The latest round of controversy surrounding former U.S. President Donald Trump and the ongoing fallout continues, revealing the deep divide permeating the country. Facing a 37-count criminal indictment regarding the mishandling of classified documents, Mr. Trump turned himself over to federal authorities in Florida, June 13, where he was arrested, booked, and arraigned on federal charges.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged Mr. Trump caused scores of boxes, containing classified documents, to be moved to The Mar-a-Lago Club, in Palm Beach where he also lives.
While pleading not guilty to 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information and not guilty to one count each of false statements and representations; conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document;
Concealing a document in a federal investigation, and one count of engaging in a scheme to conceal, both supporters and opponents of the former president rallied outside of the United States District Court’s Southern District of Florida in Miami, as local law enforcement worked to keep the two groups separated and to protect the courthouse.
Dr. Stephanie Williams, a political scientist and higher education policy analyst at the University of South Florida, told The Final Call that America is facing an unprecedented set of realities not seen for generations. For significant numbers of citizens to rally behind a former president, impeached twice in office and charged twice for criminal offenses out of office, speaks volumes to the levels of intense dissatisfaction inside the country, she explained.
“What I think is probably going to happen is an increasing backlash on criminal rights laws, and we’ve seen these Republican super-majorities in statehouses go absolutely wild on a lot of social issues, and I wonder if next year they’ll come back and talk about even more regressive laws regarding criminal laws as an effort to say that this is retribution against the Democrats for what they did to Donald Trump,” Dr. Williams said.
Explaining how Left vs. Right politics has its greatest impact on the state and local levels, Dr. Williams noted that the country’s divisions are ripe for exploitation during next year’s election season and that “law and order,” often at the expense of Black people, is a common “go to” refrain during high stakes elections.
According to Dr. Williams, within a party where Mr. Trump remains frontrunner and as a play to White nationalism, Republicans such as Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, who has also announced his own run for the presidency, is seeking to garner votes by inflaming social tensions through the banning of curriculum and books related to the enslavement and genocide of Black and Indigenous people.
“With Trump in place, there is no way that there’s going to be any sense of punishment, any way to correct policies, or any way to rein him in,” Dr. Williams said of what she believes is an unlikely, but nevertheless, possible Trump victory in 2024. “If Biden wins, then that probably means there could be a lot more local level wins, and we can start to turn around some of the policies that were put in place in a Trump and post-Trump era in some of the states.”
Adding that the Midwest may likely pick up more seats in the Congress, Dr Williams said she is not as optimistic for the Southern states. “I think in the South, because of the way some of the voter suppression laws have been put in place in this last election, since they saw they were beaten in 2022, it went further and some of those local elections may be more difficult, and I think it is important for Blacks to focus a lot more on those local races.”
Political science professor, Dr. Eric L. McDaniel, co-director of the Politics of Race and Ethnicity lab at the University of Texas, told The Final Call that the implications of Mr. Trump’s indictment, arrest, and arraignment is uncharted territory on America’s political landscape and that a conviction could lead to dire consequences if not handled thoughtfully and with caution.
“A lot of individuals will believe he’s a political prisoner and this is all about politics, he did nothing wrong, (or) they may say, yes, he did something wrong, but the nation is a mess and that’s why he had to do it,” Prof. McDaniel said of divisions not seen in the country since the end of the Nixon Administration and the closing days of the Vietnam War.
“This will tamp up rhetoric, specifically rhetoric amongst Trump supporters, and I would say to the White nationalists that are in his camp, that there are forces actively working against them and this will increase a sense of paranoia most likely which could lead to a variety of uncivil actions. I’m not saying that we should expect more violence, but I would not be surprised if there was,” Dr. McDaniel explained.
The back-and-forth continues with most Republicans sticking by Trump and arguing that his political rivals are targeting him strictly because of politics. A June CBS News Poll of GOP voters revealed “Republican primary voters said they’re far more concerned that Mr. Trump’s most recent indictment is politically motivated than his alleged conduct being a national security risk—and there’s no evidence it’s hurt his status as the clear front-runner for the 2024 nomination, at least not yet.”
He remains well ahead of rivals in both consideration and vote choice, the poll noted. Conducted June 9-10, the poll indicated that 76 percent of those asked said the indictment was politically motivated compared with only 12 percent who said the taking of the documents was a national security risk. In the same poll, 61 percent of participants said the indictment would not change their views of Mr. Trump. And, 80 percent said even if he is convicted over the classified documents case, he should still be able to be president.
In another ABC News/Ipsos poll also conducted June 9-10, of 910 adults who were a mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, the results were split along political lines with 91 percent of Democrats saying the charges against Mr. Trump were “serious” compared to 63 percent of Independents and only 38 percent of Republicans.
Early Republican primary polling shows Mr. Trump with a sizable lead of Mr. DeSantis. The other Republican candidates are even further behind.
Regarding the unprecedented arrest over a former sitting president, and its implications on the international stage during a major war in Eastern Europe, and the commitment of more U.S. tax dollars to support Ukraine, Prof. McDaniel said Russian involvement in past U.S. elections and the rapid rise of social and alternative media may sew additional discord inside the country as unhappiness with American foreign policy increases on the outside.
“This is kind of a Cold War being played out all over again, where nations that are desperate are taking sides,” Prof. McDaniel explained. “Furthermore, the U.S. involvement in these nations during the Cold War has put a bad taste in people’s mouths when it comes to dealing with Americans, so when Russia or China comes along willing to bail them out, they are more open to them,” he said about BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and the current global political and economic realignment taking place.
“What this means for Americans in general is I think the price of certain things will continue to go up,” Dr. McDaniel said. “People who make a good amount of money, the prices go up, it won’t affect them that much. But those making it check-to-check, this could be very important, so when gas goes up, then they drive less, (but) the problem is if you have to drive to your job every day, there’s no driving less,” he said.
These are the day-to-day bread-and-butter issues adversely affecting the poor, the working-class, and an increasingly shrinking middle-class within what has become confusion among people both at home and abroad, he said.
The angry world
The Eternal Leader of the Nation of Islam, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, described the strife, division, and hostility of a world in which the Black man and woman of America must navigate. He also said that it is time for Black people to rise above their collective condition as a nation and claim their own place as an upright and dignified people.
“The Holy Qur’an teaches us to ‘fear a day where evil is spreading far and wide,’” He wrote in His book, “Our Saviour Has Arrived,” published in 1974. “The resurrection of the mentally dead Black People brings about the anger of those (White man) who put the Black Man to mental death. Both people are angry; the Black slave and the slavemaster. The lack of justice to the Black slave is the cause of this anger,” He described, which is the time now being witnessed in America and the world.
“The Black man is the true owner of the earth,” He insisted on page 200. “Now the God of Justice Has Risen up to Deliver the rule back to the Black Man and give him a place in the sun that justifies his ownership.” But according to the Messenger’s Teachings, while the Black man and woman of America continue to lag, it is only in unity and love of self that the keys to success and liberation may be found. Self-hatred and fear only serve to destroy real progress.
In his keynote address at Union Temple Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., September 21, 2008, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s National Representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, described how ego and vanity undermines good leadership and that to be a true leader one must first become a good servant of the people.
“The Qur’an says, ‘Do no favor seeking gain,’” Minister Farrakhan said. “Don’t do good looking for some good reward, because then your motive is tainted, and The Spirit of God cannot be with what you’re doing!” The Minister continued, “Satan only comes in on a promise God made to you not yet fulfilled; or, a desire that you have that he can grant you on condition that you bow down to him,” he said in part.
“How many of us have the strength to tell Satan, ‘Get behind me!’ If you want what God is going to give you, you don’t care anything about what man can offer you!” (Final Call staff contributed to this report.)