Our Presidential general elections are by nature undemocratic. The electoral college is by nature undemocratic and outdated. Our two-party system, which is a recent phenomenon in the history of the United States, is also highly undemocratic. I personally believe in a singular national popular vote, making Election day a federal holiday, and true proportional representation. The bottom line is that there is nothing radical or revolutionary about our November general elections within our current electoral system.
In a Presidential cycle radical things can happen. In 1972 Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman to run for President for a major political party. Her “Unbought & Unbossed” campaign was a radical act of defiance against the major party system and in some part against Black male dominated political spaces at the time. Watch Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed by Shola Lynch.
This year we watched a similar yet incomparable Presidential primary.
Bernie Sanders, a self-identified Democratic Socialist, ran for President of the United States against Hillary Clinton, a representative to so many of us of the status quo. Now that the primary is over and the general election is quickly approaching, this November I am voting for who I want my oppponent to be post November 9th and that person is Hillary Clinton.
This isn’t a new debate: in the late 1990s the anti-globilazation movement was calling capitalism into question, police brutality and the death of Amadou Diallo was bringing institutionalized racism to the forefront of our dialouge. Many on the left said “why vote for Gore when it will be a continuation of the Clinton administration's neoliberal agenda?”
What happened? Bush stole the election, September 11th happened and he fear-mongered us into a war that has now entered its 13th year. Let alone terrible policies like the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind, the latter which personally affected my life deeply. Those movements seemed to dwindle except ones in reaction to the wars abroad and at home with undocumented communities.
Lets just get real here: when people who aren’t plugged in and already have been attacked for centuries get another thing added against them, do you think that’s going to motivate them to be on the streets? We had eight years of playing defense where no real offensive gains could be made.
Flash forward to 2008: Obama gets elected, the banks get bailed out and the Democratic establishment and other institutions take a seat which was a big mistake. People got real comfy. Then the offense came in the form of DREAMers, Occupy Wall Street and many other movements that have pushed a President with neoliberal tendencies to do things that create more space for people to join our movements and expand what’s possible.
I’m not delirious and don’t think Hillary is going to change the way things are currently for me and my people. In fact she legally doesn’t have to do a thing she says when elected President. I know she will probably toe down the center line even more so then our current President. And no I will not mention her pinche orange faced opponent and his policies. He is giving a rise to white supremacy. He is the product of the Tea Party organizing against a Black President. He can not be my opponent post November 9th, he can not elect a Supreme Court justice, I will not allow him to win so that his ugly faction of that party wins statehouses across the country and gives more power to those who passed religious freedom bills.
Does this mean I am giving Hillary a pass? Nope, nah. I’m not living in some fantasy world where I can forget the policies she supported that destroyed the Black communtiy. Will I stop doing the work I’m doing in the struggle for Black liberation to help her get elected? Once again the answer is no. All I want is to know my opponent and hold her accountable every step of the way. In fact I can’t wait to turn all the way up. I repeat ALL. THE. WAY. UP. She owes us, she owes Black women, she owes Trans women, she owes LatinX communities for what she has done to our home countries. She owes Arab women, Muslim women and the list goes on and on. And I will get what I am owed.
Nelini Stamp -- Organizer and Agitator with a heart set on social and economic justice. Alumn of @RiseUpGeorgia and @DreamDefenders.