This initiative is designed to encourage a greater percentage of African American males to participate in the electoral process at the local, state and national levels. The initiative also seeks to encourage potential voters to become more sophisticated in their approach to electoral politics.
BE AN INDEPENDENT THINKER
Malcolm X warned us that if we were not careful our enemies will have us “walking east when we think we’re walking west.” He said “they’ll have us loving our enemies and hating our friends.” To be an independent thinker is to think critically/analytically. Becoming an independent thinker demands the individual to routinely challenge information that is presented so that one’s conclusion is based on the methodical interpretation of the facts. Utilizing this analytical process makes one far less susceptible to being duped by a candidate for political office or the information disseminated by the corporate owned electronic and print media.
ALL THAT GLITTERS ISN’T GOLD
Simply because a candidate has name recognition; or has been an elected official for a significant period of time; or has experienced success in the field of business or entertainment; or is acceptable to the mainstream (i.e. corporate owned) media or the mainstream electorate doesn’t mean he/she has earned the right to represent you or continue representing you. All candidates regardless of their length of service or their popularity must be thoroughly and properly vetted for the office he/she seeks.
KNOW THE RULES OF THE “GAME”
Can you vote in the Democratic or Republican primary election if you are registered as an independent voter? Can a convicted felon vote in your state? Can you “write-in” a person’s name if he/she is not on the ballot in a given election? What are the rules governing the absentee ballot process in your state? What are the rules governing those who wish to change their party affiliation? Do you live in a so-called swing/battleground state? A sophisticated voter knows the answers to these questions and many more. Learn the rules of the political process in your state. Laws vary from state to state. Knowing the rules gives one a unique advantage as a voter.
KNOW THE EXISTING POWER STRUCTURE
Do you know the names of your political representatives at the local, state and national levels? Do you know what their duties are? Do you know the power of their office and how it impacts your community? Do you know the committee(s) they sit on? Do you know if they hold leadership positions in their respective role? The power structure is not as complex as one might think. It is critical for voters to know as much about the political process as one may know about his/her favorite T.V. show or sporting event. Not knowing only diminishes the power of YOU the voter and increases the power elected officials have over an unsuspecting public.
STUDY EACH CANDIDATE’S TRACK RECORD
Every candidate has a track record. Your job is to find out what that record is as it pertains his/her character, experience, accomplishments, allies, voting record (assuming one exist), etc. What issues has he/she supported? Who has he/she supported in the past? Who is putting money into his/her campaign? Who doesn’t support him/her? And why? Does he/she go along to get along? Has he/she written opinion pieces? Does he/she make promises that are routinely broken? Study the record and political history of all candidates who seek your support for political office.
BEWARE OF “PROFESSIONAL” POLITICAL HACKS
Political “guns” for hire are part of most elections. Such individuals are “political” mercenaries hired to help a particular candidate or party win a given election. Some operatives are quite clever and difficult to detect. Many do not attempt to hide their role. Many operate as grassroots organizers (i.e. neighborhood campaign workers). Some operate as bloggers. A few even operate as political spies. Professional political hacks are not to be trusted because their loyalty is motivated by financial consideration in the form of actual monetary payment or political patronage to be paid in the event their candidate wins. Professional political hacks are not genuinely concerned about the impact of a candidate’s positions on a given electorate and therefore they should be treated accordingly.
DON’T BE CONSUMED BY IDENTITY POLITICS
While “identity” politics will likely remain a feature in American politics for the foreseeable future, one must be aware of the dangers of such politics. To put it simply, while it is tempting for voters to vote for a candidate based on a shared ethnicity, religion, gender, history, etc. one should not forgo these RULES when deciding on a candidate to support. Recent American political history should remind us that embracing IDENTITY POLITICS can have disastrous results.
BEWARE OF CANDIDATES WITH “GIFT OF GAB”
A sophisticated voter is not easily seduced by words. That is because a sophisticated voter has done his/her homework as it pertains to a given candidate and/or political process. This allows the sophisticated voter to hear the message of the speaker/politician and intelligently separate the theatrics from the critical and important elements (assuming there are any). In the end the sophisticated voter knows whether the candidate is the “real deal” or a political hustler out to score points and secure undeserving votes.
BEWARE OF THE EXISTING POLITICAL STRUCTURE
The American political process, specifically at the national level, is not designed to solve the needs of a vast number of American citizens, particularly the poor. One can even argue America’s political structure doesn’t do an adequate job addressing the plight of many in the middle class, students, workers, etc. In reality, America’s political structure is uniquely designed to serve the needs of the rich (i.e. Wall Street) and the powerful corporate interest that run this country. While it is prudent for one to exercise his/her right to vote at every level (i.e. local, state and national) and in every election it is imprudent to expect the existing national political structure/process to respond favorably to the needs and aspirations of the poor, communities of color, students and workers.
BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THE PROCESS
One must make it his/her business to participate regularly in the electoral process. If one chooses to abstain from a given election then one is basically allowing others to determine the outcome of that election for him/her.
THE MORE YOU KNOW
Click here to find the laws governing voting rights for CONVICTED FELONS in your state.
Click here to find information on your respective local government.
Click here to find the governor of your state and elected officials in your respective state legislature.
Click here to find information on the judicial branch in your respective state.
Click here to find the congressional representatives and U.S. Senators from your respective state.
Click here to see the organizational chart of the United States government.
Click here to find information on the executive branch of the United States government.
Click here to find information on the judicial branch of the United States government.
Click here to learn more about the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.