The obligation of voting
By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
Now that the conventions of the Democratic and Republican political parties are over, it’s time to do some serious critical thinking and analysis of how and for whom we are going to vote.
Contrary to popular political thought, the best way to waste your vote is not to stay home and not vote but to support a candidate and expect nothing from him/her or not to expect them to press your issues.
Voting is a transactional process, you give someone your vote and in return that person advocates your political interests wherever and whenever possible. Voting should not be based on anything except the integrity of the candidate, common interests and the intelligence of his/her political reasoning.
If we are going to cast votes that have value, we cannot be more impressed with the style of a candidate than the substance of a candidate. Just as important is the history of a candidate. Have they given us anything but promises, are they as concerned about us as they are other constituencies, and while they may be aware of our presence, are they aware of our needs?
I could be wrong but I don’t see the Republicans pushing an agenda that targets rising violence in Black com-munities or the increasing poverty rate for our people or the need to find more innovative ways to better prepare students attending public schools.
I don’t believe they will point out the poison called hip hop being produced and sold by record companies that has Black boys believing that guns, sex, misogyny, and wealth by any means possible is “keeping it real” is deliberately destructive to that music’s target audience. Somehow I don’t see that happening.
I don’t believe Mitt Romney knows or cares that Ward 8 in Washington, D.C. is three miles from the White House and leads that city in un-employment and HIV infection rates. Nor do I think he knows that there were 57 homicides in Chicago during the month of August and many of those killed were children.
Somehow that kind of information escapes the Republican Party and Mitt Romney. It seems to have escaped the Democrats too.
How could that many people including children be killed in one month in a major city and the President not call the situation a national state of emergency? The murder rate in Chicago is up 31 percent over the rate last year during the same period of time.
Is the relationship between the President and the Mayor of Chicago, who is his former Chief of Staff, more important to him than acknowledging that although the Mayor may not want to admit it, Chicago needs his help to restore safety in that city?
And what about Black unemployment? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for Black men stands at 14.1 percent, for the total Black population, its 14 percent; white males are at 6.9 percent and for whites in general, it is 7.2 percent. White teens are at 22.8 percent and Black teens are at 36.6 percent of un-employment numbers.
Yet, I refuse to believe that the President is responsible for not moving as forcefully as these issues as he should have. That responsibility is on those of us who believe that his ethnic color is more important than his political performance. And who believe that critical analysis examination of what the President has and has not done for Black folks is not only unwarranted but is ethnically treasonous.
Those folk sound like right wing Republicans to me.
What then is our voting obligation? Not to Romney I’m sure. So do we vote for Obama in spite of his rarely taking notice of our needs? Do we prioritize local politics? Do we forget that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for an evil?
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