Leaders of the US of A by Susan Grimsdell
Next year the US will hold a presidential election and Trump is going to run, hoping for a second term.
I was thinking back to June 11, 1963 when another president was in office: John F Kennedy. He addressed the nation on that day about the issue of civil rights. At the time, in many parts of the USA, black people had to send their kids to separate (and inferior) schools, they had to use toilets and drinking fountains marked “blacks”, they were not allowed to have lunch in cafes marked “whites”, they could only use motels marked “blacks”, they were not allowed even to vote. Time and again black men were dragged from their homes and lynched by the KKK – men wearing white robes and carrying flaming torches. The terror is unimaginable.
“This issue is a moral issue,“ said Kennedy. “It is as old as the Scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution”. He vowed to stop discrimination against black people and sent a bill to Congress to give black people the right to have the full and free life enjoyed by whites. After he was murdered, Lyndon Johnson supported the bill and it became the law of the land.
Can anyone reading this imagine Trump standing up like that?
Your vote matters
It’s 56 years since Kennedy made that passionate speech and the world has changed. The President then was committed to doing what was right, despite the unpopularity of the idea of equality for black people and even knowing it would lose him votes. Now we have Donald Trump in the job, Donald, who sanctioned tearing kids away from their families, whose policy involves arresting hundreds of people and deporting them. Trump, who spoke of the KKK as “having a legitimate point of view”.
This is such a powerful example of things not getting better just because time goes by. The key fact is, who gets to lead a country is in voters’ hands. We worry about the person in the job but we should also worry about the people who vote. That’s us – you and me, in NZ as well as in the USA.
What do we want our country to be – the kind that’s inspired by Kennedy’s vision or the kind someone like Trump would give us. I know my answer, and I’ll look at the candidates in my local election and vote accordingly.