Friday, January 14, 2005

Boxing Wit' Da Black Folk

I’m one of Sen. Barbara Boxer's recently proud constituents. Total props for her chutzpah at the joint Congressional session to ratify the Electoral College votes. By standing with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to protest the certification of Ohio's electoral votes, she helped bring attention to the fact that democracy, as a political philosophy, is in a state of crisis. The United States, by choice, is supposed to be the standard bearer of democracy, the model for the world. Yet regardless of whether the events of 2000 and 2004 are deemed minor anomalies or are symptomatic of a deeper systemic illness, our system is clearly suffering from a lack of integrity. Many prefer to take the view that this is merely partisan sour grapes, but we have a serious problem in this country right now. For one thing, I don't think the two-party system is appropriate any longer for a nation that is so much more populous and heterogeneous than when the Whigs fell by the wayside. But that is, perhaps, a secondary issue. At hand is the fact that the past two elections have been openly ceremonial at best. When tens of thousands of are denied the right to vote, the end result is elections sans democracy and further movement down the road of political repression. Meanwhile, if one examines the track record of election disputes in the international community—and, I love it when we send observers—it's hard believe that democracy is truly viable.

The word “democracy,” is becoming like the word “nigger” to me—both are ridiculous epithets. So when the wrong person uses “nigger,” even affectionately, it’s pretty insulting. When we go around liberating countries in the name of democracy, even affectionately, it’s pretty insulting. Along the same lines, when the word nigger is invoked, it conjures the image of a black face. When the word democracy is invoked, I picture, among other things, Viktor Yushenko and his dioxin-ravaged features. But I also picture people takin’ it to the streets. We don’t have enough of that here. The issues of voter fraud and election reform shouldn’t fall only to the shoulders of the elected. After all, they’re biased; the fraud and flawed system is how they got there! The poisoning we can certainly do without, but next time someone steals our votes, I hope we Americans get angry enough to be a true model for the world and show them that CBC isn't the only acronym for Niggaz With Attitude. Maybe it’s time for a Black Velvet Revolution.

Black Velvet Revolution?
Photo by Luc Gnago

Back to “Boxer’s Rebellion,” as the press took to calling it for a few days. . . . I received a message in my inbox inviting participation in the online survey her office is conducting to find out what we the people believe should be priorities for the 109th Congress. I was thrilled briefly to have chance to offer some input. The survey itself turned out to be extremely simplistic: choose your top three issues from a predetermined list of 17, with the opportunity for one write-in issue. At first glance, I noticed that many items on the given list are of equal importance, making it difficult to choose one over another. Upon a closer reading, I realized that most of them are pretty nebulous, e.g. “Passing an effective National Energy Policy.” What does that even mean, exactly? I’d like to see the U.S. move away from an oil-based economy, exploring alternatives such as hydrogen, solar, and wind power. Further, I would love to see the state of California take the lead in that. But none of that is conveyed in “Passing an effective National Energy Policy.” Or take healthcare. “Making health care more affordable for families” is one of the offerings. But what about single people? And does that encompass the elderly? Not necessarily because “Preserving Social Security and Medicare” is a separate topic—and so are “Ensuring veterans have adequate health care” and “Enacting a Patient’s Bill of Rights for those enrolled in HMOs.” By the way, I couldn’t choose Social Security as an issue because I think the fact that it’s fucked—incidentally, just like the Democratic Party as whole—is a foregone conclusion, and Medicare as a program is simply pathetic. Preserve them in their current forms? Hell no. Preserve them in terms of some sort of reform? Sure, but I need details. I opted to craft my own third priority: “voting reform/election reform/elimination of the Electoral College, hopefully with the bonus result of hastening the end of the Iraqi occupation.” But I also wanted to say something about ensuring the separation of church and state even as the fundamentalists take over. 3 items? 17? Without democracy, we don't have choices; without the act of choosing and being heard, we don't have democracy. At least a helluva lot of people voted this time, even though I wish I could have voted for them.


Blogger Quadrophene said...

I had to build a blog to comment on this, but all arguments should be directed through the usual channels, because I will never know of them otherwise.

I disagree with your comparisn(probably misspelled, but that's where hooked on phonics gets you-they don't prepare you for doozies like "aesthetic") of the term "democracy" to the most colorful word in the american language next to "fuck". I find that "democrat" is far closer to the mark, and most liberals will feel insulted should their ideals be summed up that way at a rally; yet this is invariably the box most liberals punch at the ballot. I am a green party member, however, I feel that an election is like a horserace; you put your money on a winner and hope for the best. Democracy cannot co-exist alongside "capitalism" (another cliche) because you can't affect the federal infrastructure unless you've got a stake in it, and when you do, you go where the money is. As for a rebellion, please see Shay. An effective rebellion must be unannounced, unadvertised, unadmitted, and silent. Liberals will find it far more effective TO NOT VOTE than to cast their lot in for a candidate they don't entirely support. You wouldn't spend 20 grand on an automobile you didn't want would you? No, so why invest a year of dilligent research on four years of ennui? Dont make no sense. Black people are habitual absentees at the ballot box, as they are in the Gallup polls, and from the highest rungs of the corporate ladder; their welfare is as far from the minds of policymakers as a floor is from the ceiling, because we are "hip"-we know that no matter who goes into the Oval office, it will be another white guy. There will still be french fries and soda. We will still be pulled over for having a Mercedes Benz and gold teeth. Despite the civil rights movement, we will still choose to sit near the rear of the bus because that's where it's cracking. We will still shout our business out in the middle of the street for everyone to hear. Democratic "african"-americans are like a vegetarian cow. The term doesn't apply to us, it never did. We will only matter when some politician or activist group is hungry. Americans have always known that money is all that matters, and the problem arises from either having too much or not enough. The political sphere is labyrinthine for a reason: to dissuade your average Jack from ever entering it in the first place. On the other hand, capitalism is pretty much the straight dope, every consumer understands how they can voice an opinion on the latest piece of meat that the 'man' tries to sell them-don't fucking buy it. And as for Barbara Boxer's 'dissent'-it is too little, too late; the Dems thought that they had a contender there in Jack Kerry and would no doubt have ratified those votes had their ringer won, but he got tossed(no surprise there) so now it's time for the ringside scuffle. This is nowhere near as scandalous as the Florida business, and indeed the reaction in other countries with regards to that affair was far more incendiary than anywhere else (By which I mean right here at home.) Most americans were unaware that GW's brudda wuz guvna, and that most of the "uncounted black vote" was actually cuban-Floridian Cubans having primarily elephantine policy leanings. (Actually that's bullshit-but what's a statement without a little rhetoric?)I wonder what is worse, having a president that we didn't actually elect, or having that same president invade/occupy a foreign country in an imperialist act of 'democratic' hubris? I would say the former, for it is materially responsible for the latter.
So why weren't we protesting on December 9, 2000? Why wait a whole year? Why not show the world what we thought of our clearly flawed system then? Why not have a bunch of protests, one for every day of the year that Bush is President, that the word democracy continues to be dragged through the mud? Why pay taxes to this administration? I don't understand. Maybe I'm missing something. But a revolution must be carried out every day with the same self-righteous zeal as a soldier facing the front lines of a foreign country. People must be prepared to sacrifice many things, their lives included. And they must be prepared to be forgotten if they fail, which is probably the biggest sacrifice of all. Americans are too soft to revolt. We have too much to lose. The same people that protest against the war in Iraq complain when the price of gas goes up. Parents in Indonesia carry off their dead childrens bodies; people in Cincinnati airport are complaining about their baggage being late. Personally, I think four more years of Bush is exactly what we need; you can't play the blues until you know what real pain is. At least at the end of his term we'll have a clear picture of what democracy ain't.

I feel the same way about "democracy" as I do about "nigger"; it's ridiculous to use it in a sentence, and it is impossible not to laugh at someone's attempt to take it seriously. Democracy doesn't make sense right now to many of us. But from a nigga's perspective, it was always just a word, a word that over the years has had nothing to do with us. For us, voting has always been like playing the lottery, so we aint surprised if we lose. Even when we win, as it turns out.
And when when someone decides not to vote because it's raining, I think the message is pretty clear.

Katyalaia's nebulous rhetorical storm can be found floating around the vicinity of the BrainWash sector. Drop it like it's hot.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hi, abolishing the electoral college poses a different problem: the larger/more-populated states would always dwarf the voices of the smaller/less-populated ones. If instead we adjusted the electoral college structure so that each state's electoral votes were distributed proportionally, instead of all of them going to the winning party, the system might be a whole lot better...

2:38 PM  
Blogger mpho said...

In response to Quadrophene:

For the most part, I agree with your comments. In fact, I have to because they complement the sentiments of my original posting, even to the extent that while you start out disagreeing with the comparison of "democracy" and "nigger," you work yourself into an agreement with the comparison--and I'm with you all the way. Except for one thing. You believe that Boxer's show was "too little, too late," while in my mind, it's "better late, than never."

The irony is that it was exactly my frustration with the Democratic Party's chronic "too little, too late" modus operandi that caused me to re-register as a Green after Kerry lost. You say that elections are like horse races. Well, I don't just wanna place my bet and hope for the best. I want to have some input on the horse's training, and let's face it, most reg'lar folks ain't got enough bling bling to impact anything going on in the GOP or the party of the mule. (Along the same lines, the Green Party doesn't have enough bling bling to compete on federal level yet).

I could go on about the Green Party, which true to anything, is not without its flaws. But the bigger point I want to make is that I'm all for anybody having some backbone these days, and I think Boxer's on a roll right now.

Boxer Challenges Rice's Iraq Statements. [Condoleezza Rice, former Stanford provost, is quoted during her confirmation hearing as nominee for secretary of state.] (SJ Mercury News, Wed, 1/19/05)

Who know what's gotten up her bonnet, but I like it!

1:03 PM  
Blogger mpho said...

In response to Chris:

Point well taken. However, I don't feel that "abolishing" the Electoral College excludes the notion of reconfiguring it. I simply meant that the current incarnation has not served the nation particularly well, even prior to the past two elections.

1:08 PM  

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