by Dr Boyce Watkins
For quite a while now, I’ve been hesitant to endorse anyone in this upcoming presidential election. The options were too distasteful, too insulting, too pathetic for me to even consider it to be worthy of a serious conversation. I didn’t want to speak with representatives of either the Democratic or Republican candidate, for I would consider it to be a complete waste of time.
I also never felt the need to tell other people what to do. So, when people would ask me who I’m voting for, I wouldn’t answer the question. I simply encouraged black people to consider all of their options as they make this important decision.
Then, it hit me. I know how I would like to cast my vote. I would like to cast my vote by not voting at all.
You see, some people believe the old cliche that “if you don’t vote, you don’t count.” This is like saying that a woman who doesn’t choose a boyfriend is going to be ignored by every man she sees. That simply not true. The fact is that if you don’t vote, you’re effectively letting people know that you’re here and that you’re available for the most promising political suitor.
By not voting, the black community can send a message loud and clear that our political loyalty can be given to the candidate who serves us the best, and not the one who simply tells us that they are not as bad as the other person.
We’ve been extremely loyal to the Democratic Party for a very long time, but one would be hard pressed to find any evidence that our communities have benefited because of it. The Republican party’s stubborn commitment to arrogant old white men makes them a nearly impossible choice for those who care about the least of us.
So, there we sit, unable to get any support from the candidates who show up in our churches and eat barbecue chicken with the pastor so they can tell you horror stories about how scary Donald Trump is and how your ancestors died for you to have the right to vote.
Sorry people, but your ancestors died for you to have the RIGHT to vote, and not the obligation. They didn’t sacrifice so you could trade one form of oppression for another. Also, some might consider to be an insult to your ancestors for your votes to be wasted by throwing all of your political muscle behind politicians who are doing almost nothing for you. Voting for a do-nothing politician is like enabling a drug addicted relative by thinking that if you buy them enough crack, they will eventually kick the habit.
Remember: The future of the black community is not about the next election. It’s about the next 100 elections. Also, we can do far more by pooling together our dollars than by pooling our votes. One of my respected friends told me that he’s supporting Hillary Clinton because he feels that her policies would be better for black people.
“I’m not voting for Hillary, I’m voting for her policies,” he said.
Now, this is a logical and thoughtful thing to say and I respect it. However, I would also argue that the policies that most matter for the future of black America tend to NOT be the policies implemented by a white supremacist government. Instead, we are most affected by the policies that we implement toward OUR COMMUNITY AND EACH OTHER. So, if black people were to commit to a policy of keeping our dollars in our communities, educating our own children, developing/supporting our own media outlets, we could do more in a decade than that which has been done by the last 10 Democratic presidents combined.
By withholding our vote, we are able to better negotiate our position in the 2020 election and beyond. Both parties would be served full notice that black people are not to be taken for granted, and they will work overtime trying to figure out how they can earn our loyalty and trust once again.
As I wrote in a recent article on the topic, getting political power requires that you present what political scientists call a “credible exit threat” to let your candidate know that you have options. But we don’t present this threat and instead give our loyalty freely, easily and cheaply, like the woman who sleeps with any man who brings her a bag of Cheetos because she is convinced that no one else can ever possibly love her.
The fact is that we can love ourselves. We don’t have to give ourselves away to the lowest common denominators, and instead can build a community that teaches others that our respect, and our votes, must be earned and not taken for granted.
This is why I am not voting in this presidential election. In fact, there is nothing about this election that even resembles Democracy. All of our ancestors, black, white and otherwise, would be ashamed by what this country has become.