The Ancestors vs The “Vote”
The Midterms of 2018 are all over. A few razor-thin races lasted longer than expected. Most notably, the Governors races in Florida and Georgia. These are races where two “Black Firsts” were on the line. Again, this is 2018.
Black voters were being hammered by Black voices from Left, Center, and Right. They fell basically into three categories:
- Don’t Vote: Voting is a waste of time and we should not bother.
- Just Vote: There are likely policy issues on the ballot that you haven’t even heard about even if you decline to support the current duopoly.
- For the Ancestors!: This group wants to guilt Black people into voting for the Democratic Party.
There is a short-term harm reduction subgroup that overlaps Categories 2 and 3. I personally fall into Category 2.
Category 1 is often a Black conservative position. In many cases, this group is saying withhold your vote since the system has failed us. Therefore, do not vote until there are policies on the table that help Black people, specifically, right now. Don’t confuse them with the tiny, nearly-negligible, poorly executed Black Republican Blexit or “walkaway” campaigns.
Notice that Category 3 (Cat 3) is the only faction that avoids policy beyond preserving tepid legislation like the ACA/Obamacare. Which is based on a model from the conservative think tank- the Heritage Foundation. The Dems managed to allow the GOP to water it down even further.
Tweet Now! Cat 3 is the most heinous group on the list. They use the names and lives of slain Black leaders and historical movements to get us to “vote blue no matter who (or what).” This keeps the Black Community running in circles. Tweet Now! Since, of course, our Blackness is completely dependent on our blueness every 2-4 years <eye roll emoji>.
I’m going to say something semi-controversial here:
NO ONE DIED FOR OUR RIGHT TO VOTE.
People died and sacrificed for us to have some power and influence in a system that has killed, enslaved, jailed, and mistreated us for centuries. Tweet Now! The “Vote” is a proxy for holding politicians accountable and to impact policy- power. Not just the ability to go into the booth and pull the lever. If you disconnect voting from accountability and policy, it means absolutely nothing. That is the point of these platitudes around voting from Cat 3. They are, in fact, undermining the entire reason for democracy.
Right is Wrong
A reasonable person could easily assume that Cat 3 is merely victims of an innocent, well-meaning misreading of history and people are only doing what they think is best. That makes sense, on the surface. However, if you take a step back and look at the political landscape, you soon realize that this is a cynical & insidious ploy to actually take power away from you. Voting is transactional. Your vote should come with a clear mandate that support must be earned through good policy that has a positive impact on your life RIGHT NOW. This is especially true for social, economic, and environmental practice and policy.
In the age of the information superhighway, misinformation still outpaces the truth. In the world of politics, this is doubly true. There will always be people paid to lie and divide us. One of the broad goals of neoliberalism/conservatism is to disconnect the wishes of the people from the direction of legislation on every level of governance. If we vote without concern for policy outcomes, it is much easier for wealthy people to manipulate lawmakers through direct lobbying and “donations.” Essentially, we silence ourselves by voting Team Blue/Team Red or “for the ancestors.” This is one of the myriad ways the rich and powerful maintain control of our institutions with their money.
What You Can Do
Ask the Cat 3 people a simple question:
“If my vote is valuable enough to die for, why can’t I use it to demand good policy (or accountability from politicians/parties) for me & family?”
If the response is “This is an EMERGENCY! WE MUST STOP X, Y, Z!!!” with no further explanation, they are likely a charlatan try to dupe you. Walk away.
They should be able to fashion some sort of plausible explanation of how the current vote will lead to more influence over policy and making politicians more accountable in the future. Sometimes a shrug and “Shit. I don’t know. We gotta try.” is the sincerest response you’re going to get. At least, you know you can deal with that person later.
Do Your Research- First
Read up on the issues and the candidates. Check their donors and see if there is a connection between their actions (word or deed) and the money they receive.
Voice Your Concerns
Go to town halls. Ask pols how they plan to earn your vote. Tweet Now! Don’t let them hustle you with “the other side won’t let us…” You can say something like “What specific policy is your top priority? What will be the impact on me & my family? What is your schedule to put that legislation forward, once in office?” Questions like this can end the tap dancing. Keep pressing them.
You can also call their campaign headquarters or government office. Stay on top of them. Get people with the same concerns to voice them, too. Speak to others about your point of view and see if they will join you. You and this group of like-minded people can Tweet Now! use social media to push your position and get answers .
It’s Your Vote
In the end, when you are in that booth you should make the best choice for you, your family, and community.
Not the bad guy. But, a facsimile thereof.