It goes without saying that race relations in this country could be and probably have been better.
Since the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman episode of 2012 there has been a heightened awareness about race in our society, brought to us in part by the media and in part by so-called activists focused on white-on-black or police-on-black incidents.
The spotlight shined on incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, Baton Rouge and even to some degree Mobile have created a feeding frenzy, leading us to a perception black Americans’ lives are under a constant threat from law enforcement.
But what is the reality?
Although there are some bad actors in our society — including law enforcement, in some cases — who have a total disregard for racial sensitivities, is it fair to say there is an epidemic of black men being gunned down by whites in the streets of America?
Just for a moment, suppose the reality is as much of this has been played for purely self-serving political reasons. It’s not far-fetched given the backdrop is an election cycle with a lot at stake. Emphasizing divisions is something politicians of all stripes have used as a campaign tactic throughout U.S. history.
“If you don’t vote for candidate x, candidate y is going to do [insert scary government policy] to you.”
For Black Lives Matter protesters, do you want your cause to suffer because your emotions are being ginned up just because someone wants to better their election chances?
It’s what politicians do. Remember Vice President Joe Biden in 2012 in the middle of the contest between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney for the presidency?
“[Romney] is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street,” Biden said to an African-American audience in Danville, Virginia. “He is going to put y’all back in chains.”
The end goal of that speech probably wasn’t to expose an audience to some sort of economic policy Biden wanted to institute, but instead to energize the black vote in the swing state of Virginia.
There are consequences when you take this method too far.
Last week in Dallas, Texas, five police officers were killed and an additional seven police officers and two civilians were injured in a shooting during a BLM protest in Dallas. The suspected shooter, 25-year-old Micah Johnson, claimed he was upset about the cause BLM champions, according to Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
It’s fair to say we’ve reached the boiling point with regard to race.
But at this point, the movement might be hurting the black community by expending its political capital for the wrong reasons. As things stand now, this will likely be the most racially divided election in the U.S. in at least a generation.
There are people who view the situation in a completely different way. To a lot of people, the protesters seem to have a total disregard for the rule of law. Police shootings and race riots in the name of BLM will instead motivate some to vote for a law-and-order president. Right now, given the two majority party options, it seems to be Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton.
This could be history repeating itself.
In the lead-up to the 1968 presidential election, there were race riots in Baltimore, New York City, Chicago and Detroit, inspired by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis earlier that year.
When Americans went to the ballot box, however, they elected Richard Nixon. Nixon ran on a campaign to restore law and order to the nation’s cities, touting the “silent majority” as his constituents.
Nixon won the popular vote over his Democratic Party opponent, Hubert Humphrey, by a narrow 0.7 percent margin, but trounced Humphrey in the Electoral College by a margin of 301 to 191.
That is arguably what we have now — a very vibrant and vocal minority and a silent majority.
When it comes time to go to the ballot box, the silent majority’s vote counts just as much as the vocal minority’s vote.
November’s results could contradict what we see in the news media, which gives the impression there’s fury out in the streets of America. Remember, there a lot more people not in the streets who could be totally disgusted by how things have evolved with the violence.
If you’re a Black Lives Matter protester, this is something to consider. Threatening to hold protests in the middle of an interstate highway because you believe it will raise the public’s awareness of your cause to inconvenience people just trying to live their lives is self-defeating.
Instead, the person you’re allegedly trying to make “aware” is going to react much differently and vote for a candidate who isn’t sympathetic to your cause.
If that candidate is elected, then your cause has been set back.
Consider that the next time you threaten to obstruct highways and think, “How many black lives will this actually save in the end?”