The World and Everything in It — February 19, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Democrats have counted on black voters for decades. But President Trump is making a bid for their support by pointing out economic improvements under his administration.

TRUMP: African American poverty has declined to the lowest rate ever recorded.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: We’ll talk about that strategy on Washington Wednesday.

Also today, World Tour.

Plus in the 19th century, a former slave broke barriers as a missionary and an educator. We’ll tell you about her remarkable life.

AUDIO: We informed them that we were missionaries, come to live with them, and do them good.

And Joel Belz takes an informal survey of voters ahead of the 2020 election.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, February 19th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!

REICHARD: Now news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump commutes sentence of former IL gov. Blagojevich » President Trump on Tuesday commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The 63-year-old Democrat exhausted his last appellate option in 2018 and had seemed destined to remain behind bars until his projected 2024 release date.

Many, including Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfood quickly denounced the move. 

LIGHTFOOT: This is a man who was a governor of our state. He committed crimes, as found by a jury of his peers. He’s got to accept responsibility for that. 

Blagojevich was found guilty of crimes that included seeking to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and trying to shake down a hospital. 

But the president said Blagojevich has served more than enough time already.

TRUMP: He’ll be able to go back home with his family after serving eight years in jail. That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion. 

The president also commuted several other sentences and pardoned several people on Tuesday. 

Among those he pardoned was former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik. He served three years in prison beginning 2010 for tax fraud and lying to officials. 

Trump also pardoned the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Edward DeBartolo. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to covering up an extortion plot involving licensing of a casino.

Judge refuses to delay Stone sentencing » A federal judge on Tuesday refused to delay sentencing for Roger Stone. That as President Trump kept up his unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant and said he wouldn’t be quieted on social media even if he’s making things harder for his attorney general.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson plans to sentence Stone on Thursday, as scheduled. She said delaying the sentencing “would not be a prudent thing to do.”

Stone’s defense team has requested a new trial and had asked Jackson to delay sentencing until she rules on that motion.

A new set of prosecutors was in court Tuesday after the original team resigned last week in protest. That after Attorney General William Barr overruled their recommendation that Stone serve at least seven to nine years in prison.

Bloomberg joins Democratic rivals on debate stage » There will be one new candidate on the podium for tonight’s presidential debate in Las Vegas: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg qualified for the debate after he soared into third place in an average of national polls with nearly 15 percent support. 

His Democratic rivals charge that Bloomberg’s deep pockets give him an unfair advantage. 

SANDERS: Mr. Bloomberg, like anybody else, has a right to run for president. He does not have a right to buy the presidency!

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders heard there, campaigning in Richmond, California. As former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has sputtered out of the gate, Sanders has surged. At 25 percent, he now leads Biden by 7 points in that national average. He also has a big lead in two recent Nevada polls. 

Tonight’s debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern. It will be televised on NBC.

WHO equipping countries to battle coronavirus » The director general of the World Health Organization says many countries must better prepare themselves to deal with the COVID-19 coronavirus. Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said Tuesday …

GHEBREYESUS: Many of these countries have been sending samples to other countries for testing, waiting several days for results. 

He said the WHO is sending testing equipment to dozens of those nations. 

Officials say the risk within the United States remains low. But the Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned…

FAUCI: Given how this is such a dynamic situation globally, that risk could change. So we’re telling our American citizens to not be fearful, to not be afraid, but to keep an eye out on it. 

The latest numbers show that COVID-19 has infected more than 73,000 people globally, mostly in China with more than 1,800 deaths. 

Boy Scouts files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy » The Boy Scouts of America has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it urges victims of sexual abuse to come forward. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Recent changes in statute of limitations laws in several states have unleashed hundreds of sex abuse lawsuits against the Boy Scouts. The 110-year-old organization filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday in an attempt to craft a victim compensation plan.

Chapter 11 protection would enable the group to put those cases on hold for now and continue operating. But ultimately the Boy Scouts could be forced to sell some of its vast property holdings, including campgrounds and hiking trails, to raise money. The victims compensation fund could top $1 billion. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: President Trump makes an appeal to African American voters.

And Paul Butler recounts the remarkable life of Betsey Stockton.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 19th of February, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. First up: Washington Wednesday.

Late last year, President Trump’s reelection campaign rolled out a bold effort to reach black voters. It’s called Black Voices for Trump. 

African American voters have supported Democrats by wide margins for more than 50 years. But President Trump believes economic realities could convince some voters to switch their allegiance. 

He made his case repeatedly during the State of the Union address earlier this month.

TRUMP: We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting our citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed very, very high. The unemployment rate for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans has reached the lowest levels in history. African American youth unemployment has reached an all-time low. African American poverty has declined to the lowest rate ever recorded.

REICHARD: Positive statistics, certainly, yet the president has had a tough time making his case broadly to African American voters. 

But there are some policies of the Trump administration that align more closely with black voters’ values than that of any of the Democratic candidates. And that could make enough of a difference in November to send the president back to the White House.

BASHAM: Joining us now to talk about it is Jamie Dean. She’s national editor for WORLD Magazine and wrote about Black Voices for Trump in the latest issue. Good morning, Jamie!

BASHAM: Let’s start by getting a sense of how many African American voters typically choose the Democratic candidate. What do the statistics tell us?

JAMIE DEAN, NATIONAL EDITOR: They tell us that well over 90 percent of African American voters have chosen the Democratic candidate over the last few decades. In 2008, about 98 percent of black voters supported President Barack Obama. That was a particularly high number, but the trend continued in 2016, when only about 8 percent of African Americans voted for President Trump.

BASHAM: Why do such a high percentage of African Americans vote for Democratic candidates?

DEAN: It’s a complex issue, and I think there are a lot of factors that go into it. But we do know that black voters have overwhelmingly voted for Democrats since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

During that same year, Sen. Barry Goldwater was the Republican nominee for the presidency, and he voted against the Civil Rights Act, largely because he said he thought the legislation itself presented constitutional problems.

Whatever the reason, it really did represent a turning point for black voters, and they’ve supported Democratic nominees ever since. And I think it’s worth saying that Republicans haven’t tried terribly hard to win back those voters in large numbers. Maybe they think they just can’t win, so they don’t really try in systematic, sustained ways. I think that’s been part of the issue too.

BASHAM: It looks like the Trump campaign is trying?

DEAN: It does. In 2016, his pitch to black voters was pretty blunt. He basically said: What do you have to lose?

This time around, he’s trying to build a more robust case: He’s talking about black unemployment hitting an all-time low, he’s talking about the increased funding for historically black colleges and universities, and he’s talking about the passage of criminal justice reform.

The Trump campaign is also spending money. By the end of last year, they had already spent about a million dollars on outreach to black voters. As you noted, they’ve organized a coalition called Black Voices for Trump.

So you have the campaign spending money and the candidate talking about black outreach early in the process, instead of late in the game—and all of that does look like an attempt to reach black voters in a way we haven’t seen in some time.

BASHAM: Are there any signs that this could work?

DEAN: Well, I don’t think anyone expects a large surge of black voters to flock to President Trump in November. But in a tight election, he wouldn’t need a large surge—he might need to peel away just enough voters to tip a contest in a swing state or two.

That brings us to the famous swing state of Florida, where I think we have a really interesting example of how black Democratic voters have tipped an election for a Republican.

In 2018, Republican Ron DeSantis was running against Democrat Andrew Gillum in Florida’s race for governor. DeSantis had tied his campaign pretty closely to President Trump. The president even campaigned for DeSantis in Florida.

On Election Night, the results were razor thin, and the Republican narrowly edged out the Democrat. What’s interesting is that exit polls reported about 100,000 black women voted for the Republican over the Democrat.

That’s significant because about 100,000 low-income students in Florida participate in a program that offers tax-funded scholarships to attend private schools. And the Democrat in the governor’s race had spoken out against school choice programs.

So it appears that at least some number of the mothers of those children voted for a Republican instead of a Democrat because of the issue of school choice—and that their votes likely helped tip the election.

BASHAM: Do you think school choice will be an issue for black voters in this election?

DEAN: I think it already is. At several Democratic debates, there has been a group of demonstrators outside, protesting the Democratic candidates. And their signs say things like: “Black Democrats want charters.”

These demonstrators are part of a charter school coalition that is upset with Democratic candidates because most of the contenders haven’t supported school choice. Sen Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have said they would put a moratorium on funding for charter schools.

Charter schools tend to be popular among black voters. Some charter schools do fail, but plenty of parents have praised their successes, particularly among low-income students looking for better educational options.

So I think this is an issue to keep an eye on in the 2020 election, particularly as President Trump has begun talking more about supporting school choice.

BASHAM: What about President Trump’s rhetoric? How does the some of the things he says on Twitter, for example, influence what black voters might think about him?

DEAN: A recent Washington Post poll certainly suggests that Trump has plenty of issues with black voters. This particular poll reported eight out of ten black respondents said they think President Trump is racist. That’s obviously a problem for him.

Last year, he tweeted that a predominantly African American district in Baltimore was a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” This was part of a conflict he had with Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represented that district until his death late last year.

I spoke with Dean Nelson, who is a black minister and an adviser to the Black Voices for Trump coalition. And I asked him about Trump’s rhetoric. He said that he was in a meeting with other black pastors who challenged the president to take care in how he communicates to African American communities.

We’ll see if that happens as the year unfolds. Either way, I think the president probably knows he has a steep hill to climb with many black voters, and we’ll see how he handles it.

BASHAM: Did you get a sense of whether it can be difficult for a black voter to publicly support Trump or other Republicans?

DEAN: I’ll give you an example: When Republican Brian Kemp won Georgia’s gubernatorial election over Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018, an exit poll showed that about 11 percent of black male voters had voted for the Republican.

The Washington Post ran an editorial with the headline: “What’s up with all those black men who voted for the Republican in the Georgia governor’s race?” That editorial quoted a Boston Globe column that chastised black men for voting for a Republican, and said the GOP is “unabashedly the part of white supremacy.”

I think it’s safe to say there are black voters who would find that condescending. I spoke with black supporters of President Trump who said, “I have a right to think for myself and pick the candidate I deem most fit for the job.” Several of those voters said they’ve been called an Uncle Tom and a sell-out for voting for Republicans.

And some of them have been voting for Republicans for years because of issues like abortion or the economy. For them, it isn’t necessarily just about Trump, but about the underlying issues that drive them as voters.

I think that’s something that we need to keep watching over the course of 2020. Beyond the Trump candidacy, what are the underlying issues that drive voters, and how will they grapple with those in the ballot box—whatever their race?

BASHAM: Jamie Dean is national editor for WORLD Magazine. She is heading up coverage of the 2020 election for WORLD. Thanks so much for joining us today.

DEAN: Thanks, Megan.

MEGAN BASHAM: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Christians rally in Nigeria—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Christian rally in Nigeria]

Christians rallied across Nigeria this month to protest ongoing violence against believers. The Christian Association of Nigeria urged communities to hold “prayer walks” to raise awareness about the targeted killings.

An estimated 5 million people participated, according to local media reports. Demonstrators prayed, sang worship songs, and held banners saying things like,  “All souls are precious to God” and “We demand justice for this genocide.”

Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen continue to target Christian villages and communities. They’ve also stepped up a campaign of abductions and executions.

KUKAH: [Man speaking]

During a funeral mass for an 18-year-old seminary student kidnapped and killed last month, Bishop Matthew Kukah urged mourners to cling to the gospel amid persecution. He said, we must “become more robust in presenting the values of Christianity, especially our message of love and non-violence to a violent society.”

Locusts plague Kenya—Next we go to East Africa.

AUDIO: [Spraying Kenyan locusts]

Members of Kenya’s national youth service are training to fight a different kind of terrorism: swarms of locusts. The insects have already devastated food supplies in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. And they were reported in Uganda last week.

Kello Harsama is with Kenya’s ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. He says the locusts have invaded 17 of the country’s 47 counties.

HARSAMA: And that constitutes three quarters of the country’s land mass and this is a very serious threat to our food production.

UN officials warn if the locusts aren’t controlled they will put millions of people at risk of going hungry.

The locusts are also causing misery 2,500 miles away in Pakistan. Officials there declared a national emergency earlier this month. The insects have destroyed 40 percent of the country’s crops since last year. That has forced the government to import grain and other food supplies in a bid to address shortages and rising prices.

Tension between Russia and Belarus heat up—Next to Eastern Europe.

Tensions between Belarus and Russia continue to increase after talks between their two leaders earlier this month.

PUTIN: [Speaking Russian]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko met to discuss efforts to integrate their countries’ economies. But after the meeting, Lukashenko claimed Russia’s real goal is to “swallow up” its smaller neighbor.

Belarus relies on Russia for 80 percent of its energy needs. In a bid to gain the upper hand in negotiations, the Kremlin recently cut off oil supplies.

During a visit to Belarus earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Lukashenko to look to the United States for help.

POMPEO: Our energy producers stand ready to deliver 100 percent of the oil you need at competitive prices. We’re the biggest oil producer in the world and all you have to do is call us.

The Trump administration wants to build closer ties with Belarus to counter Russia’s influence. That’s despite the country’s reputation as the last dictatorship in Europe. Lukashenko has held power since 1994. Concerns over human rights abuses in the country prompted U.S. sanctions in 2006. But Pompeo said Belarus has made progress toward addressing those concerns.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

MARY REICHARD: One of the best things any of us can do in life is help one another. And a cab driver in Roseville, California did so in a big way. 

A few weeks ago Rajbir Singh picked up a frightened elderly woman who asked for a ride to the bank. 

She told her driver that an IRS employee had phoned her and said she needed to withdraw $25,000 dollars to repay an IRS debt. 

Sounded fishy to Singh, so he took action. He called the man posing as the IRS agent, pressed for details, and the man hung up.  

Still, his passenger wasn’t convinced. So he drove her to a police station, where an officer told her this was a scam. Singh then drove her home. 

The Roseville Police posted on their Facebook page that, “Rajbir could have just taken his customer to her stop and not worried about her well-being. His quick thinking saved a senior citizen $25,000, and for that, we greatly appreciate his efforts.” 

BASHAM: Good man!

REICHARD: It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, February 19th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the story of an overcomer. 

Betsey Stockton started life as a slave in New Jersey.  She became a missionary and a groundbreaking educator. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has her story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Betsey Stockton was born sometime in 1798. She never knew her father, and her mother was a slave. Betsey was still a child when her master, Robert Stockton, gave her to his eldest daughter. She had just married Abel Green, a Presbyterian minister.

Green eventually served as president of Princeton University. During a campus revival, Betsey placed her faith in Christ. In 1817 she became a member of the church, and the Greens granted her freedom. She stayed on as paid staff—faithfully attending Sabbath school and reading many theology, geography, and science books in the expansive Green library.

She wanted to become a foreign missionary and eventually settled on going to the Sandwich Islands, better known now as Hawaii. Her Sunday School teacher wrote a forceful reference letter, describing her as: “pious, industrious, apt to teach.” He added that Betsey was more acquainted with sacred history than almost one he knew. Abel Green also lobbied on her behalf. 

At the time, the Presbyterian and Congregational mission board didn’t send young, single women to the field. To get around that, the agency allowed Betsey to join a missionary family—the Stewarts—as a nurse for their first child. The mission contract demanded Betsey was not to be treated as a servant, rather, as a co-laborer sharing in the mission of teaching. 

Betsey Stockton became the first single woman appointed by the board, and the first African American missionary to serve. 

On November 20th, 1822, she, along with 13 other missionaries, left New Haven, Connecticut. Stockton kept a journal during their five month journey to the islands, published as a serial by Abel Green. 

Myrna Brown reads one of her earliest entries: 

STOCKTON: At 10 o’clock I went on deck: the scene that presented itself was, to me, the most sublime I ever witnessed. How, thought I, can “those who go down to the sea in ships” deny the existence of God?

Her reflections are part travel log, spiritual diary, and occasional field journal.

STOCKTON: December 31st — If it were in my power I would like to describe the Phosphorescence of the sea. But to do this would require the pen of a Milton: and he, I think, would fail, were he to attempt it. I never saw any display of Fire-works that equalled it for beauty. 

A few months into their voyage they hit stormy conditions, and contrary winds. It took them more than three weeks to navigate around Cape Horn. Some days, they made little or no forward progress, just tacking back and forth.

STOCKTON: February 9th — We cannot write or read with comfort; and if we attempt to eat, sitting on chairs that are not lashed, the chance is ten to one that we are thrown across the cabin, before the meal is over. I have had several pretty hard blows on my head

During some of these challenging days, Betsey was overwhelmed with her own spiritual battle—even more fierce than the waves and wind around her. 

The morning was pleasant, but I could not enjoy it—I was wretched—I could not enjoy my friends, because I could not enjoy my God. 

Once the ship reached Pacific waters, the trip became much more pleasant. Betsey writes that God lifted “the dark cloud” from her soul—feeling as “peaceful as the ocean” that calmly stretched before her. 

When the Stewarts had their baby, her journal became more irregular:

The little fellow beguiles many of my lonely hours; and you must excuse me if my journal is now weekly instead of daily. From the first moment that I saw the little innocent, I felt emotions that I was unacquainted with before.  

On May 4th, 1823, the band of missionaries finally reached the Hawaiian islands. They were welcomed by locals dressed only in loincloths. 

May 4th — When they first came on board, the sight chilled our very hearts. The ladies retired to the cabin, and burst into tears; and some of the gentlemen turned pale: my own soul sickened within me, and every nerve trembled. 

But Stockton, and the others, soon softened. 

We informed them that we were missionaries, come to live with them, and do them good. At which an old man exclaimed, in his native dialect, what may be thus translated—“That is very good, by and by, know God.” 

Betsey stayed in Hawaii for two and a half years. During that time she served as unofficial mission nurse. She also organized and ran the first school on the islands open to locals. 

Her ministry was cut short by Mrs. Stewart’s poor health and they returned home. Betsey moved to Philadelphia where she started a school for blacks. She then joined a mission in Canada, where she began a school for Native American children. Later, she moved back to Princeton, New Jersey, and opened a school for black children there. She also started a Sabbath school and faithfully taught every weekend for more than 25 years. She never married, but surrounded herself with children every day of the week.

Betsey Stockton died in 1865, and the president of Princeton college led her funeral. She was a favorite of the faculty and community. 

Here’s Myrna Brown again with one last journal entry from 1823:

I would not, I could not, I dare not, look with longing eyes towards my native land. No sir, my hand lies on the plough, and if my poor wretched heart does not deceive me, I would not take it off for all the wealth of America.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Wednesday, February 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD founder Joel Belz now on decision 2020.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: To say that President Donald Trump marches to his own drum is to cut off debate before it even begins. You may or may not like his governing style—but you have to agree it’s been a unique approach.

Suppose one of his aides were to email you this week to say: “The president is seeking some thoughtful outside-the-box thinking. If you could change one thing about his administration, what would it be?”

Fantasy? Perhaps. But I was intrigued. So I emailed several dozen folks, randomly drawn from my laptop’s address book, and asked that very question. I also asked how this issue might affect their votes.

I received a lot of responses—and fast. Here are five samples.

Quoting now: “I would prefer that the administration be more outspokenly sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants, particularly to women and children. Other than that, I have no problems with the administration as such. I do have problems with Trump personally: his childish tweets, arrogance, and self-centeredness. But his appointments have been spectacular, so I’ll vote for him again.”

Here’s another one: “Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to possess either personal humility or national humility. He spent the State of the Union address basically bragging. At one point he gave some credit to Congress, but not much. He seems to see everything through a lens of money—the love of money.”

And another: “Trump has a big ego, and he fights like a junkyard dog. But he fights to win, and he could not care less what the rest of Washington thinks. I say more power to him, because I don’t see anyone else out there with the confidence and the backbone to shake the status quo like he has.”

Here’s the fourth: “Trump’s overall character. That includes his demeaning lawmakers, world leaders, reporters, and various minorities in his speeches, tweets, and live events. His character has made a mockery of the office, and made it into what I think he really wanted—a reality show.”

And finally—quote—“That he himself were capable of demonstrating integrity and honesty—and a commitment to heal partisan divides. [I did not vote for Trump last time. But I also did not vote for his opponent. This time, I may well vote for his opponent. It would be the first time I have voted for a Democrat in a presidential election.]”

Please take note! There’s nothing scientific about this tiny sample of the folks in my address book. But I’ve been around long enough to suggest that little pictures like these can be a decent predictor of what lies down the road. There are lots of nuances. 

Only one in five expressed openness to voting for Trump’s opponent. Watch that ratio over the next nine months—and consider how a nation’s loss of consensus on important issues can be felt even in our personal address books.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

MEGAN BASHAM: Tomorrow: A big adoption agency will no longer help American families adopt from overseas. We’ll tell you why.

And, passing down cowboy traditions. We’ll take you to a ranch in Arizona where a dad teaches his children how to rope and wrangle.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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