I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being a snowflake. It’s well and truly time for Democrats to stop whining and being precious, and Board the Blue Choo Choo. We have many changes to make, and by now, we should all agree that those changes will never be made with a corrupted party in charge.
My skin may not be black, but I know what it’s like to be a minority, and to be punished for it. I’m an Indie author. A disabled veteran. I’m not just a woman, but a gay woman, married to a woman. I’m an atheist.
I am many things beyond all that, but I’m a proud Democrat.
All of us inside the Democratic party may not agree on every single nuance of the platform, but for the sake of all that is good, we at least agree on the fundamentals. We all want police brutality and death-by-cop to stop. We all want free or at least affordable healthcare. We all want to be paid a living wage for the work we do. We all want to save the planet. We all want equal rights. We all want clean water and air. We all want to feel safe, secure, and have hope for the future.
The list of things we have in common is much longer than this space can hold, but the point is, we’re on the same side. And it’s time some in this party stopped undermining our ability to get to that better place in our society. Far beyond the maxim you’re preaching to the choir, is the one we see happening now: you’re sleeping with the enemy.
Currently in the news, a Republic is struggling for the right to have their votes counted, and they are being tear-gassed, blinded, maimed, beaten, shot with rubber bullets, kidnapped. Their rights are being assaulted, and their leader is telling them they don’t matter. He doesn’t care about them.
I’m not even talking about Belarus.
No, I’m referring to America. The ostensible land of the free, home of the brave.
And yet, last night, I got into something of a debate with a well-known and respected black professor on Twitter. Admittedly, I had been posting protests about him each time he appeared on news shows. My objection for his air-time was based on the fact that he had not voted in the 2016 election, and then afterward said he “underestimated white people”‘ as his defense. He said he just didn’t think white people would put Trump in office.
So, basically, here’s a man who makes an egregious error, and instead of owning it, blames someone else for the result? And this same man gets to go on television and pontificate about the sad state of affairs & wax poetic about how bad things are?
Well, leaving aside the overtones of narcissism and racism in that statement he made, here are the facts on that:
White vote was up to 65.3% in 2016, while black votes were down to 59.6%. [pewresearch.org]. “White women” might have been stupid enough to put Trump in office, but at least they voted, didn’t they? And if people like the professor had not sent the bat-signal that not-voting or third-party voting was an acceptable decision, maybe the Orange Menace wouldn’t be in office right now.
Maybe George Floyd would still be alive.
Maybe Breonna Taylor would still be alive.
Maybe black men wouldn’t be lynched in a public square.
Maybe our citizens wouldn’t be blinded and maimed by rubber bullets.
Maybe our institutions and protections wouldn’t be dismantled.
Maybe a criminal enterprise wouldn’t be systematically destroying all we hold dear each day, with impunity.
Maybe the USPS wouldn’t be corrupted, mail deliver slowed, sorting machines removed, deadlines on arrival ballots shortened to ensure votes aren’t counted.
Maybe the now-estimated 200,000 people who have died of coronavirus would still be alive.
Maybe we wouldn’t be looking at millions of people with permanent health issues in the aftermath of COVID-19’s damage.
But no, the lauded professor decided that the email-lady was just a step too far. Even though Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to ever run for the office of president.
The professor didn’t and still hasn’t taken responsibility for the egregious error in thinking, nor the impact his dismissive words might have had on other voters who looked up to him, and decided that if a person like him–an icon in the black community–said that NOT VOTING was a viable alternative, well then, why should they vote either?
According to pewtrusts.org,
“Forty-four percent of eligible unregistered individuals say they do not want to vote. Another 27 percent say they intend to register but haven’t done so yet, and 25 percent say they are unregistered because they have not been inspired by a candidate or issue. Eleven percent do not want to register due to privacy or security reasons.”
Why then, wouldn’t a person of the professor’s stature use his political and social and academic capital to encourage citizens to register? Why wouldn’t he address their misconceptions or lack of understanding, rather than place himself firmly in the position of those who are part of the problem? Why does he think Trump is having Kanye West run as a third-party candidate? He’s hoping to siphon off some of the black vote from Democrats. And by the professor encouraging others, by his example, to skip voting, isn’t the professor just helping Donald Trump steal another election? And I should respect the professor?s achievements, his credentials, his opinion? Why?
Women and people of color have struggled, sacrificed, suffered, and died for their freedoms, and their right to cast a vote. We just celebrated the 100 anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement. We just lost several giants from the civil rights movement, who battled to secure everyone’s right to vote.
Some of us live in those dark trenches where a war has raged without relief from the very inception of this country. First Nations, and other indigenous peoples. People of color. LGBTQ+ people. The disabled. The elderly. Women.
Call them all disenfranchised.
And then there are the others. The ones who worship the Trinity I refer to as the Triumvirate of Ruin. Greed, Ignorance, and Zealotry. I contend that all the ills of our SocioPolitical landscape springs from that triad of destruction.
In the aforementioned Republic of Belarus, the same is happening, but on a slightly more heinous level. The voting citizens of that country are a mirror image of America, and it is only one step farther than the events in the United States. The people in Belarus are fighting for their votes to be counted. They are being gassed in the street, shot with live rounds, rounded up in unmarked vehicles, held hostage and made to denounce their protest, just like any other hostage video in war-torn countries where dictators will do anything to maintain the power they’ve managed to steal and bully away from the people.
The situation in Belarus is also the situation in America. It is perhaps only difficult for many of us to see in that way. As Americans, we have been lulled into a false sense of security. Not since the Civil War have we fought against each other, on our own soil. But that’s where we are headed. Indeed, that’s where we are, only the stark truth of it is clouded by our own myopia. Authoritarianism is insidious. It can slither into our realities without being noticed, and that’s how countries fall. Even amid the systemic racism and oppression being shown on video each day, some are still behaving as if it’s some kind of new reality show. And why wouldn’t they? We have a reality TV star in the White House.
But too many of us have blithely lived our American lives, believing on some ingrained level, that eventually all shall be well. Someone will surely take care of the issues that need to be addressed. It’s time we realized on a visceral level that the machinations of our government cannot be underestimated.
Now, we see that if certain institutions are usurped by power-hungry, hateful, and sometimes evil people, there is little we can do to stop it. We have only a few safety nets in place, and they have proved insufficient for this current unprecedented time in our history. They will have to be addressed; but we cannot ever do that, unless we have honorable people in charge. Honorable people whom we may not always agree with one hundred percent of the time, but again, we must see that we all essentially seek the same destination, even if we have different ideas about how to get there.
Voting is one of those safety nets, and any one of us who takes that for granted, endangers us all. I still believe in our original country’s motto, e pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
It’s time for us to act like one voice, and put our petty squabbles about the minutiae aside, and make sure we all stand together. Because we are stronger and better together. We really are.
The only thing, the good, honorable, brave, and wise thing that will ensure we even have a future to change, is our right to make our voices heard on a ballot. And this right, this magnificent responsibility, has somehow become just another vapid decision of no consequence, as if giving our power to a representative is no more consequential than a vote for a contestant on a reality show.
There are still those among us–in the United States particularly–who think they actually have the luxury of not voting, or of casting a “protest” vote. Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as a protest vote. It’s merely screaming into the void. You protest by getting in the street and making yourself seen and heard. You vote, by pulling a damn lever, or checking a damn box.
Any nonvote, or vote for another candidate who has no actual chance of winning, is the same as a vote for evil, and indeed, a vote for the party or person who hopes you do just that, so they can remain in power. They hope to undermine your faith in the electoral process. They run or support third party candidates, hoping that candidate will shave the votes from their opponent.
This respected scholar with whom I sparred last night, made it clear that Hillary Clinton was not a perfect enough candidate for his vote. First, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate. And second, why was that his criteria? Was it because she is a woman? Was it because she is white? Was it just because she, like many other in the Democratic party, have evolved from outdated stances, but were still not exactly in lock-step with every bullet-point in the professor’s agenda? Or was it just the professor’s own greed and thirst for the spotlight? Was he just trying to sell more books?
We might never know the truth of that.
But the professor misses the point entirely, when he said, “I never argued that she was corrupt. I actually wrote a piece in Time about my reasons. But why are we relitigating 2016? Because some folks want me to shut up and just follow like good little boy. That?s not going to happen. Ever.”
It’s obvious, that he is referencing part of the black experience of not being heard, of being told to sit down and shut up. Of not being able to vote, even. And I should point out, that is also the experience of WOMEN.
And anyway, I had never suggested he “follow like a good little boy.” This is a case of claiming racism, where none exists. He’s attempting to martyr himself for no reason. If I weren’t disabled and at high risk of COVID, I would be marching with the Black Lives Matter protestors. I am sickened by the way people of color are being treated, and have always been treated, and it MUST change. So, his efforts to play the victim card falls flat. The whole point was that he is one of our de facto leaders, by virtue of his position in society, in academics, in expertise.
To his statement, I responded that I was not asking him to follow, but indeed to lead. Lead by example. Lead by showing others that casting a vote is not just a right, but responsibility, a sacred privilege hard-won by those who came before us. People like John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Martin Luther King, Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. The list is long. And yet this black professor thought that sitting out the vote, instead of getting out the vote, was somehow a more esteemed decision. I will not ever support or respect anyone who climbs over the bodies of others to get to that mountaintop, only to beat his chest and pontificate about the experience of an oppressed people.
I’m an author, so I appreciate pretty words perhaps more than the next person, but words must be backed by actions. It is not enough to talk about things. We must also DO things. And one of those things is to vote.
I will enthusiastically be voting for Biden-Harris.