baiting and inflammatory language. As with the Southern Strategy of his predecessors, his focus is to court fearful whites with coded language and fear-mongering while avoiding the stigma of overt racism.”
“Just as the Southern Strategy focused on creating disdain for the social programs that were targeted to lift people out of poverty, so Trump’s question, ‘What have you got to lose?’ is an insult to Blacks and poor white America.”
“There are millions more poor white people than the total number of black people in this country. The worst lie of our time is that extreme policies do not equally hurt poor white people in gaining access to health care, housing, voting rights, in the ability to earn a living wage and to receive a quality public education.”
“Racism is not simply prejudice, it is the ability to implement policies” that hurt targeted demographics.
Dr. Barber repeatedly asks, “What is it that causes people to vote against their own self-interest?” He suggests that the answer lies in a grownup conversation on how people treat and lift up others around them.
Dr. Barber concludes that, “When we know where your treasure is — your policies on health care, education, immigration, gender issues, equal protection under the law, environmental stewardship — then we will know where your heart is. If the heart of your policies are far from the things that deal with eradicating injustice, then no matter what you say, it is the policies you espouse that tell the true story in your heart.”