Date: Feature Week of
CASH: THE CURRENCY OF ELECTIONS
Breaking Blacks Off A Piece
By overlooking the value money has in American politics, blacks have allowed themselves to be put in the position of voting between two candidates who’ve never promised them anything, except, perhaps, a few offers of a few positions to a few black politicians. Too often, these black political appointees adhere to established Establishment practices at the expense of black community interests. In office, they reward campaign contributors in legislative laws and process, but promote no issues to change the status quo of the black masses.
At the end of slavery, Booker T. Washington cautioned that without economic underpinnings the pursuit for voter empowerment would prove fruitless for blacks. But, the masses of blacks dismissed Washington then, and have ever since, sought their liberation through the voting process. There has been some progress; the 1944 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Allwright, a precursor to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and from the 1940s, legal and local activists, such as Thurgood Marshall, have helped African Americans get the right to vote and to have that vote count.
Black political activism foreshadowed the civil rights movement. As early as the 1940s, African Americans - from professionals to laborers – struggled against political disfranchisement. White supremacist politics brought communities of black people together, united in belief of their right to vote. Now, having won political rights, the question is: Can’t more bacon be brought home into more of our houses?
From pulpits to urban radio stations, voices are spouting words of old; “the answer for America’s underserved is to get involved and vote”. They say blacks should vote in order to “Make your voices heard”. But, the reality of today’s American politics is people’s pocketbooks. Pocketbooks, not votes, determine political representation; and unless black voices are amplified with cash, basically, we remain simple cattle counts for the Establishment’s politicians.
Blacks need to be more involved with our votes having clout. In the 2004 elections, every civil rights group and activist is focusing on disparities in voting technology and other practices, overlooking the flaw that has overshadowed American politics from the start: the dominant role wealth plays determining electoral outcomes.
Establishment candidates’ fundraising prospects are more important than their policies or credentials. Candidates can’t get votes without money, the ones that raise the most cash wins. Cash is the currency of elections; candidates need it to pay for television, newspaper and radio ads, posters and billboards, promotional material, and transportation. So, where do candidates troll for money? They go to where it is concentrated: in largely white, wealthy neighborhoods. Because the established system implicitly relies on an elite group of wealthy white donors, its priority issues aren’t about breaking blacks off a piece.
Over 90 percent of large contributors to federal campaigns are whites promoting their own issues. Nine of every 10 donations over $200 to federal campaigns come from majority white ZIP codes; and one of every two dollars in campaign donations comes from people in wealthy neighborhoods whose agendas do not include “breaking blacks off”.
After November 2nd, blacks’ pursuit of voter empowerment will have been proven useless, unless they find politicians willing to bring bacon home to us. Whether you cast your vote for Bush or Kerry; remember: if you weren’t one of the contributors toward the billions dollars they raised in the campaign your chance of “representation” are less. Which ever is in the Oval Office next year, contributors like financier George Soros, $12.7 million, and insurance executive Peter B. Lewis’ $14 million will be welcome there. For sure, John Kerry will grant the Congressional Black Caucus a few more visits than has Bush; but in the main, isn’t it time the black masses, in addition to the CBC, get more from the government toward equity and parity. To be more than pawns in the political process, blacks have to practice politics of economic transformation. If we don’t consolidate an effective lobby agenda around politics that empower African Americans, we will continue being underserved in post-election activities at City Hall, the State House and Congress.
© 2000-2004 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com