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Last week, in American Politics, Part 1, I stated that while too many people think it is enough to repeat the myriad voting slogans designed to motivate the masses, I believe that real discussion on the voting process, the right to vote and the effectiveness of voting has to occur.
For example, those who speak of “one man, one vote,” refuse to explain the Electoral College and how it can mitigate the popular vote. But in a climate of hanging, swinging and missing chads, anything could happen.
The Electoral College was designed as a buffer between the people and the actual selection of the president, because the racist, sexist and classist founding fathers did not trust the average citizen. It was also designed to give smaller states more power.
In all but two states, the winner of the most votes from the people takes all of the Electoral votes for that state. However, in Maine and Nebraska, Electoral votes go to the winner in each of those states’ congressional districts, saving two for the statewide winner. Confusing, huh?
Until we provide more clarity on the voting process as well as the candidates, we will continue to provide little inspiration for the masses to vote.
Our ancestors died so that we would have the right to vote, but after the horrible events in Florida in 2000, many people just may exercise the right to not vote. Unless, of course, they hear more than the usual slogans and platitudes. We have to remember that since the Big ‘80’s, the American people have been more concerned with big cars than social programs, and more concerned with gas prices than educating our children.
Please don’t believe this is a Black thing, because Whites have problems turning out the voters as well.
And the party line demagogues don’t make things any better.
On the Democratic side, every Black Democrat assumes that all Blacks should join this party, failing to discuss difficulties that we should have with the party. For example, does anyone want to talk about how the Democrats have a habit of taking Blacks for granted, knowing that our vote can almost always be counted on? And if the first serious Black contender is derided by other Blacks for not being “Black” enough, why would the party take us seriously?
On the Republican side, the Black conservatives espousing “American” values, fail to take the party to task for its elitist, classist and racist “values.” I agree that we need not be so loyal to one party, but if the racism in the Republican party can not be dampened and the Blacks who join the party are mostly boot licking lackeys, then there is very little to inspire more of us to join. The racist conservatives who populate the Republican Party are all about big business and rich, White men.
In addition, there can be no pure alignment based on skin color in any party.
Aside from the clowning, self-serving antics of the Soul Curl Brothers (Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson), Blacks should have had difficulties with the likes of Mayor Wilson Goode in Philadelphia (who burned poor folks out of public housing) and Mayor Tom Bradley (who allowed LA Police Chief Darryl Gates to run rampant) who were both Black.
The bottom line is that politics can be confusing and intimidating.
So, what then, can help to turn out the vote? To begin with, inspiring candidates, such as Barack Obama, who has inspired both Blacks and Whites across the nation with his victory in Iowa and concession speech in New Hampshire’s close race. Secondly, a real voter education program, to explain the entire voting process as well as the impact of voting would do wonders for boosting voter registration.
The truth about both parties may also help.
For example, it would be nice if Republicans admitted that Georgie is moderately mentally retarded and a warmonger. They would garner more respect if they admitted that the most conservative of the party care very little about people of color, or people without money.
Even though Georgie is “Bushwhacking” the world, it would also be nice if the truth about the Democratic Party were still told.
Am I a “bad” Black man for challenging the Democratic Party? Well, I challenge both and the Republicans are no better. I agree with the notion that we need not be so loyal to one party, but the racism in the Republican Party must be addressed.
I’m about sick to my stomach of hearing how Bill Clinton was the “first Black president. Yet, even if Republicans lie about how dangerous the idiot in the White House is, they can not lie about his view of the world, particularly when it comes to people of color.
The problem is that during elections, voting is made into an emotional issue, which works temporarily, but fails to sustain after major disappointments. For far too many, the goal is to get people to vote for a specific candidate, or a specific issue, as opposed to providing real information so that the people can make informed decisions. If the goal were to make more people more politically astute, the voter turnout would grow and could be sustained.
Let us remember how the retarded son of a Bush first got into office: A great number of voters of color in Florida were disenfranchised and many of their elected officials failed to stand up for them. Eventually, Democrat Al Gore gave up the fight. Both parties failed the people. Many Blacks and other American citizens on the fringe of enfranchisement watched and became grossly disillusioned about the voting process.
I don’t know about the apathy of poor Whites, but I do believe that more Blacks of all income brackets would get out and vote, and continue to vote if they had more compelling information aside from party lines and the historical importance of voting.
Otherwise, the voting process remains a joke to many.
I’m reminded of the Election Day slogan of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley from my hometown of Chicago, IL: “Vote early and vote often.” He wasn’t really joking.
There are real reasons to vote, but if you are working for either party and trying to get the masses out to vote, don’t just send the same old tired messages. Explain the actual voting process. Tell the people about the real issues and the real messages that should be sent with each vote.
The beauty of the vote is that a group of people, comprised of many groups of people, can unite to send a message.
Now, that’s a reason to vote.
Darryl James n is an award-winning author who is now a filmmaker. His first mini-movie, “Crack,” was released in March of 2006. He is currently filming a full length documentary. James’ latest book, “Bridging The Black Gender Gap,” is the basis of his lectures and seminars. Previous installments of this column can now be viewed at www.bridgecolumn.com. James can be reached at