by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
It's hard to see how an election is so darn important for black America when the candidates aren't talking about the issues. Which one is the candidate that wants to roll back the prison state, or stop the drug war, or question gentrification? Is there a candidate who wants full funding of public education? A candidate who will cut off troops and military aid to Africa? If not, what are we voting for?
Is This Really The Most Important Election Ever? If So, Then Where Are Our Issues?
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
This is the most important election ever, black America is told every two and four years. That's probably true if one's own status and political legitimacy are on the line, and for the black political class that's really what this election is all about. It's about their legitimacy. It's about their perks and set-asides, their TV shows and the government grants to their ministries. It's about their careers, and those of their hangers on and aspirants.
This election is not about black unemployment, officially at 14%, actually double that, and in the inner cities of Atlanta, Chicago and like places closer to 50% of young men including ex-prisoners, because no Democrat running at any level proposes to address that. This election is not about black wealth, although the foreclosure epidemic drove the average black family's wealth down to a twentieth, as opposed to a tenth of that possessed by the average white family, because no Democrat running wants to talk about that either.
This election is not about black child poverty, which is the highest it's been since Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty nearly fifty years ago, and it's certainly not about rolling back the prison state or reconsidering the drug war because no Democrat wants to talk about any of that either.
This election is not about pursuing a binding climate change treaty, about reining in Big Oil and Big Energy, who are determined to keep on doing what they're doing despite the glaciers and icecaps from Tibet to Greenland, from the Andes to Alaska melting, despite advancing deserts, record storms every year and climate change that could threaten billions of lives worldwide. While Democrats on the stump will admit humans have begun to hideously alter the global climate, Democrats in power DO nothing to slow it down.
This most-important-ever election for black America is not about ending military aid to 53 out of 54 African countries (every one except Eritrea) or cutting off our proxy armies that have killed six million Congolese since 1996. It's not about ceasing to blow up Afghan and Somali and Yemeni and Pakistani children and bystanders into pink mist with robot drones, and it's certainly not about withdrawing our support for apartheid Israel. Our elected Democrats endorse those things just as heartily as Republicans.
This election is not about justice for immigrants. Republicans talk the meaner game, but Barack Obama actually deported more than a million people in his first three years, more than all recent Republicans combined. This election is not about halting the privatization of education, because Romney and Obama agree on that too.
It might be the most important election ever for the black political class, but it's not the least bit about beginning to halt the wave of gentrification that decimates black communities everywhere, or making a start at rolling back the prison state, granting full citizenship rights to and ending discrimination against former prisoners, or even ceasing the incarceration of juveniles with adults. It's not about ending or even slowing down the futile, hypocritical and racist war on drugs.
This election is not even about who will be on the US Supreme Court the next twenty years. The last time a defense lawyer made the Supreme Court was Thurgood Marshall. While on the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Barack Obama declined to ask nominees Scalia or Roberts about their affiliation with the Federalist Society or query them on any of its radical beliefs like the "takings doctrine." Obama's own nominees, while demographically correct, have moved the court rightward, not leftward in the opinion of many legal scholars.
The election is certainly not about punishing Wall Street for having crashed the economy, or keeping them from repeating their crime in the near future --- Republicans and Democrats alike agree that banksters deserve their bailout while homeowners, credit card debtors and student borrowers deserve to drown.
So for black people, where are our dogs in this race? Voting Republican is out of the question, that's like chickens lining up for Popeye's. If you believe that your vote IS your voice, voting for Democrats who murder civilians, who allow the banks to plunder the economy, who won't address unemployment and want to privatize education and everything in sight is a similar kind of volunteered slavery.
All the talk about "strategic voting" and "safe states" is, for black people, subtrefuge to justify the irrationality, the foolishness of casting your own vote against your own survival. If our votes are our voices, it's time to use those for our own good.
For my own part, I will be voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party's candidate, and Cheri Honkala. These are people unafraid to declare the drug war must be ended, and a WPA-style Green Jobs -Green New Deal program initiated, that we have to bring the troops home and cease supporting apartheid Israel. Stein and Honkala are white, of course. But their politics, by the measure of Martin Luther King at least, are blacker than Barack Obama's have ever been.