January 21, 2018

Trump Protesters Shouldn’t Give Allen Joines A Free Pass

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Thousands of protestors from around the Triad gathered at Corpening Plaza Saturday to denounce Donald Trump and the politics of hate. It was nice protesting an ugly president on such a beautiful day.

Donald Trump has made life dramatically worse for women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, workers, minorities, and the environment upon which we all depend. (By contrast, Trump has delivered for the billionaire class that elected him)

Indivisible Piedmont NC did a great job of bringing thousands of women and their male allies to Downtown Winston. I hope they succeed in getting enough progressive voters registered to counteract the General Assembly’s gerrymandered voting districts.

The only technical glitch that I noticed at the Triad Women’s March On the Polls 2018 was that the public address system was inadequate for the large crowd gathered at Corpening Plaza. It was difficult hearing the various speakers speak.

I did hear Allen Joines, Mayor, and president of the Winston-Salem Alliance speak. But I can’t say that I was impressed with what I heard from our city’s longest-serving mayor/business promoter. Joines’ comments were brief:

“The constitution begins with the words ‘We the people’ not ‘I the president,’” Joines said, enlisting a ripple of whoops and applause. “Now is the time to mobilize change, not to let a Twitter finger become a trigger finger … Today you are making a difference.”

-Allen Joines (source: The Winston-Salem Journal)

It was nice of Mayor Joines to take a break from his tireless efforts to enrich downtown developers to speak to the little people. But we shouldn’t forget that Mayor Joines doesn’t work for the people of Winston anymore than Trump works for the people of the United States.

As president of the Winston-Salem Alliance, his salary is literally paid by Winston’s wealthy business elite. This is a long-standing conflict of interest that routinely goes ignored in Winston.

It was evident Saturday that Joines hadn’t played the role of a populist in a while. He asked the crowd to “mobilize change.” His word choice sounded very 2008.

I’m glad Joines spoke out against Trump. Our untouchable mayor is not an offensive racist like Trump. But before Joines can speak out publicly against Trump he needs to answer for why he hasn’t spoken out against the equally racist, misogynistic, and anti-immigrant GOP leaders in the General Assembly.

How can we forget Mayor Joines’ deafening silence last year this time when local activists pleaded with the city council to consider becoming a Sanctuary City? Joines refused to even support Dan Besse’s watered down Welcoming City Resolution.

Joines has consistently opposed the city council issuing non-binding resolutions aimed at the General Assembly or Congress. HB2 was the city council’s one exception to the rule. (I believe Mayor Joines abstained from the HB2 vote)

The Greensboro City Council just passed a unanimous resolution calling on Congress to restore DACA.

What stand did Allen Joines and the Winston-Salem City Council take on DACA? They didn’t. I suppose if immigrants want a voice in Winston, then they need to join the Winston-Salem Alliance.

I want to see Donald Trump voted out of office as much as anyone who was assembled at Corpening Plaza yesterday. But Allen Joines’ hollow words are a reminder that Democrats don’t have a progressive vision for our community, let alone the country.

If we want real change, not the token variety, we’ll have to keep organizing and holding politicians’ feet to the fire.




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