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Interview: Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones on Endorsing President Trump

And I have a choice right now: Do I vote for Joe Biden, a white guy who locked black people up? Or do I vote for President Donald Trump, a white guy who happens to be a Republican, who let black people out of jail and gave them a second chance?”

On April 14th Georgia state representative Vernon Jones made national news for breaking with his party to endorse Republican President Donald Trump. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Jones was denounced by many of his fellow Democrats in Georgia, with endorsements being re-directed towards his primary challenger. Jones, however, indicated at the time: “It’s very simple to me. President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically black colleges and his criminal justice initiatives drew me to endorse his campaign.” Amid the backlash, Rep. Jones initially planned to resign his seat but then reversed course. He currently plans to complete his term and vocally support President Trump’s re-election effort. He joins Merion West and Kambiz Tavana to discuss the backlash, trends he has been noticing in the Democratic Party when it comes to the party’s relationship with African Americans, and his plans to remain a Democrat.

Representative Jones, I wanted to start by asking you about the message you put out on Twitter endorsing President Trump. But, first, recently, I saw a report that you’ve resigned your seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. So we have to clear that up first. 

So let me tell you what happened. When I came out to support and endorse Donald J. Trump for his re-election, the left-wing of the Democratic Party went on the attack, and a lot of mean and hateful things were said via email and phone calls And it was very unfortunate because I felt like someone was trying to silence me—and that the Democratic Party just didn’t have room for a black man with an independent voice and who had conservative leanings. And so I decided not to complete my term. 

Well, within 24 hours and because of the tremendous amount support that I received from the African American community—well, the entire community, I was so moved and motivated and inspired about that amount support. It’s far out weighed all of that bashing from the radical and socialist group of the Democratic Party: that far-left group. And I decided I’m going to stay on the battlefield; I’m going to complete my term, and I’m going to do everything I can to help Donald Trump get reelected and to bring others along with me—black voices that have been silenced by the left-wing of the Democratic Party

So basically, at first, you thought you were very alone and under this pressure. But then when you saw the immense support, you changed your mind?

That’s correct. It was this outburst. It was outcry. It was amazing—I mean from Republicans and Democrats. Young and old, from around the country. Great Americans— patriots. This was people of different races, different origins, and genders. It was just  that they felt my pain, and they understood that my First Amendment [rights] were being taken from me. Talk about voter suppression. The Democrats are supposed to be against voter suppression, but here they were trying to suppress me from voting for the person that I wanted to vote for. That is voter suppression. It was nasty and vicious attacks trying to run me back into a hole. And I said, “I’m no longer going to be a part of this plantation.” I left, and so they can rent that room to somebody else.

Could you tell our readers what happened to you during this time? What were these Democrats doing and what was the message they conveyed to you?

They called me some names I don’t want to say, and I’m not going to repeat because it was nasty. They were outraged; they were angry. They wanted to shut me up. They wanted to scare me. They wanted to bully me; they were literally trying to bully me into silence. And I thought that was very unfortunate, especially from a party that talks about how they are inclusive and that they have diversity. Yes, they are inclusive in terms of  race and gender and age—but not when it comes to African Americans who are independent and have a conservative voice. There’s no room in that party. And for years and years, we’ve been silenced because of being afraid of being bullied by that left-wing.

So I had enough, and I’m finding out now that—around the country—others are coming out. There was the state representative in Michigan [Rep. Karen Whitsett], an African American in the Democratic Party who simply thanked the president for helping her when she had the coronavirus. [This was] based on what he has suggested that people could use, and she just thanked him, and she went under a barrage of attack. Over in Tennessee, another colleague of mine [Rep. John DeBerry Jr.], a state representative who is black—he is a preacher and a minister and had been elected 13 times and served 26 years for his constituents. The Democratic Party was outraged because he was pro-life and he supported school of choice. Well, they voted to take him off the ballot, so he cannot even run as a Democrat. So those extremes like that—the bullying towards those of us who are independent—it’s just outrageous. So this pot has been boiling, and now the lid is coming off. And more and more people are coming out, realizing that the Democratic Party has taken the black vote for granted. We’ve always been there for the party, but the party has never been there for us, and those days are over now.

Representative Jones, you’ve been a state representative for about four years now, if I’m correct?

I served in the House of Representatives in the  1990’s for eight years. Then, I was elected county executive for two terms, and I served eight years there. And then I’ve been back in the legislature about four years.

During all this time—I’m trying to understand these kinds of attack that you’re now receiving. You haven’t changed much in who you are and all the policy positions you’ve held over your career? You just now endorsed President Trump. But, is it safe to say that the rest of your policy is basically the same as it’s always been? 

Yes, I mean I supported President George W. Bush back when I was county executive. Let me tell you: I put my country before my party, and that’s the problem now—with the gridlock and partisan politics. It is not about what’s good for the American people. It’s about numbers—which party outnumbers the other party. And that is what has hurt the American people. And Donald Trump has come on; he’s worked with Democrats, and he’s worked with Republicans. He’s disagreed with both [parties], but, at the same time, he has been results-oriented. He has gotten things done. He’s probably the only president in my lifetime who has done what he said he was going to do.

There’s the point with the black community with the criminal justice reform legislation, where Joe Biden wrote the crime bill that locked blacks up, causing a whole generation of black men to be separated from their families. Here comes President Trump coming back with the First Step Act, allowing them to get out of jail after these egregious sentences so that they can reconnect with their families Also, I attended an historically black college, North Carolina Central University, where I’m a proud graduate. What President Trump did was restore the funding from the previous administration and then wrote it into law: to make sure that funding would be there for them. That was unheard of. No other president has ever done that—that I know of. 

At the same time, there’s the opportunity zone districts for those areas—and a lot of African American communities that were blighted. Now, you can come in, and individuals can invest, revitalize, and improve those neighborhoods. That’s what President Trump has done. So it’s his record, and I support him because of his leadership. And I’m supporting him because of his results. He gets results.

Your constituents probably know you very well, right? They probably know, by now, that if something is good for the community, then that’s what you go with? 

Yes, let me tell you—the people of my district that elected me on many occasions—they know me. They know their calls get returned. They know I provide results. I’ve created investment in infrastructure, provided public safety, built capital project, preserved land, built parks, balanced budgets, and never raised taxes. So I have a track record. [I was] the co-sponsor of the Georgia Peach Care Act, which provides health care to children whose parents either could not afford health care or they were not Medicaid eligible. So people know me; they know my record. But the Democratic Party just cannot accept the fact that I’m not going to go along to get along—and that I’m not going to be silenced by the far-left. Their agenda is not my agenda. Their agenda is not for the African American community.

I can identify with what you’re saying because I’m an immigrant, and I get attacked all the time for supporting President Trump. I don’t understand their argument that I ought not support President Trump because I am an immigrant. But just the same, it’s probably easy for people probably to go after you and say, “You are an African American, so why are you voting for President Trump?” 

That’s the key right there—what you just said. The liberal whites and the far-left liberals and the Democratic Party: they do not want blacks to vote for anything but Democrats. That’s why you see almost 90% of African Americans have been voting for Democrats for the past 50 years and got nothing in return. And so that’s been their goals and objectives: to keep African Americans on the plantation working for them—and not for themselves, or for them working for other African Americans. And the line stops here; the buck stops here. Just because you are an immigrant and they question you, “Why would you vote for President Trump?” Well, you vote for President Trump because he doesn’t mind immigrants coming to this country; he just want them to come here in a legal way and follow the process and get in line like everyone else. He wants to fix the process so more can get over here legally and properly. It’s the same thing; they asked me again—because I’m black I’m not supposed to support a Republican. But Joe Biden, a Democrat—he’s the one who wrote the crime bill and pushed it through Congress, and it was signed by Bill Clinton. That bill destroyed a whole generation of the black community. And I have a choice right now: Do I vote for Joe Biden, a white guy who locked black people up? Or do I vote for President Donald Trump, a white guy who happens to be a Republican, who let black people out of jail and gave them a second chance? That’s a no brainer.

Going back to Democrats and African Americans, Joe Biden got his break in the primaries when he got to South Carolina—because of the black vote.

Great point. The black vote saved Joe Biden in South Carolina. No one can argue with that. It wasn’t the gay vote. It wasn’t the illegal vote. It was the black vote. The black vote has always been there at the foundation for Democrats, and you have white Democrats trying to “out-black” each other. And you have white Democrats trying to “out-black” black Democratic candidates who were running for that black vote, and that happens all the time. And then they get the black vote, but their platform—if you look at the Democratic national platform and the debates, what has it been about? Illegals and the LGBTQ community. Not the black community. But it was the black community that saved Joe Biden.

Do Democrats take the votes of black Americans for granted?

They take them as a captive audience; they don’t need to babysit them. They don’t need to earn their vote. They don’t need to ask for their vote because they just know they’re going to get it. This whole thing is not about me endorsing Donald Trump just because I want to be a Republican or I want the limelight. No, I’m endorsing Donald Trump because of what he’s done specifically for African Americans, and I’m denouncing the bigotry and the Democratic Party for what they do not do for African Americans. So this is a much bigger movement. This is so much bigger than me: This is to get our black voters and get them to become “woke”—because they’ve been asleep at the wheel. And what has happened is that you’re going to start to see—and you are already starting to see—black people not only just saying that the Democratic Party takes us for granted. But you are seeing black people starting to look both ways now before they cross—and see now who has actually done more for me. Is it the Republican, who I’m traditionally supposed to hate, or is it the Democrat, who traditionally I’m supposed to love? But the Republican person is helping you, and the Democratic person is hurting you. What really makes sense is now to take those blinders off, and let’s move forward. And let’s make people earn our vote—and make sure that after they get our vote, that they deliver.

What you’ve been through recently—it’s similar to what happened to Congressman Van Drew in New Jersey. Have you had a chance to look at his experiences or to talk to him about it?

I haven’t had an opportunity to talk to him. I am aware of what he’s experienced. I do know that—around the country—there are others in similar cases And, at this point, I guess with my endorsement of Donald Trump (and him being such a liberal media polarized figure), they’re angry. The liberal media—they are angry that a black who’s conservative, who has an independent mind, has come out and defied the odds and said, “I stand with Donald Trump. You can’t make me think that Donald Trump is a racist.” The liberal media—if anything—they’re the ones who have racist tendencies. 

Representative Jones, you’re still identified as a Democrat, correct?

I am.

And you’re not planning to leave the Democratic Party?

No. Let me tell you: I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me. So I’m going to stand right here, and I’m going to agitate them. I’m going to elbow them until they make room under this tent to accept, appreciate, value, and earn the independent black vote and the black conservative vote. It’s not about leaving the party; the party left me.

I think the key point is when you said that your constituents, who voted for you, know you very well and trust you to make a decision that is good for them—and not just for you. 

Right—I made my personal choice. They know that, for the past 30 years, I’ve been in this business. They know that I’m a person who is results-oriented. I’ve changed and improved their neighborhoods. We can’t agree on everything. I don’t agree with everything President Trump does, but I do recognize, appreciate, and can give him credit for his record—and what he has specifically done to help the African American community, as well as every community. This is whether you’re an immigrant, whether you’re black, white, blue, brown, male, female, whatever your orientation might be. President Trump had this economy humming before this pandemic crisis, with job creation, investments, people working, and people able to get a mortgage and own a home and send their kids to college. This economy was humming. He has put America first, and how can you deny that? That’s the problem; we had other leaders before us that just sold out to other countries, where American hasn’t been first. America has been last. 

When you endorsed George W. Bush for President, was the backlash from Democrats similar? 

Yes. As a matter of fact when I supported him then, I ran for the United States Senate. But the Democratic Party got mad at me and jumped in my race. I got the most votes in the primary—but then after I was ahead in the primary by about ten points—then Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and all those national Democrats started funding my opponent. They did not want me to win this election. So this is not my first time at this rodeo. That’s what they do. But we are tired of it; we’re just simply tired of it. I’m tired of it. And I’m going to do everything I can to expose the bigotry in the Democratic Party. 

Thank you so much for the time, Representative Jones. I appreciate your courage. But again, as long your constituents know why you did what you did—the rest of it doesn’t matter.

Thank you so much. And I want to say to any of your readers: If they want to contact me, they can go on Twitter. And my Twitter name is @RepVernonJones. Or they can email me at friendsofvernonjones@gmail.com.

Thank you.

Take care.

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