As Black citizens, we may fear but must deal with several political realities

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Despite all of the noise one hears from the mainstream media, especially in light of the anti-democratic supporters of Donald Trump, there are a number of significant realities of which one should not lose sight. They need to be kept in mind and acted upon regardless of the words of the pundits or of the detractors. 

The negative possibilities of these realities we fear:

Countering racism, especially as it manifests itself in the suppression of the Black vote, continues to lag behind other major issues. Issues such as abortion rights, gender and sexual preference considerations, and gun violence seem to occupy much more of the attention, even of the Democratic Party. Black citizens are smart to join with progressives to advance democracy in the other areas. They, nevertheless, would be even smarter to put sufficient pressure on those other Democrats to cease allowing Black human and civil rights to be left behind. Fighting racism matters. One fear of the writer is that racism is so profitable to white Americans that they will never fight it with full vigor.

Many people rightly applaud the progress that is seemingly being made in Georgia, in New York, and by the Justice Department in closing in on the crimes and misdeeds of former President Donald Trump. The reality that must be kept in mind, however, is that after all is said and done, the Supreme Court can and may rise up and nullify whatever is done in the lower courts. Trump and his cohorts have worked diligently to mold the court to their own benefit, if not in their own image. They will be looking for a return of their invested efforts. Major decisions from the last court session indicate that the court will oblige them. We may fear, but must find effective ways to destroy Trump once and for all. 

The idea of eliminating the Senate filibuster or reforming the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, depends upon winning control of the Senate in the Fall elections. It is good to remain optimistic, but it takes the finances and the organizing work to gain control of the Senate. Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are key states in this campaign. That reality has to become a matter of priority in Black organizing, if democracy is to survive and expand. They need us and we need them.

 As the November congressional elections take place, a past reality that needs to change is the idea of voters focusing only on their local election. In reality, the U.S. Senate and House races, especially in the so-called swing states, are national elections in the sense that what does and does not get done for the entire country will be decided by those bodies. We can advance our own cause by helping decide who wins the elections in those areas. We, therefore, must be realistic enough to follow the races in those areas and to help like-minded candidates take their seats, to help us all.

 Many Black, Brown, and other marginalized citizens are often pessimistic and decide not to vote at all because of how they have seen their communities neglected or get treated unfairly. The reality is that progressive political leaders and organizers must find effective ways to convince these populations that democracy and their economic well-being depend upon their participation in the process. Just as an example, if that kind of thing occurred in the Mississippi Delta and among the growing number on Hispanic residents of the state, Mississippi could immediately become a blue state. The spell of the post-Reagan history just has to be broken.

For too long it has been a reality that many citizens pay far too little attention to the big issues and the day-to-day actions of the government. They generally pay little attention until election time. Of course, it is at that time that the major political lying takes place and the empty promises are made. By opening up to them, people set themselves up to be screwed again and again.

When one views the situation involving Black people in this country, it is easy to see that today not much attention is paid to political actions and political influence that are outside of electoral politics. Much of what has happened in Black American history, however, can be understood by studying the actions of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, Sojourner Truth, A. Philip Randolph, Ida B. Wells, and others as they worked outside the system of electoral politics. It is a reality, however, that more progress can often be made when there are people working effectively outside the system at the same time that there are fellow strugglers working within the system. Electoral politics are important, but are not the end-all and be-all for Black people in America.

The realities which are enumerated above are critically important in helping to preserve and advance democracy in America. They are, nevertheless, not the only realities to which attention should be devoted. As observers of the political scene, these are merely some of the things which give us pause and nurse the fears that there may be negative consequences due to the inattentiveness of too many citizens. 

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As Black citizens, we may fear but must deal with several political realities

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
September 5, 2022