Dissing the Franchise


[photo of Summer M.]

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Dissing the Franchise

For weeks I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to say what I’m about to. There are several reasons for this. First, I didn’t want to be repetitive, and what I’m going to say is in some ways an updated version of a couple of blogs I wrote on my old personal site four years ago. Second, what I’m about to express is in some ways antithetical to the aims of this site. Finally, paroxysms of righteous indignation on Facebook and in private emails and texts aside, I’ve shown great restraint, and like my friend Ashon said to me, “I refuse to be called a hater everyday.” But whatever. It’s the Monday before the national election, and not mentioning it on a blog about pop and American culture would just seem odd. As much as I’d like to wax poetic about the cognitive dissonance of watching Black Girls Rock! on BET with a #RHOA season premiere chaser, I should say a word or two about tomorrow.

Well, here are three: I’m not voting.

Let me be clear. This is a purely personal choice. I’m not advocating not voting. I’m simply articulating my decision given the circumstances as I understand them. Millions of people look at the same situation and choose to vote anyway. And that’s cool. Do you. Go vote. Rock your “I voted” sticker. Have an election night party. Cry if Obama wins again; threaten to move to Canada if he doesn’t. Brush up on the Electoral College. Do whatever legally makes you feel good #BillyBobThornton. As for me, however, I will be casting absolutely zero ballots tomorrow.

I will not be shamed for this decision. If my Grandma Charlotte can’t compel me to vote, no one can. I know my people marched and died for the right to vote. I used to go with my great-grandparents when they voted. At this point, I’m pretty sure that whatever excitement I had about witnessing them exercise the franchise had more to do with the fact that they were in my school than the fact that they knew a time when they couldn’t politically engage in such ways. Maybe the magic of Eyes on the Prize wore off back in ’08, but there is an incredible difference between not being allowed to vote and choosing not to. I choose the latter. And this does not disrespect my ancestors or the fight many of them waged for the right to vote. I won’t make present day decisions based upon guilt or some sort of debt that black pundits think I owe. And I also will not assume that being denied something means that the thing is good for me.  Such ideas would require me to attach more meaning to the thought process of those doing the denying. And from what I can tell, those folks don’t necessarily know what’s good for themselves, so why would I assume that their mere act of denial means that I should have it? I take a similar approach to same-sex marriage: although the denial of the right to marry is wrong, it does not mean that marriage is, inherently, a good thing.

I’m not voting because on both a political and personal level, I do not unequivocally support the aims of the Obama administration.

Dissing the Franchise.

On The Morning of the Election (Or, “Your Abstention Will Not Protect You: Voting and Radical Black Feminist Politics”) | The Feminist Wire


On The Morning of the Election (Or, “Your Abstention Will Not Protect You: Voting and Radical Black Feminist Politics”)

November 6, 2012



By C. Riley Snorton and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Today marks the conclusion of the voting period, which will settle numerous electoral decisions, including various seats in the Congress, local and state referenda, and most notably, the Presidential seat. Yesterday, we read a number of eloquent arguments about why some people are choosing to abstain from voting. And while we respect our friends and the decisions they are making, we are troubled by the suggestion that abstention from voting marks a step toward an ethical higher ground. In our view, this is simply not the case.


On The Morning of the Election (Or, “Your Abstention Will Not Protect You: Voting and Radical Black Feminist Politics”) | The Feminist Wire.

The Moment of Truth is Near: Election Day Eve | Polite On Society

The Moment of Truth is Near: Election Day Eve

Here we are. Tomorrow is the moment of truth. After much words exchanged, political ads and accusations the voters will choose the next president of the United States. President Obama and Mitt Romney have their core supporters, and areas of the country in which they have an advantage over the other. At the moment, the polls have the President with a slight advantage in many of the battleground states. Romney, as of this post is ahead in Florida. From one day to the next, they say different things. Many question if the polls were accurate due to what some see as undersampling. Now, we will find out what the case is.

Tomorrow, barring some upset with the vote count[cough] voter suppression[/cough] or electoral college, this race will be decided. Election fatigue has set in for many, and there is weariness on the issue. New York City and parts of New Jersey are struggling to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In this time of crisis and desperate need, rhetoric about small government is quite tone deaf. It remains to be seen whether this message will be accepted, and given a mandate on the national level. Whatever sentiments out there about the limitations of electoral politics, that is still no reason to ignore them.



The Moment of Truth is Near: Election Day Eve | Polite On Society.

Dr. Wilmer Leon: Residents vs. Refugees, Racial Differences in Katrina and Sandy | Black Blue Dog

Dr. Wilmer Leon: Residents vs. Refugees, Racial Differences in Katrina and Sandy | Black Blue Dog.


by Dr. Wilmer Leon

Last week tropical cyclone Sandy ravaged the Northeastern United States.  It was one of the largest and fiercest storms to hit the East Coast in years causing widespread flooding, power outages, and damage.

Two of the hardest hit areas on the East Coast were New Jersey and New York.  As the television networks took viewers into the boroughs of the “Jersey Shore” (home of “Snooky”, “Pauly D”, and “The Situation”) as well as Staten Island, NY I was struck by the contrast between the coverage of Sandy and the coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

First, one could walk away from watching the coverage of Sandy with the impression that areas such as Harlem and Red Hook in New York were not impacted by the storm and their residents are not in need of assistance.  I know they are because I’ve talked with them.  Second, it’s interesting how those displaced by Sandy have been referred to as “residents” while those displaced by Katrina were referred to by the Associated Press and other media sources as “refugees.”

To the Youngins Planning Not to Vote « Commentaries on the Times

To the Youngins Planning Not to Vote

ro-Americans attempting to vote in Alabama

Reflections of a Reformed Non-Voter

I get it. Up until I was in my late thirties, I could’ve given a shit about politics. As far as I was concerned all politicians were corrupt and could give a shit about me so it didn’t matter. I had my own life to live & taking the time to go to a polling place just to cast a useless ballot? I had far more important things to do.

It amazes me now when I think back on how certain I was of my position. Voting was a waste of time because I felt it didn’t make a difference.  So I understand. I’ve been your age. But I ask you for a few minutes to suspend this kind thinking and remember that you have not yet been mine. And only if you’re lucky will you get to be. For a few moments, I’m asking you to listen to your elder.

Far be it for me to try and lecture young people on what they should or shouldn’t do with their lives. Anyone who knew me then would agree that the fact that I survived that whole period is a miracle in and of itself. And in one piece, and my soul in tact.  No doubt. So I’m not coming from any lofty place of knowledge to bestow upon you.

I just want to share a few observations that changed my view over the years and helped me realize things that actually did matter for my life and, ultimately that of the lives of my children, who fall within the age group I’m speaking to here.

I write this because time taught me that my previous views about voting were only partially informed and I’ll attempt to fill in the holes that I later realized that I missed. First of all, I realized that when I was three years old, my parents couldn’t vote legally. There were all kinds of discriminatory Jim Crow laws designed to keep Black people from voting.  Black men and women took their lives in their hands if they dared to go to the polling place. The obvious reason that some folks didn’t want Black people to vote is because they would vote for people who would pass legislation that would benefit them.

When I pondered why there was such an effort to keep certain people from the polling place, I had to concede that, in spite of the evidence that brought me to my indifferent stance, voting must matter. And the fact that I was actually born on this planet while some of these things were still happening was a little jarring for me when my eyes opened. That was just the crack in the veneer of my strongly-held position on voting. Remembering the sacrifices of those who went before me. An interwoven mix of ancestors without whom neither I nor my friends would exist.

When I looked a little deeper at the history of voting rights and the reasons behind all the turmoil, it was clear that, in spite of the obvious gamesmanship that is the body politic, a certain faction was consistent in their efforts to keep the portion of the population that would likely vote against them from voting. Without delving into the pit of political party policies over the centuries, I’ll just say that the group that consistently worked against voting rights for all American citizens often represented the interests of the rich, the White, and the male.

The Women’s Suffrage movement was fought over 100 years before women were allowed the vote in 1920. Pioneers like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells, just to name a few, spent their lives and died still fighting for the cause for voting & civil rights. The violence inflicted upon citizens merely trying to exercise their democratic right to vote is an alarming reminder of the lengths some will go to in order to control the inalienable rights of others. Why? I had to ask myself, why, if my vote didn’t matter would such powerful forces put so much effort into keeping me from doing it?

To the Youngins Planning Not to Vote « Commentaries on the Times.

Ohio Secretary of State accused of installing suspicious software on voting machines | theGrio


The Columbus Free Press is reporting that the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted allegedly ordered for “experimental software patches” to be installed on vote-counting machines in a number of Ohio counties.

According to the newspaper, voting rights activists are concerned that the software patches, which are usually used to update or change existing software, could potentially affect over 4 million registered voters, including those who live in Columbus and Cleveland.

Ohio law allows for the experimental use of voting equipment as long as it’s restricted to a limited number of precincts, and under the experimental label, equipment can legally be used without certification.

The Free Press revealed the contract between Husted’s office and the contracted vendor Election Systems and Solutions reads that the software has not been and does not need to be reviewed by any testing authority at the state or federal level.

Election Counsel Brandi Laser Seske sent out a memo to Secretary of State personnel yesterday, detailing the software. In the memo, she explains the software did not require review because it is not “involved in the tabulation or casting of ballots … or a modification to a certified system.”

Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, told theGrio that no patches were installed, describing instead a reporting tool software meant to “assist counties and to help them simplify the process by which they report the results to our system.”

McClellan said the tool serves to cut down on the amount of information precinct workers would have to key in by hand by allowing the results to be output onto a thumbdrive and uploaded at once into the Secretary of State’s system.


Ohio Secretary of State accused of installing suspicious software on voting machines | theGrio.

A Recent History of GOP Voter Suppression in Florida | The Nation

A Recent History of GOP Voter Suppression in Florida

The state of Florida has an unfortunate history of disenfranchising voters. We all remember the “hanging chads” of 2000. Less well-known is how Florida wrongly labeled 12,000 eligible voters as felons, 41 percent of whom were African-Americans, and kicked them off the voting rolls that year, which could have very well cost Al Gore the election. Florida attempted another controversial voter purge in 2004, but was forced to scrap the plan after public outcry (history is repeating itself this year). The 2008 election, however, was noticeably smooth in the Sunshine State, producing a surprising victory for Barack Obama.

Following the 2010 election, Florida Republicans concluded that it was a little too easy to vote in the state. “I want the people in the State of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who is willing to walk 200 miles for that opportunity he’s never had before in his life,” said GOP State Senator Michael Bennett. “This should not be easy.”

Upon taking office in 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Republican legislature drastically changed the state’s election laws by preventing ex-felons from being able to cast a ballot after serving their time, cutting back early voting from fourteen to eight days, and severely restricting voter registration drives.

A Recent History of GOP Voter Suppression in Florida | The Nation.

Parallels to country’s racist past haunt age of Obama – In America – CNN.com Blogs

Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama

This is the second in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at the optics of politics.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – A tall, caramel-complexioned man marched across the steps of the U.S. Capitol to be sworn into office as a jubilant crowd watched history being made.

The man was an African-American of mixed-race heritage, an eloquent speaker whose election was hailed as a reminder of how far America had come.

But the man who placed his hand on the Bible that winter day in Washington wasn’t Barack Obama. He was Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate.

His election and that of many other African-Americans to public office triggered a white backlash that helped destroy Reconstruction, America’s first attempt to build an interracial democracy in the wake of the Civil War.

To some historians, Revels’ story offers sobering lessons for our time: that this year’s presidential election is about the past as well as the future. These historians say Obama isn’t a post-racial president but a “post-Reconstructionist” leader. They say his presidency has sparked a white backlash with parallels to a brutal period in U.S. history that began with dramatic racial progress.

Some of the biggest controversies of the 2012 contest could have been ripped from the headlines of that late 19th-century era, they say: Debates erupt over voting rights restrictions and racial preferences, a new federal health care act divides the country, an economic crisis sparks a small government movement. And then there’s a vocal minority accusing a national black political leader of not being a “legitimate” U.S. citizen.

All were major issues during Reconstruction, an attempt to bring the former Confederate states back into the national fold and create a new era of racial justice. And many of the same forces that destroyed Reconstruction may be converging again, some scholars and historians say.



Parallels to country’s racist past haunt age of Obama – In America – CNN.com Blogs.




Los Angeles Sentinel, 11-01-12, p.A-6


he current presidential campaign and

election have become a crucial battleground and critical time of testing for us as a

people. It is not that this election will mark

an end of history, if President Obama loses,

or be a life-altering experience if he wins. In

any event, there will still be pressing problems of oppression, evil and injustice in the

world, and thus, the urgent and ongoing

need to resist, resolve and end them, and to

build and sustain a movement for the radical

reordering of U.S. society, its priorities and

practices, and the exceptionalist, selfdeceptive and destructive way it  conceives

and conducts itself at home and in the world.

Therefore, in assessing the actual

things at stake in this election and the critical role we must play in it, we must do several things.  First, we must recognize that

elections have never been and will never be

a cure-all, panacea or path to paradise. They

are always, including this one, a means to

some larger end. The strength of any election is the effective participation of the people, its calling into action an aware, organized and engaged people in pursuit of power over their destiny and daily lives and in

conscious and active concern for the quality

and direction  of their lives, the promise of

their future, and the well-being of the world.

Here, it is clear that full Black participation

is not only key to the outcome of this election and to keeping vital gains we’ve made

during the Obama Administration and in

other areas and eras of struggle, but also in

regaining our historical initiative and expansive self-conception as a people.

Second,  then, to understand the issues

involved in a  useful way,  we must, at one

point, separate the meaning of this election,

from the special meaning President Obama

has for the overwhelming majority of us. In

this heightened sense of meaning, he has

become, not simply a President or worldrenown politician, but rather the symbol and

substance of an awesome achievement that

engenders in many a respect bordering on

reverence, usually reserved for the divine

and that makes our people forget they, themselves, made the  miracle they credit him

alone with achieving. Thus, he is, in many

quarters, given an unwise and self-defeating

immunity from criticism, questioning and


Such an unreflective posture deprives

him of the necessary and useful support and

push towards the progressive, which he has,

himself, conceded he needs and invited. Also, it relieves us of the ancient African ethical  responsibility “to bear witness to truth

and set the scales of justice in their proper

place, especially among those who have no

voice.” And it sets the stage for immobilizing disappointment in loss or failure of the

elected persons to act and achieve in ways

we had hoped or expected. But rightfully

read and engaged, elections are not the beginning or end of our struggle, but one particular and important field in our whole historical struggle for good in the world. Thus,

we must know and honor the whole of our

history and act accordingly.

The election, then, is not simply about

Obama, but about us, about what we stand

for and oppose, about our shared vision and

aspirations for our people, society and the

world. Also, it’s about which candidate, in

an imperfect world, comes closest to this,

even with serious  expected  and unexpected

flaws and failures to perform. And we know


Click to access BeforeandAftertheElections11-01-12.pdf

Right Wing Smear Formula: Lie Until You’re Caught | Crooks and Liars

Go Home


There is a formula for right-wing smears. We see it over and over again, some more elaborate than others. They find a way to be aggrieved at the hands of their targeted group, then blow it way out of proportion on the right-wing blogs and faux media until it makes its way to Fox News and the mainstream, like the Breitbart SWATters managed last summer. 

This one, out of Wisconsin, is especially egregious. Follow along, because it’s convoluted, which is what wingers love to do to confuse everyone. Via PRWatch:

Kyle Wood, described as a “full-time volunteer” for the Republican congressional candidate Chad Lee, last week told the right-wing website the Daily Caller, that he had been physically attacked and choked in his Madison apartment by an unknown assailant for being gay but supporting a Republican running against a gay Democrat. The odd tale, accompanied by staged-looking photos, was picked up by the Franklin Centersite Wisconsin Reporter and Breitbart blog. The Dane County GOP weighed in, issuing a statement backing Wood and his bona fides: “Wood is a full-time volunteer working with GOP 2nd District Congressional candidate, Chad Lee. He is brilliant, liked and respected by all who have worked alongside him on Lee’s campaign.”

via Right Wing Smear Formula: Lie Until You’re Caught | Crooks and Liars.