One Man’s Opinion: Vernon 2.0

“They’re intimidating you. You’re afraid to even say who you’re voting for, or to wear paraphernalia. They’re instilling fear inside of you about what the consequences will be if Trump is elected. And this is real voter suppression,” said Georgia State Representative Vernon Jones (D-DeKalb/Rockdale counties) to The Washington Times after being accosted by protesters near the White House following President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech of his party nomination at the Republic National Convention, Thursday evening, August 27, 2020

To residents of metro Atlanta and particularly DeKalb County, former DeKalb county government CEO and current State Representative Vernon Jones has more political lives than a cat. Love him or loathe him, the longtime elected official makes his voice and presence known. Most recently, not satisfied with the leadership or direction of the Democratic National Committee, or apparently the state Democratic Party, Jones made a public endorsement for the re-election of Republican President Donald Trump.

Call it a stunt, or a play for a high paying campaign job, or call it irrelevant, but Jones was invited to the White House, and then given a highly visible prime-time perch to explain his thoughts and rationale for a lifelong Democrat and multi-term office holder, on why he would break from his own party, particularly during such a hotly contested election. In 2004, Georgia’s former Governor and then junior Senator, Zell Miller gave the keynote speech at the RNC gathering in New York to re-nominate President George W. Bush. Miller was also a lifelong Democrat who had nominated Bill Clinton for President at the DNC in 1992. Jones himself had shared publicly on prior occasions that at least once, he had voted for President George W. Bush.

I don’t recall much being lobbed in the direction of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, or any of nearly 150 other former GOP National Security senior White House staff, Generals, and Cabinet members endorsing Biden, over their party standard-bearer. During the 2016 election, all prior living GOP presidential nominees and White House residents...George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush each made clear their disdain for a Trump presidency. Were Trump supporters displeased, hell yeah, but I don’t recall anyone chasing any of these folks down in the streets.

But that is much of what happened to Trump supporters leaving the White House on the final night of the RNC gathering and following the President’s nomination acceptance speech. U.S. Senator Rand Paul and his wife were first accosted by a throng of protesters, with both being knocked down in the streets, just blocks outside the White House compound. Jones and his guest were a few steps behind when the practical mob turned their attention in his direction.

I have witnessed multiple videos of this practical assault on Jones and his date, both Black Americans, primarily by Black protesters. Loud questions were first shouted, “Do you support Trump? Say, Breonna Taylor, Say Ahmad Arbery, Say George Floyd...Say Black Lives Matter!!”

And then more heated..."Race traitor, House N____, You are a f___ disgrace! and many words and phrases which I cannot and will not repeat in a family publication. To his credit, Jones, not known for being the coolest of cucumbers remained calm and protected his guest, moving her to his side, as D.C. police, using their bicycles as physical shields, surrounded and encircled Jones and his friend as they attempted to simply walk to their hotel. The remarks became louder, with protestors pressing close to Jones' face. Some in the crowd grabbed his lapels, others shoved the police officers, as they pushed in all the while screaming in a cacophony, an assault of insults, racial taunts, and degrading epithets. Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is in many ways being stoked by these endless protests and the fears which they stir up. Pollsters may be unable to get honest replies from voters facing twin fears of physical harm or being labeled racist.

Vote however you want, and support whomever you choose. But there is NO justification, for threatening or accosting someone else for simply not agreeing with you. The ‘old’ younger Vernon Jones would have likely escalated this situation, perhaps resulting in more serious circumstances for all involved. But this Vernon 2.0 knew better, remained calm, and kept the protection of his friend and not immediately swinging back as priorities. He made a better choice. I won’t speak to his choice in Presidential candidates, other than to say by reacting as they did, the protesting mob only magnified the sound of Jones’s voice and his vote. And some folks are listening.

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