It never fails. Every day since the Republican National Convention, my Facebook newsfeed has someone talking about the election in some capacity. Whether it’s a link to Samuel L. Jackson’s controversial ad for Obama encouraging everyone to wake up and vote, or a picture of Mr. Obama’s backside and a caption reading, “I’ve got my president’s back,” or some word of praise about Michelle Obama’s sophistication, or even a witty picture/quote pointing out an example of Mitt Romney’s so-called ill-qualifications, more than several of my Facebook friends are expressing their ideas about the upcoming election. As you may imagine, the majority of them will vote. Interestingly, someone’s status update recently provoked me to write my thoughts about voting. It said something like: “If I ever hear a pastor encourage people not to vote from a platform, that would be my last time at that church.” And while I understand and respect her sentiment, I don’t understand or respect dismissing people who choose not to vote without exploring their opinions. Since I have had such thoughts before, and am leaning toward not voting myself, l decided to explore them a little more fully.
Before I share them, however, I will share with you my understanding of the reasons people vote. I hear two the most:
1. Have your voice heard
If you want your voice heard in a political setting, voting is the way to do it. Instead of complaining to people who have no power to address your issues, every four years or every two years, you can express you contentment or discontentment with elected officials by voting for them into office or voting them out of office. The vote is one of the main ways everyday citizens can be heard.
Especially relevant to African Americans whose history includes people being denied their basic rights of citizenship, voting becomes a moral responsibility—a way to express gratitude for the sacrifices of our forebears and ancestors. Many put their lives on the line for the right to vote and were rewarded with death. The least we could do is register and go to the polls.
A study was recently released documenting how the number of registered voters in Chicago has drastically plummeted since 2008. Although Chicago (and an overwhelming majority of Americans) were excited about Obama’s historic run, I don’t believe the aforementioned reasons are sufficient enough to keep people enthusiastic about voting in this upcoming election. And though I don’t profess to know why people are not voting, I can imagine they feel similar to me: disenchanted because of the reasons I will mention below, or because the affect of the Obama Kool-Aid has worn off (probably a combination of both).
No. I haven’t completely made up my mind about not voting, but here are a few of the reasons why I am leaning toward not voting.
1. My vote doesn’t count
“He who votes counts for nothing. He who counts the votes, counts for everything.” – Joseph Stalin
When I first heard this quote sometime in graduate school, I had to read it a couple of times before it really clicked. But when it did, I was changed. Putting aside your personal feelings about Stalin and his philosophies, it is difficult to deny the truth of his quotation. There is, indeed, a veil between the voters and the declaration of the outcome of the election. That buffer is the counting process. It seems pretty flawless. If people can be persuaded to vote and then agitate the outcome to the favor of a predetermined candidate, the voters will have no idea of the corruption. They will go along with results because they have faith in the system. It’s interesting, people suspect cheating via counting in elections in high school, civic organizations, American Idol, and even churches who vote their pastors in and out, but the same suspicion appears to be absent in the people’s mind concerning the election of President of the United States and other local and national political offices.
Funny clip. But there is a message above that should not be overlooked. Electronic voting machines, though said to be more proficient, have the capability to swing elections. But don’t take my word for it; listen to a public testimony from a programmer who created a program that could fix an election. In his testimony, he talked about the importance of receiving a receipt upon voting on an electronic voting machine. When I voted in 2008 on one of these machines in Indiana, I asked for a receipt and was told they didn’t give any out. I was encouraged to trust the accuracy of these machines that “nullify” the human error factor. Knowing that the digital gas pumps are rigged, digital thermometers have been inaccurate, and digital scales just plain wrong (according to some women I know), I just shook my head and left wearing my “I voted” sticker.
2. It doesn’t matter who the president is, he is just a puppet
Since 1913 politics and politicians have been compromised. As we should know, The Federal Reserve is not federal at all. It is a privately owned corporation that operates independently of the government. As you research the Federal Reserve System, you will find that the bank creates our currency (Federal Reserve Notes) and that your and my income taxes go to the owners of the bank. This is relevant because the Federal Reserve loans money to the American government and the American people pay back the loans with interest (unconstitutional income tax).
“Give me control over a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its laws” (Baron Mayer Amschel Rothschild).
In summary, the president serves the Federal Reserve. As I see it, that drastically conflicts with serving the people. The Federal Reserve has controlled every president since 1913. And the ones who have gone against the directives of the banking elite have been assassinated.
“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now controlled by its system of credit. We are no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominate men” – Woodrow Wilson (1919)
So when I hear all of the many things “Obama has done” in his first four years touted as reasons he should be reelected, I get annoyed. Regardless, however, of the laundry list of successes or failures we attribute to Obama’s administration, I think acknowledging Obama with the credit is superficial. I sincerely believe that Obama (and any other president for that matter) makes no real decisions. The president is a parrot—repeating what he is told to say, and a puppet—doing what he is told to do. Whether the puppet tricks or treats, kisses or kicks, intelligent people direct their response of the puppet’s action to the puppet master. Don’t be confused, however. Puppets can puppet. In such a complex society, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that puppets themselves can occupy the second and third tiers of the show. If you want to see the mind that facilitates the action, follow the strings—all of them.
3. Campaign issues are different from real everyday life issues
In my opinion, coverage of campaigns before a major election is huge distractions. The debates, news commentary, and commercials play on the emotional aspect of voters, getting them excited about irrelevant issues that have little to do with real decisions that affect citizens. In every election, issues related to Christianity (religion), abortion, homosexuality, gas prices, education, rights of illegal immigrants, etc. come up. The politicians give their usual campaign rhetoric about the matter, then the people who feel affiliated with a particular perspective vote en masse to support the candidate who professes to support the cause they are most passionate about.
This bothers me because it makes me feel like I am being played with. Many promises are made. Few are kept. I feel that the politician is fully aware of his impotence related to keeping promises. He is told to do or say whatever necessary to appeal to the masses. That way, whatever story is spun, the people will believe it. I am uninterested in being toyed with. I also uninterested in being promised something by someone who has no intentions on keeping the promise and/or no power to deliver it.
4. Voting is NOT the only way to voice one’s concern/ express one’s voice
The main reason I voted in 2008 was because I was advised not to complain about the state of the union if I didn’t vote. You may have heard the argument that if you don’t vote, you essentially subscribe to whatever the outcome is, and therefore can’t complain. As a former complainer who wanted the space and place to complain, I decided to vote. After I voted, however, I thought about how I still couldn’t complain if my candidate didn’t win. If you vote, and your candidate doesn’t win, you can’t complain either because the process is such that your candidate may not win. He or she did not get enough support… the system works…so try again next time.
The way I see it, this cannot be the only way to express one’s discontentment with political matters. There have to be ways, in the meantime, to have one’s voice heard. Unfortunately, this is where Black people, in my view, have been stuck for the past number of years. We have participated in the system and have patiently endured the suffering that ensued from a decision we didn’t support or legislation handed down by a candidate we didn’t vote for. And we have also waited another four years to see which of several candidates would be the “least evil” to replace the one with which we are currently dissatisfied. Why are we so content with voting for the poison that will kill us the slowest? This is one of the reasons I supported the recent teacher’s strike in Chicago. They had been lied to for years and years and finally acted in a spirit of unity to express their frustration with being false hope and empty promises.
I feel that it is past time that we, as an American people, found other ways to make our voices heard in this society. Voting is NOT, despite popular opinion, the only way to express one’s voice. I lean toward not voting because voting makes us more likely to accept the status quo and go along with whatever happens during an administration. The vote has put us in a position of passivity. We are not complaining as much. We are not complaining loud enough… we are too compliant. Smh.
5. Our ancestors fought for our right to choose.
I may get in trouble for this one, but people who say that our ancestors died that we may have the right to vote, or the right to sit in the front of the bus, or the right to eat in a segregated restaurant or sit beside white people in a waiting room are only partially right. As I see it, our ancestors died that we may have the right to CHOOSE to vote or not to vote, to sit in the front of the bus or the back, etc. They fought to have the restrictions that limited the Black man and woman’s right to determine for themselves. Our ancestors fought for true freedom and independence (as evidenced in the right to choose) and I think it is misleading to superimpose manipulative thoughts like these on our youth. I think our ancestors want us to do what is best for us in this day and in this time, not attempting to repeat what they did in their day and in their time.
Ultimately, I feel that the political system is corrupt—very corrupt. I believe that it’s a huge illusion designed to make people believe their concerns matter when, in fact, the government will almost always carry out their agenda despite what the people want or need. It is structured in such a way that gives people a sense of hope during times they would express themselves in rebellious and even violent ways because of feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness. The way I see it, American democracy, American justice, and American politics are just ideas paraded around as realities until the government becomes so powerful, nothing can be done to stop it. In an ideal society, I would vote. It would be a legitimate way to voice one’s concerns about the state of the union and the issues that are important and relevant to elections. It would be fair and honest. Everybody’s vote would count. But sense we are not living in an ideal society, I have a dilemma: to vote or not to vote. Help me decide.
Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 2000s
When Rosie O’Donnell came out in 2002 and became a spokesman for gay rights, public opinion shifted again. More people felt liberated by the caliber of celebrities coming out and the people started coming out of closets everywhere. The philosophical discussion around homosexuality also shifted. Do gay people have rights? Should they be allowed to marry? Should they be allowed to adopt children? Is homosexuality the civil rights issue of the new millennium? Interestingly, can you see how such questions subtly imply the acceptability of homosexuality generally, but the specifics within the “lifestyle” are up for debate?
We can’t forget JL King’s book, On the Downlow in 2004. “Down low” was no longer associated with the R. Kelly 1996 hit song talking about a secret (heterosexual) affair, but became a new term used to describe the anomaly of “straight” Black men who secretly had sex with other men, but didn’t classify themselves as gay. Society considered him as an authority because he was a Black man living the secret life he wrote about. As a consequence, the level of suspicion rose among different sects of the Black community against Black men.
Perhaps as a response the heightened suspicions, during this time period phrases like “pause” and “no homo” became very popular. “No homo” was used to preface a statement that may sound or be interpreted as homosexual, but is not. “No homo” is like a disclaimer people used so they would not be mis-taken as homosexual based on their comment. Soon after “no homo” came on the scene, “pause” was erected…no homo. LOL! If a man said something to another man that sounded homosexual in nature, the man hearing the message would have to say, “pause” to encourage the speaking man to think about what he said and say it another way to remove the homosexual suggestion. They not only showed a concerted effort of people attempting to distance themselves from being associated with homosexual before making a statement, it also indicated how homosexuality colored and influenced the mentalities of the masses. Language and definitions changed. Symbols changed. The general sense of humor changed. Popular culture changed. Advertisements changed. Everything, in a real sense, has been affected by homosexuality.
In 2006, I distinctly remember controversy surrounding the book, King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland. An elementary school teacher read the book to her class in Lexington, MA when talking about weddings. There was an uproar around the fact that parents were not notified and that children were being influenced to accept homosexuality as normal. But parents would not be able to stop the other forms of media as it injected ideas of homosexuality to an impressionable generation of children.
From the middle of the first decade in the 21st century, to now, so much has happened. I don’t know everything, but here is a short list of things that I remember. Feel free to comment and add what you remember and I have left out.
In 2004 Governor (New Jersey) James McGreevey resigns over gay affair.
In 2006, pastor and spokesman against homosexuality, Ted Haggard, is involved in a mega-scandal where he is accused of sexual relationships with a male prostitute.
In 2007, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Brittney Spears and Madonna. Also in 2007, John Amaechi made history as being the first (former) NBA player to be an admitted homosexual.
In 2008, Wanda Sykes came out of the closet (rather loudly) at a rally in Las Vagas protesting Proposition 8. Katy Perry, A preacher’s kid, became an overnight sensation with her hit “I Kissed A Girl.” Clay Aiken came out later in the year.
In 2010, there was a lot of talk about My Princess Boy—a book inspired by real events about a 4-year-old Black boy who enjoys dressing up like a princess (to see more books similar to this, click here)
In 2012, GLADD demands that CNN fire Roland Martin over controversial tweet that “encouraged violence against gay men.”
In May, President Barak Obama made headlines when he openly affirmed his support for same sex marriages and more recently Josh Dixon trying to make gay history by becoming the first out male gymnast on the US men’s Olympic gymnastic team, and the coming out of Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean.
Next post: Formula to Normalize Homoxexuality
The story has become an American classic. We’ve heard variations of it before.
The 250 pound 28 year old claims he was defending himself against a 140 pound 17 year old carrying skittles and a can of iced tea.
Police cannot find evidence to suggest that the white man is lying—even though everybody else sees it.
Lawyers busy themselves preparing arguments.
Black parents claim racism.
Protests and press conferences are held where irrelevant Black leaders parade in front of cameras.
Black people leave justice in the hands of the authorities.
Black people stay in their rut.
Regardless of what happens regarding the arrest and conviction of the murderer or whether or not the Department of Justice, FBI, or FDLE find anything in their investigations, if Black people continue leaving justice in the hands of so-called authorities, Black people will remain in defenseless and powerless positions—crying over injustice and complaining about unpunished racism in the 21st century.
Are we destined to remain in such anemic positions?
What, if anything, can we do about this?
How should we respond to this?
- Should we fight to introduce a law into congress that makes it illegal for a white man to murder a black boy ?
- Should we fight to make sure already existing laws are enforced?
- Should we assemble to express our disappointment with the silent local police?
- Should we make a sign with a MLK quote about justice and injustice?
- Should we write a blog expressing our disappointments and how this is incident is reminiscent to Emmitt Till’s murder in 1955?
- Should demand that Barack Obama or other political figures call for the
arrest of Zimmerman and not vote for them if they don’t respond to our demands in a way that is sincere?
I’m running out of ideas… I honestly don’t think any of these ideas will do anything to address the heart of problem of Trayvon’s murder. And I hope I’m not alone. Malcolm X’s words ring clearer to me, now more than ever: that the government is either unable or unwilling to address the problems that confront Black people in a satisfactory way. The most natural response seems to be self-evident : address the problems ourselves–but that is not what’s happening. smh.
“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” –Malcolm X
We know the problems. We’re affected by them every day. Let’s create some solutions. Here are a few of mine:
1. We should recognize our power and use it:
- Power concedes to nothing but power. White power is dominating us because Black power has not responded in a way to nullify or overpower white power.
- Black people have power. Always have and always will. Unfortunately, because we don’t know how to use it, we are misusing it. We have fallen into the trap of misdirecting our energies to kill each other in service of white domination (part of the plan of white power).
- If our power is redirected in ways that will help us get out of our current social, political, economic, and spiritual rut, we WILL succeed.
- We must want “freedom, justice, and equality” so badly that we will seek to obtain them using any means necessary.
- We must reject any and everything that is thrown at us to stifle our attempts to empower ourselves to lift ourselves. We cannot limit ourselves by dismissing ideas for Black elevation because they may not be the ways that we have historically fought.
- Let’s fight the fight and let the chips fall where they may.
2. We must redefine independence.
- Independence and freedom are often used interchangeably. As a result, people may erroneously conclude that we (as a people) are independent.
- Consider independence as NOT dependent and slavery as being dependent.
- Are we (as a people) independent?
- When the government provides assistance to “underprivileged” (namely Black) people, it creates a level of dependence that is paralyzing. We are very dependent on the very systems and structures that are failing us.
- Let’s stop putting our trust in people or systems that have not helped us in the recent and distant pasts.
- Let’s be intentionally about becoming self-determining and self-reliant. We must get to the place where we are not dependent on structures and systems that have been put in place by our former oppressors to do for us what we should do for ourselves.
- Understand that our formal education is one of the most important instruments used to keep us in the mentality that keeps us working in the interest of white domination and against the interest of ourselves and our children.
- We have been educated/conditioned to respond to situations in ineffective ways.
- When is it acceptable for children of former slaves to be educated by children of former slave masters? Have things change that much to where one thinks whites will teach blacks how to beat them at the game they’re playing?
- Recall the 5th point in the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program: We should want an education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We should strive for an education that teaches our true history and our role in the present society. “We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.”
- Reeducate yourself on the importance of Nationhood. (Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad , John Henrik Clark, and a host of others talk about it in their books and recordings). Land, food, and shelter are very important in this equation.
4. We must separate.
- When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected with another… Language from The Declaration of Independence, one of the founding documents of America. It made sense for them then and makes sense for us now. It’s time for us to get out of the mindset that this system will do right by us. It has not, it is not, and if history proves to be a good teacher, will not.
- Put little faith in the American system/ government/ way of life. Begin to devalue the structures that we have accepted as indisputable and unchangeable. This is the first step in independence.
- Lose respect for the laws—Since they do nothing to protect us, we should have no obligation to respect them.
5. Stop being so damn afraid.
- Fear paralyzes. It will prevent an individual from reaching a goal and a race.
- Remove all notions of fear and doubt.
- Be lead by the Spirits. We have more help than we realize.
- Fight the fight. Let the chips fall where they may.