Hostage the U.S. Economy to End Racism in America

Donald Trump has lit America on fire. He has proudly aligned himself with white nationalists while failing to fulfill his constitutional obligation to mitigate the harm that COVID-19 has wreaked on America’s health and her economy.  

On 5/29/2020 at 12:53 AM, via Twitter, President Trump threatened to shoot people protesting the needless death of a handcuffed, African-American male, George Floyd, who was murdered by 4 Minneapolis police officers while Mr. Floyd begged “I can’t breathe, man.”



Over the last four centuries, America has seen this racist story repeated in various permutations. Only rarely are the racist perpetrators incarcerated. 

When an African American is killed by a police officer, we are told to be patient and “allow the judicial system to play out.” Because of the rules governing our judicial system, the vast majority of implicated police officers are never found guilty, as the system concludes there were “extenuating” circumstances which justified the killing of the unarmed citizen.

The plea to “be patient and allow justice to work its course” is the same modis operandi that Republican politicians espouse every time there is a mass shooting: “our hearts and minds go out to the victims” or “the Democrats are playing politics with this catastrophe.” Then time passes, a new crisis arises, the injustice is forgotten and the status quo is left intact.

Long ago, morality demanded that we end racism, but there was no mechanism to upset the status quo and force institutional change. Now there is a way forward.

The last 4-5 decades of American history has demonstrated that Republican politicians are primarily motivated by money, specifically their desire to further enrich the wealthy. They have done this by altering laws and tax code to achieve their end. This maniacal devotion to enriching the rich (which requires a robust economy) can be used as a means to moderate/end racism in America.

Trump’s inability to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus on America has tanked the US economy. Trump and Republicans are now apoplectic that this will doom their changes in the 2020 election. As a result, the Administration and Republican governors are underreporting new COVID-19 cases while frantically pushing everyone to re-open the economy, even though every responsible public health official has urged caution.

Paraphrasing Rahm Emanuel, ”Never let a (political) crisis go to waste.” By holding the U.S. economy hostage, we can use the Republican politicians’ concern about the failing US economy to maximize our political leverage to institute rules/laws/edicts that have the potential to end racism in America.

Americans, governors, senators and members of the House of Representatives, who believe that racism is a paramount immorality, must do everything legally possible to hold the U.S. economy hostage until our government has instituted the necessary guide rails to ensure that we are on a path to end racism. They should insist that anti-racism legislation is a prerequisite for their support of any legislation that is designed to improve our economy. 

Moral intellectuals, social leaders and politicians should publicly encourage businesses and institutions to help end racism by placing a sign on their front door and in their advertisements which says “I support Black Lives Matter.” 

Moral citizens can then vote with their pocketbooks, by choosing to do business only with those who display the “I support Black Lives Matter” movement. There will be no “free pass” for business/institutions who want to be “neutral” or “non-political;” either you support the racists or you abhor racism, there is no moral middle ground. Silence is complicity.

Maybe these actions will hobble the U.S. economy just enough to force the Republicans and the “pro-police” constituency to reassess their knee-jerk support for America’s racist police, judicial and institutional processes.

U.S. Constitution, Fifth Amendment. No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty… without due process of law…

Morality and the U.S. Constitution recognize that life and liberty are intrinsic human rights. It’s time that moral America align its pocketbook with America’s ideals. Let’s make the racists, apologists and their co-conspirators literally pay the price. Let’s use this crisis to make America better for all Americans.

Hayward Zwerling


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