We all know the cliche: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". If we know this and believe it to be true then when it comes to the election cycle we're definitely insane.
Every year we're bombarded with advertising that's mostly negative. We get our full share of speculation from the various media pundits and because we're special we get to hear the candidates debate issues that someone else decided were important for us to listen to. Then there's the telephone solicitations, bulk mailings, and if we're lucky the door to door visits. All of this leads up to the culminating event, Election Day.
And then what?
Candidates get elected, some of us are happy and some of us aren't. Then we sit back and wait another year for the cycle to begin again. In the meantime we complain that our elected officials aren't doing the job we elected them to do. Do we really think just voting for a candidate is enough? Are we being naive to expect them to do their job and get it done? We may not want to hear it but a career politician"s primary objective is to get reelected. It's the reason why they call themselves career politicians. Politics is their job and they don't want to be unemployed. This is why they stay in constant fundraising mode. They need to replenish the "war chest" for the next cycle.
We need to do a better job of holding our elected officials accountable. We must remind them that we're the ones who put them in office and the ones who can vote them out. We need to be actively involved in the political process.
Here are some things you can do:
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At some point in our lives we’ll reflect on and reminisce about the good old days. We'll talk about how we had simpler life. We’ll say “I’m glad I’m not a young person today, there are so many hurdles they have to navigate. We did not have to deal with gun violence, student debt, high unemployment, failing schools, and a myriad of other issues that our youth are facing today”. We’ll tend to forget that there were challenges when we grew up also. It’s human nature to look at the past and remember the good things; it’s a personal form of revisionist history.
Although we’ll look at our past with nostalgic reverence most of us will acknowledge it for what it is. The past is the past. It is dead and buried. We should remember it, pay homage to it, and use it to build our future by continuing to move forward.
Unfortunately there is a rising segment of the population in our country that literally wants to go back to the good old days. They want to go back to “traditional American values”. The simpler life for them was also a time of dominance and power. This movement is happening in plain sight and we are unwilling participants watching it happen. Many of the landmark judicial and legislative decisions that happened in the last 50 years are being challenged, manipulated, and in some cases overturned.
Let's take a look at a few examples.
Malcolm X (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
"The Ballot or the Bullet" is the name of a public speech by Malcolm X. In the speech, which was first delivered on April 3, 1964, at Cory Methodist Church in Cleveland,Ohio, Malcolm advised African-Americans to judiciously exercise their right to vote, but he cautioned that if the government continued to prevent African-Americans from attaining full equality, it might be necessary for them to take up arms. It was ranked 7th in the top 100 American speeches of the 20th century by 137 leading scholars of American public address.
Close to 50 years later this speech is still relevant.
"....22 million black victims of Americanism are waking up and they’re gaining a new political consciousness, becoming politically mature. And as they develop this political maturity, they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again. And that means that any block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. You’re in a position to determine who will go to the White House, and who will stay in the doghouse. You’ re the one who has that power....You’ re the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington DC. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80% of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House. When you see this, you can see that the Negro vote is the key factor. And despite the fact that you are in a position to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? ...... Anytime you throw your weight behind the political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that Party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that Party, you’re not only a chump, but you’re a traitor to your race."
Before I get too far into it. Here's some background information from the U.S. Electoral College's website:
The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.
Presidential electors are selected on a state-by-state basis, as determined by the laws of each state. Generally (with Maine and Nebraska being the exceptions), each state appoints its electors on a winner-take-all basis, based on the statewide popular vote on Election Day. Although ballots list the names of the presidential candidates, voters within the 50 states and Washington, D.C. actually choose electors for their state when they vote for President and Vice President. These presidential electors in turn cast electoral votes for those two offices. Even though the aggregate national popular vote is calculated by state officials and media organizations, the national popular vote is not the basis for electing a President or Vice President.
When I'm told there is not a racial distrust of President Obama.
When I'm told we live in a post racial society and there's no longer a need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
When I told Affirmative Action has run it's course and it's time for us to move on.
When I'm told there is no organized voter suppression plan.
When I have to read about this:
On Monday, first lady Michelle Obama had a question and answer session on Twitter focused on her campaign for healthy kids. On Tuesday the Daily Kos published an article documenting some of the remarks that were posted under the hashtag #AskFLOTUS.
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.