Voting a Uniquely American Dilemma for me at least. Maybe You can Help Me? (1)


For those of you who don’t know I am a|an

  1. Educated African American Male of
  2. Haitian descent born and raised
  3. in NYC, particularly Brooklyn

I have never been arrested. I don’t have children out of wedlock or any children at all. I have led a quiet happy existence without ever voting.  Voting for me is a dilemma, a perplexing question and the minute I go to articulate the nature of why such a simple act, why such a  basic civic duty is such a heavy duty for me, I am cut off, not allowed to voice my opinion.

To add insult to injury I am constantly told how many people died for me to be able to vote as if to guilt me into doing something that is completely nonsensical to me.  Recently USA Today reported that  90 million Americans eligible to vote wont vote this election, and I thought maybe it would be an opportune time to share why so far I haven’t in the 13 or so years I have been eligible to vote, I probably wont in what seems to be an election that will decide the future of American.

The Journey Begins

Often of my blog I refer to myself as the greatest patriot of my Generation because I have studied american history and still love being an American. I love my country so much I don’t have to paint erroneous, fictitious pictures of it to help me believe in something that is as real and meaningful as wind in dry glass or rats feet over broken glass in our dry cellars, to quote TS Eliot.

Every American citizen has a unique view of what America is and what it is to be an American. This unique view is influenced of course by a diversity of factors some of which are: age, race, financial status, and class status to name a few. In one of the first unnecessarily long speeches my father told me as a boy he said: “Marc (not my real name) , this is not our country, you cannot expect a White person to help you succeed in their own country.” When my parents, who are US citizens first came here to NYC in the 70’s, it  was a very different place. The African American civil rights movement considered by some historians to have ended in 1968 was still in everyone’s mind even surprisingly in the minds of many immigrants. My parents were here less than a decade after 1968. They got, as is a special privilege of some immigrants, to experience many different type of bigotry and racism.  As a consequence I heard things like this growing up:

  • These white people will kill you if you speak the truth about anything going on 
  • You have to be smart, you cant rely on anyone to help you, government, family or friends
  • Your Friends will sell you out or throw you under a bus if they can so they can get ahead
  • No white person is going to train you so well that you will be hired over another white person
  • The cops here will arrest you for doing nothing, once you have a record here you wont amount to anything

My First Point

No politician will bite the hand that feeds them

My parents are still tight lipped about what they went through here as immigrants. I have asked and asked but nothing. But looking at the historical treatment of both immigrants and “blacks” I don’t really want to know. I personally have a very cynical view of things. I feel that politicians don’t really care about, and cannot relate to the people they represent. Politician have many suits, great health insurance, and they are not starving, the do not get woken up to the sounds of bullets in the night. As I see it, to run a campaign takes money and a politician will always be loyal to the person who gives him or her money. If I am a politician and some oil companies donate huge undisclosed sums to my campaign, will I ever back climate control legislation that may affect negatively the oil  companies, or bills for alternative energy ?

A politician speaks always for those who put him in power. Votes don’t put people in power, campaign money does.  Campaign moneys buys you the fancy photo-ops, commercial, analyst, manage your campaign donation, speech writers, event planners, propaganda manufacturers. The votes are a secondary consequence of the money.  If money to burn wasn’t a factor in elections why are we so obsessed with how much Romney and Obama raise every month for their respective campaigns, and who are the undisclosed donors to some very influential PACs and  Super Pacs. 

My Second Point

The Reagan Administration aka Government historicall manuipulating voters

Ronald Reagan has  been mentioned so much as a maverick , as a leader as an Ideal at least amongst Republicans. I remember doing my spelling homework i think ion 2nd or 3rd grade and seeing a speech with the crowds roaring for Reagan chanting Four More Years, Four More Years!!! And so this excerpt from Howards Zinn’s peoples History of the United States:

When Reagan arrived in Pittsburgh in April 1983 to make a speech, 3000 people, many of them unemployed steelworkers, demonstrated against him, standing in the rain outside his hotel. Demonstrations by the unemployed were taking place in Detroit, Flint, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Washington—over twenty cities in all.

Just around that time, Miami blacks rioted against police brutality; they were reacting against their general deprivation as well. The unemployment rate among young African-Americans had risen above 50 percent, and the Reagan administration’s only response to poverty was to build more jails. Understanding that blacks would not vote for him, Reagan tried, unsuccessfully, to get Congress to eliminate a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had been very effective in safeguarding the right of blacks to vote in Southern states

The repeated elections of Republican candidates, Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George Bush in 1988, were treated by the press with words like “landslide” and “overwhelming victory.” They were ignoring four facts: that roughly half the population, though eligible to vote, did not; that those who did vote were limited severely in their choices to the two parties that monopolized the money and the media; that as a result many of their votes were cast without enthusiasm; and that there was little relationship between voting for a candidate and voting for specific policies.

This isn’t the only time Politicians have influenced voting in American history.

I have to go make dinner 

So far what I have hoped to illustrate is that as an American citizen I do not feel that politicians represent me or my interest. This is not even looking at things such as a race and financial standing. Secondly there is a history of politician nefariously influencing voting, in particularly that of many racial minorities and the poor.  I have to take care of things and I will be back to continue this, but I want to live with an image that came to my mind while writing this, it is from E.E. Cummings :

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
—long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

Side note: Look at the titles of the related articles below and tell me if you see  a pattern.

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5 comments

  1. Dont you think though that if the 90 million or so who do not vote decide to vote this year or any other elevation year perhaps a real difference just might be made…

    I gave a speech years ago in college about exercising your right to vote…Americans unlike many other parts of the world are somewhat fortunate in terms of election fairness…not all perfect but better.

    Many people fought and died so many people like you and I can get the “life” and rights we have now and in my humble opinion the least we can do on our part is vote

    Like

    • I’m one of those individuals who have “fought” and put my life on the line for the right to be “free” in this country. I served in the US Army from 1998-2007. While voting is considered to be a noble thing and the basic duty of all citizens, with the climate of the political atmosphere, it amounts to very little.

      I appreciate those who have come before me and have laid their lives on the line; some actually gave their lives for such causes. But it’s a different environment now. Voting doesn’t matter at all. It’s more symbolic than anything else.

      The politicians that hold office in this day and age don’t care about the voters because the voters aren’t putting money into their campaigns. If we take a step back and look at things for what they are, we’ll see that we are really voting against our own interests.

      The least we can really do to make a change is not vote; not give validity to these candidates. There’s not one candidate that I have seen that truly represents any of my views. Now don’t get me twisted, I’m not saying that one doesn’t exist, I’m saying that I have yet to see one and that’s probably because they don’t have the money to get their message out there.

      That’s just my humble opinion….

      Like

  2. Oh, yes, a certain party even now is trying to make changes that will keep out voters. It makes me ill to think how long it has taken to get to where we are now in regards to racism. And the election of Obama has only shown that it still exists

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    • Yeah. I agree with you you make a valid point. The reason I started writing the series on voting with more pieces on the way was because I think we should take a moment to really see how far we have come and how much is left to go. Its a good idea every now and then to rally look at things beyond what the pundits and newspapers say and such and see what is really actually there.

      Like

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