Monday, October 22, 2012

ON BOYCOTTING THE ELECTION 2012 by Kiilu Nyasha


If voting could change the system, they would make it illegal. (Jamil Al-Amin, aka H. Rap Brown) 

Here are a few arguments for those who insist on voting for the lesser of evils.

One of the first things Black folks say is, “We fought and died for the right to vote.” 

Yes, having fought in every war beginning with the revolutionary war of independence from Britain, we have always done the dying; we've always been on the front lines of struggle in this country.  SNCC, Fannie Lou Hamer, and all the valiant freedom fighters of the civil rights movement are to be honored and revered for their uncompromising fight for our right to vote.

However, after we won that particular battle in1965, the reactionaries in power initiated new ways to suppress and vacate our vote -- new rules and laws of disenfranchisement, such as denying prisoners and felons the vote, fraudulent registration procedures, vote tampering, rigged voting machines, new photo ID requirements, etc. 

Eric Nielson writes that since 2010, 11 states have passed laws that make it more difficult to vote. Citing a report from The Sentencing Project, 5.85 million people are now barred from voting because of a felony conviction, about 2.5 percent of the total population. The principled position would be all of us or none or all for one and one for all.

The systematic disenfranchisement of Black voters in Florida, 2000, and elsewhere across the country validates the following statement:
"...the two parties have combined against us to nullify our power by a 'gentlemen's agreement' of non-recognition, no matter how we vote...May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either Republican or the Democratic parties."  (W.E.B. DuBois)



Moreover, the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision making corporations persons and unleashing unlimited sums to campaign financing corrupts the voting process with media madness and chicanery.  It’s been projected that this presidential campaign will ultimately cost nearly $11 billion.

“All political parties, as things stand, will support the power complex. Any individual elected will either be a supporter of the established politics -- or an 'individual.'  [Such as Ralph Nader] What would help us, in fact, is to allow as many right-wing elements as possible to assume 'political' power...The fascists already have power. The point is that some way must be found to expose them and combat them. An electoral choice of ten different fascists is like choosing which way one wishes to die. The holder of so-called high public office is always merely an extension of the hated ruling corporate class [the 1%]. It is to our benefit that this person be openly hostile, despotic, unreasoning. We are not living in a nation where left-wing parties hold eighty out of two hundred seats in a congressional body....This is a huge nation dominated by the most reactionary and violent ruling class in the history of the world, where the majority of the people just simply cannot understand that they are existing on the misery and discomfort of the world." (George Jackson, Blood In My Eye) 

In fact, we Americans are hated more and more as this President targets innocent civilians with drones and kill lists for massacres and assassinations, supports fascist dictatorships, perpetrates imperialist wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) and military occupations (such as the Zionist occupation of Palestine), and escalating militarism across the globe in his aggressive pillaging of global  resources. 
We are hated because we claim to elect these imperialist warmongers and thus bear responsibility for their ongoing atrocities against other peoples in other sovereign nations.
“When any election is held it will fortify rather than destroy the credibility of the power brokers.  When we participate in this election to win, instead of disrupt, we’re lending to its credibility and destroying our own.  With all the factors of control over the electoral process in the hands of the minority ruling class, the people’s party can always be made to seem isolated, unimportant, even extraneous.  If these tactics [and voting is just that, a tactic] still give the appearance of revolution to some after decades of miscarriage, we are justified in replacing them as vanguard.”(Jackson, Blood In My Eye) 

In this case, or currently, “vanguard” should indicate a new revolutionary people’s party and platform NOT plugged into the system or trying to win a seat at the table-- or a united front of like-minded organizations/parties.
Finally, we don’t have a one-person-one-vote electoral process.  The Framers opted for a complex system of delegates called the Electoral College.  Each state would have a number of electors equal to their Representatives in the House plus their two Senators.  Whoever wins the most votes in the state gets all the electoral votes. This provided for a winner-take-all ballot in which voters cast their ballots for the candidate of their choice indirectly.  I.e., they are really signaling their choice to a slew of delegates who in turn are supposed to honor the popular vote in the final plebiscite a month later at the Electoral College. This process literally discards all the "losing" votes in each and every state, giving more power to the small states and putting a check on the power of the majority. And rest assured that people of color are the current majority.
For example, in Wyoming, it takes 167,000 votes to gain a single electoral vote; in California, it takes at least 645,000 to get one electoral vote, giving the Wyoming voter four times the voting power of Californians. Then, let’s say one million voters in California split their votes between the two candidates at 49% to 51%.  The 49%, or close to a half million votes would be discounted.  Repeat this process in 50 states and the number of votes discarded is mindboggling.  Yet we continually hear the propaganda that “Every vote counts!”  Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, four presidents were elected after losing the popular vote.
You must have noticed that neither candidate, Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney, spent time courting votes in the largest cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.).  Instead, they campaigned furiously in small, so-called “swing states” with predominately White populations to win the crucial electoral votes.  It’s clear that centuries of racial segregation, regional redistricting and poll maneuvering, especially the primaries, has rendered the smallest, Whitest states the most critical to Presidential candidates, presenting illusory photo ops for visual consumption on national TV fortifying the illusion of a predominately White, conservative electorate. 
In a kind of extension of the 3/5 of person adjudication by the Framers, the predominately urban Black/Brown prisoners are inflating the rural white populations leaving the urban areas underrepresented.
Since in most states no law binds the electors to honor the people's vote, the elector is free to vote for whomever he or she chooses.  Thus, it's easy to see that this undemocratic electoral process lends itself readily to fraud, manipulation, and corruption.  A number of polls found at least 70% of the American population favors abolishing the Electoral College. I think that percentage would be 99% if all eligible voters clearly understood it.
As for myself, I simply cannot be FOR what I’m AGAINST.  I cannot in good conscience vote for a fascist, for evil.  That’s my bottom line.
However, I will work to help organize our people, especially poor people, around their basic human needs: clean water, healthy food, decent housing, free quality education, health care, and child care while fighting warmongering foreign policy and the divisive negatives that preclude unity -- racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. I'll fight for true rehabilitation and abolition of the prison system and the death penalty.

 In the effort to become the new woman, I’ll work on my own flaws and isms in the process of making revolution.  I hope you’ll do the same.  Believe me, it’s a lot harder than casting a vote and will produce tangible, positive results, instead of more of the same only worse.
Think outside the box.  Dare to struggle; dare to win

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