I’m Just Sayin’: Vote your interest

by Marshawn Wolley, The Indianapolis Recorder

If you aren’t happy with your options this election cycle, create new ones because at the end of the day your interest is on the ballot.

A Pew Research Center poll found that registered voters who plan to vote are pretty certain about their choice.

According to the poll done in mid-August, 85% of Trump supporters and 84% of Biden supporters are certain to support their preferred candidate.

But as has been reported widely, there is an enthusiasm gap for the Democratic candidate with 66% of Trump supporters saying they strongly support the president versus only 46% of Biden supporters.

And while the study is less than a month old that is an eternity in politics.

For example, this poll does not capture the impact of the selection of the first Black woman to be a vice-presidential candidate for a major party.

This column isn’t for the people who have already decided who they are voting for this November.

This is for those of us who are struggling with voting due to frustration with electoral politics, party politics and who are susceptible to voter suppression efforts focused on making voters lose interest in showing up to the polls.

I’ve heard the arguments.

And while I’ve tried to maintain discipline, I’ve gotten into some Facebook battles here and there this election cycle too.

We tell citizens to do their research and when we do political parties should be embarrassed by what is found. The records of each candidate matters and not being as bad as the other person isn’t exactly an effective campaign slogan.

Obviously, 45 is not a viable option for the vast majority of the Black community — although somewhat surprisingly we should expect a significant number of Black men to support him.

Some of that is anti-Biden animus given his role in the development of the mass incarceration of Black men and other men of color.

Some of it is an odd appreciation of the fact that they know where Trump stands. He is racist, xenophobic and a misogynist — and these Black men suspect Biden of being at least some of these things but he hides it — which makes him fake.

Sen. Kamala Harris carries the burden of being Black and a woman. An examination of her record by some and even watching her performance in the senate explain why she had to be a top tier VP candidate and will likely be a strong presidential contender regardless of the outcome of this election.

For others, the mere fact that she is ambitious is a problem.

There are also those who take issue with aspects of her record.

There’s all kinds of reasons to not like candidates and there aren’t really rules as to why someone picks a candidate to vote for — we just hope people are voting for their interest.

Honestly, I’m not sure if Jesus Christ would survive an election cycle. After all he did associate with prostitutes and criminals. I also heard he trashed a church one time or something. He also was accused of trying to overthrow the government.

So, after we’ve done our research and have found out why we don’t like someone, what do we do next?

I’m very proud of the traditional media and social media activists and others who made Biden not having a Black agenda a thing. I don’t know the mechanics of how the Biden campaign arrived at the reality that he needed one but it happened.

Continuing to challenge candidates that aren’t responding to your needs, particularly at the federal level has revealed itself to be a workable strategy — even if it may be more cathartic than effective when done individually.

At the local level you have more access, though. You can visit an office. You can call. You can even attend campaign events or even fundraisers. Don’t underestimate the power of a critique that comes with a check. That’s what moneyed interests do all the time.

This is certainly a more expensive proposition than commenting on social media about your disdain for a candidate. It also means you have to really know what you want to see happen and be forward looking versus mad that either your candidate didn’t win or someone’s record isn’t perfect.

At the end of the day — as the late Bill Crawford use to remind us — you have to know your interest. Your interest is invariably on a ballot during any election cycle. You just have to decide what it is and let politicians be a tool for implementing your interest or addressing the concern you have versus the policy decision they made that you did not like.

I’m not going to tell you to vote because people died for the right to vote. I get how that sounds like emotional blackmail even though it is true.

I’m also not going to say you’re wrong to not actually hold people accountable for their records.

I am saying that your interest is on the ballot and you should show up to declare it.

Marshawn Wolley is a lecturer, commentator, business owner and civic entrepreneur. Contact him at marshawnwolley@gmail.com.

Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder


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