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"Embracing the Power of Choice: January 6th, Freedom to Believe or Not?"

Updated: Jan 6

By Antonio Merrick





Amid debates about whether America had become a post-racial society around 2016, I found myself reflecting on the myriad freedoms we enjoy in our country. Though not often discussed, one of these freedoms is the freedom to believe - the freedom to embrace our convictions or choose not to believe at all. This profound notion initially inspired me to embark on a mission I termed "A New Age of Reasoning," intending to voice unwavering truths.


However, my first attempt at this blog and platform abruptly stopped when I realized that truth is an intricate subject encompassing various forms. My initial pursuit was focused on absolute truth. Still, as I delved deeper, I discovered a spectrum of truths - historical, spiritual, scientific, experiential, philosophical, relative, subjective, objective, and even consensus truth. The complexity of truth gave me pause.


The events leading up to January 6th, 2021, and the unfolding aftermath granted me the courage to address a critical concern - the lack of social responsibility evident in media, politics, and public discourse. This deficiency threatened the fundamental right of every American: the freedom to believe what they choose.


As an African American Republican, particularly during my time at a historically black college, I had always been a free thinker. I often challenged the consensus truth, where individuals collectively agree on a particular idea or belief. Capitalism and patriotism consistently sparked debates, and I advocated for policies that I later realized aligned with conservative principles. My college professor at Shaw University, Yancey Yarbrough, encouraged me to embrace my identity as a black Republican openly.

Leaving college marked a turning point. I began to face scrutiny and name-calling from fellow black individuals on social media who labeled me a "sellout" for my active involvement in the Republican movement. Little did they know that I also worked with minority leaders and communities on various policies. In Northern Virginia, black Republicans successfully encouraged white Republicans to join the Prince William County VA NAACP, secured GOP endorsement for Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and pushed for "banning the box" concerning employment in the state government. These achievements illustrated the formidable power of consensus truth, yet I was deemed a "sellout" for working to uplift our people from a different perspective.


Now residing in Southeast Georgia, I am met with a different landscape. Here, the grip of consensus truth within the GOP is even more vital. I am labeled a RINO (Republican In Name Only) or Moderate Republican because I do not subscribe to the belief that the 2020 election was stolen, not a MAGA cult member and I continue to collaborate with organizations like the Camden County GA NAACP. On both sides of this dilemma, it is an all-or-nothing scenario where I am pressured to conform to a single belief dictated by consensus.


I firmly believe that black and white families desire the same things for our country. I believe that uniting conservative communities, regardless of race, is the only path for the GOP to succeed in the 2024 election. However, the stronghold of consensus truth prevents me from openly embracing this belief.


Donald Trump's conviction that he won the 2020 election and the intense polarization it has generated showcase the overwhelming power of belief. His influence has led many to question the very foundations of our democracy. January 6th was not born in 2021; it traces back to 1947 with the Hutchins Commission. While it rightly aimed to prevent government ownership of media, it overlooked the need for private organizations to uphold their social responsibility. As a result, we now have liberal and conservative media platforms geared towards reinforcing consensus-building information. The larger the platform, the more significant the impact on policy. Barrack Obama used his platform to bring about significant change for the LGBTQ community, and Donald Trump has similarly shaped his party's policies through his platform. However, Trump's legacy may be remembered for deepening divisions and fears among his followers, potentially reshaping the Republican Party's future for the worst.


In this environment, where beliefs can be manipulated to serve political ends, it becomes increasingly vital for individuals to exercise discernment, critical thinking, and a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue. We must strive for a society where diverse perspectives are respected and consensus does not stifle our fundamental freedoms. We can only navigate the complexities of belief and truth through open and respectful discourse, fostering an atmosphere of unity and understanding in our ever-evolving democracy.


In conclusion, the freedom to believe and the consequences of consensus truth have profoundly shaped my journey as a black Republican and my perspective on the state of our nation's discourse. As we reflect on these issues, we must navigate the complexities of belief and truth, striving for a society where diverse perspectives are respected and consensus does not stifle our fundamental freedoms.

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