Bush's Morality: Electoral terrorism and war on the Hood
Charles E. Simmons
Detroit, MI 10 Nov., 2004--Although a trainload of CIA-style election tricks and outright suppression of the vote in African American and youth communities resulted in another grand theft of the presidency, Detroit voters are still determined to have democracy in America.
Even the two million Black, Brown and poor housed in Americas prisons must be shocked by the news of the Bush 'politricks.' Reports from the experts and communities alike reveal a long list of swindles that account for millions of discarded votes. They include voting machines that counted backwards and those that didn't function; polls that opened late and closed early; and those that were moved to different locations without notice. Other magical polls reported more than ten times the number of votes than voters. There were numerous accounts of officials who illegally disqualified voters for failure to produce multiple pieces of identification and other officials who rejected voters when the voting districts had failed to purge the records of voters who had changed residencies. There was the failure to count provisional votes and absentee ballots. And some voters were turned away because their district had no record of their registration. An egregious example of widespread criminal conduct was the mass circulation of flyers and the use of automated phone banks to tell voters--especially in the African American communities--that Democrats should vote on a day other than the official election date, or that they could vote via telephone. In addition, the Republican Party sent an army of suburban residents into the African American communities to challenge voters at the polls. Some of the challengers were overly aggressive and rude. In response, one angry resident in Detroit was overheard to tell a suburban challenger to back off. As he put it, "We ain't in Mississippi!" referring to the centuries of brutal oppression of African Americans in that state. One can guess what would have been the outcome if residents of The Hood had been sent to the suburban communities to challenge Republican residents about their voting rights.
At the historically Black institution, Prairie View College in Texas, students who were non-residents of the state had been threatened by county officials that if they voted in that district they would be prosecuted under the penalty of a $10,000. Fine and ten years in prison. The courageous students defied the authorities, marched on the county seat and voted in the largest numbers recorded. Nationwide, millions of young people--many for the first time--turned out to the surprise of officials everywhere. Cheers for our Hip Hop community! In Detroit and other cities, the Bush Administration appealed to African American ministers to use their pulpits and membership lists to win voters, while simultaneously threatening non governmental organizations and others with non-profit status with penalties for speaking out about the unjust domestic and militaristic policies of the Bush Administration. The most glaring example has been the War by the Administration on Americas oldest civil and human rights organization, the NAACP, bringing back recollections of the Georgia State legislature some 40 years ago when it refused to seat newly elected Representative Julian Bond because he had spoken out against the U.S bombing of poor families in an Asian Hood, Vietnam. Bond is now the executive secretary of the NAACP.
In spite of these illegal and immoral attacks, community voters-- including the elderly and infirm, and representatives from among the hundreds of thousands of homeless-- across the nation stood in long lines and insisted on their right to vote. For that, they should be commended and encouraged to continue the struggle for justice on all levels. A major example of positive and sustained community organizing has been the grassroots Detroit movement, 'Keep the Vote; No Takeover,' which led the successful fight to restore our democratic right to decide education policy in spite of a multimillion dollar corporate campaign for continued disenfranchisement. Among the many youth groups, we must pay tribute to those in 'The League of Pissed Off Voters" who researched, published and circulated brochures with explanations about many of the ballot proposals and the backgrounds of candidates.
Another source of the loss of the White House must be placed squarely at the door of the Democratic Party leadership. According to the analysis of electoral expert, Professor Ronald Walters of the University of Maryland, the Kerry team spent too much time at the Democratic Convention talking about Kerry's status as a Vietnam War hero and not enough time talking about domestic social and economic issues. And this at a time of de-industrialization when some 30,000 Detroiters have no water or utilities; illiteracy and infant mortality rates are higher than in Havana; and nationwide some 40 million go without health care or go to bed hungry every night. In Walters view, the Democratic Party leadership disrespected the African American leadership, and the pittance of voting outreach resources finally provided to the Black community only 30 days prior to the election was too little and too late to make a substantial difference.
Nor did the Party leadership allow those who had roots in the working class and poor communities to discuss their issues at the Democratic Convention. Why wasn't Congresswoman Maxine Waters allowed to speak about conditions of the poor of all colors in Los Angeles? With more than 100,000 humans already killed, why didn't the Democrats take a position against the Iraq War and the Bush policy of global war? Any of the thousands of homeless Vietnam veterans still suffering from Agent Orange could have been an example. Why wasn't the issue of Terrorism discussed outside of the Republican framework to explain that the roots of Terrorism is to be found in global poverty and injustice? Why were the Peace and Justice activists excluded from the discussion? Since the Democratic Party leadership worked so hard to exclude Ralph Nader from the ballots, it could have at least raised some of those grassroots issues.
In addition, the Democratic Party leadership chose to campaign seriously in only 17 states, the so-called Battleground territory, while the Republicans campaigned in all 51 states. Democrats failed to put substantial resources into the Southern African American community, where more than 56% of the Black community resides. Are these decisions now a pattern in the Democratic Party leadership, to be included in the discussion of morality, or was it incompetence? Will the Democratic Party leadership catch up with the new reality of the U.S. at a time when some 60% of the population is now female, Black and Brown, and is increasingly concerned about issues of social and economic justice and peace?
A major issue that neither political party has discussed is the severe crisis of American capitalism in the present era of globalization. Regardless of the choice of presidents, the economic system has a rapidly expanding policy of outsourcing, privatization, downsizing, and cutbacks in all benefits including health care and now--pensions. This new era of American capitalism calls for militarism as the dominant aspect of U.S. foreign policy. Such policies are not conceived of nor voted on by citizens anywhere, but are decided in corporate boardrooms by the greedy who benefit from the cheap labor, and the theft of oil, minerals and agricultural products from the poor two thirds of the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and also those millions who suffer poverty and discrimination in the rich countries.
The war on Iraq, like the war on the NAACP, and the War on Detroit, is a war on 99% of the human species, of every race and class and nation. This is what the anti-globalization movement is about. Under the banner, "Another World is Possible," it is seeking to bring together those who want a better quality of life for people and all life everywhere, through community gardening, grassroots organizing of rank and file workers and the unemployed, and the creation of alternative economic and social justice institutions. This grassroots movement of morality and justice and love is based on local community leadership. It seeks to spend local and global resources on housing, education, health, a clean environment and food, employment that is meaningful and productive, and the incorporation of cultural activities that enhance the beauty and sustainability of the common space. In other words, in spite of the Bush electoral 'politricks,' we the people are determined to transform our embattled Hoods into Neighborhoods throughout this embattled planet.
© 2004. Reprinted by permission of the author. Charles E. Simmons is a professor of law and journalism at Eastern Michigan University and co-chair of the Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit.
Search | Archives | Calendar | Directory | About / Subscriptions |