by Jeff Johnson, Special to BlackAmericaWeb.com
As we look at all that is going on around us, it is more apparent than ever that being truly engaged in the political process is an essential tool to build the future we want for ourselves and our families. But it also remains a tool to help establish justice.
Troy Davis was just denied clemency at the hands of a politically-appointed parole board that essentially said he will die tomorrow. A district attorney decided that the death certificate would be signed and could have decided to open a new case. Many of you engaged a Republican governor – politically elected – in Ohio to help a fellow citizen receive justice as she attempted to deal with a politically-affected issue of school options for her children. Our president is currently engaged in a fight to not just encourage job creation, but to challenge a partisan-driven Congress to make politically beneficial decisions related to the U.S. tax code. In the midst of those very visible political realities, I watched the city of Baltimore essentially elect a mayor last week, with only 20 percent of the vote determining the Democratic candidate for mayor in a city where the primary essentially ensures the office.
This is not an indictment against Baltimore alone, but rather using Baltimore as an example that reflects an electorate that is so fed up with politics with a little “p” that it has turned off from politics with a big “P.” And those who are left to play the game, when good citizens get frustrated, are often those who would manipulate the void in the name of policies and regulation that benefit the few and not the many.
Perhaps I am idealistic in thinking that the people can actually yield more power than it seems that we do. But I am not so jaded that my vision or desire to affect the country we live in for the better has been squashed. And I hope that yours is not either.
There are a few ways to use the power that we do have to create the country we want to see.
1) Diligent patience. I look at what is happening with many so-called liberals and President Obama. There are actually some that call themselves Democrats looking to identify a liberal opponent for the president. While, I don’t like everything the administration has done,
I have always believed that the president has the best interest of the country in mind. And even when challenging him the way I did Presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush before him, I also celebrated the things that President Obama has done in my interest.
To label President Obama ineffective to the point of trying to get citizens to vote for Ralph Nadar is not only – in my opinion – misguided, but foolish. Liberals who want change should at least pick a new horse and not an old one that has never won a race, only spoiled ones for those who actually believed in similar goals.
But now is not the time for infighting. Engage with your president, your governor, Congress, City Council and school board. But also be honest about what they have to work with to make dreams out of a nightmarish situation.
2) Commit to knowledge. Let’s share more information. A guy asked me yesterday who Troy Davis was. Last Tuesday, I asked someone if they were voting, and they said, “I don’t watch ‘Dancing with the Stars.’” The stakes are too high in many of our 2011 local elections to sit out. Let’s use the November 2011 elections as our training for the 2012 run.
Up your political issue intake by reading the paper one more day a week than you already do. For some of you, that means once. Sign-up for the text updates from a news website to stay up on information you would normally never check for.
On your drive home from work, listen to a news station that you don’t know exists now, and talk to your spouse, kids, or your “peoples” about a political issue. You may be surprised what you learn or are inspired to learn.
3) Utilize the tools we have available. Are you registered now? Why not? Are you registered at the address that you now live in? Why not? Over the next year, I want you to support and utilize 1-866-MYVOTE-1. It is the onestop source to register to vote, find your polling place and talk about any voting problems anywhere in the country on Election Day.
This is an effort of the NAACP and Urban League and has already been endorsed by the CBC and others. I want you to support this effort with me because we need our own tools to ensure our own power. Before September is out, get 50 people to register who are not, and then commit to 10 people a month every month through the 2012 election.
So many think we talk about voting too much. We, our entire nation, are in a crisis, family. And only those who fight through the crisis will have a say in what happens when the storm has passed. In the midst of your own financial issues, and as you push, struggle, and strive to survive and win in your own life, don’t let this slip. Being a part of the political process is not the silver bullet. But it is one weapon that we cannot enter the war without.
Let’s commit to being politically strong, not in 2012, but now – and always. Fight for Troy Davis; the Georgia district attorney can still call for a withdrawal of Troy Davis’ death warrant.