Michael Tyler gained prominence within the Democratic Party after serving as a field organizer for President Obama’s 2008 campaign in Virginia. Tyler also served as Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn’s secretary and is currently the Democratic National Committee’s director of African American media.
Tyler recently discussed the removal of the Confederate flag in South Carolina, Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and President Obama’s final year in office.
What were your initial thoughts when the decision was made to remove the Confederate flag from the state grounds of South Carolina?
Well, I felt as though people were finally coming around toward doing the right thing. I felt like people were finally opening their eyes and seeing that this symbol of hatred had no place on the state capital grounds. It’s also refreshing to see people having conversations about it as well.
What is your take on the argument of the flag being of historical value versus a symbol of racism that is used by White supremacists?
The bottom line is that that flag has always been used for racism, hatred, and depression and there is no two ways around that. Yes, it was used in the United States to represent the Confederate states in America but most recently in the 20th century the flag has been used in different states as a direct response to the Civil Rights Movement, so again, the flag is a symbol of hatred and it has no business being in the public domain.
Why do you think the Republicans are lobbying for the flag to remain intact?
I think a lot of folks in their party are still pandering and clinging on to the dark elements within their party. The Republicans that are in Congress today are the same people who refuse to criticize the rhetoric of Donald Trump, who says that immigrants who occupy this land are criminals and racists. Nobody in their party is standing up and saying that this is not the type of expression that we need right now and he also happens to be leading in their polls; people continue to take him serious as a candidate, and I think if they want to move forward, they must rethink their position on politics, especially toward Black and Brown people. Jeb Bush said Americans need to work longer hours to spur economic growth. He missed the point that people are already working longer hours. What he’s not talking about is raising the minimum wage, making sure women are being paid equally, and protecting workers’ rights.
Do you see any danger in Donald Trump being taken seriously as a Republican candidate?
Well, people take him seriously because what he’s saying is in direct correlation with the Republican position on immigration policy. Rick Perry has made the exact same comments, and every single one of the Republican candidates that are currently running for office feel the same way as well. And these comments may work in their favor right now, but when the general election comes, and you try to echo the same message, the Democratic Party will definitely prevail.
What will be President Obama’s legacy during his eight-year tenure in the White House?
Well, you look back at Jan. 1, 2009, when President Obama first took office, our nation was in an economic crisis — one that we hadn’t experienced since the 1930s, and not only did he stabilize our economy and save the auto industry, but he also managed to expand our health care for the greatest amount of Americans in this generation. I think at the end of the day, these things will be a part of his legacy forever.