Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tariq Nasheed's Don't Vote Campaign Equals Black Voter Suppression

Ahead of the South Carolina primaries, author and film maker Tariq Nasheed wrote an article entitled Why Black People Should Not Vote In The 2016 Presidential Election. The article promotes an anti-voting campaign called #Don'tVote. His article is misguided, deeply flawed, problematic and irresponsible.

In his article, Nasheed asserts that "many Black Americans are disheartened by president Barack Obama's hateful neglect of issues plaguing the Black society." Nasheed claims that "this has caused many Black people to be disheartened by the election process in general."

President Obama has not "hatefully" neglected the black community. Obama promoted policies and took action that directly benefited the black community. For instance, he launched the Brother's Keeper Program, issued an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, passed the Fair Sentencing Act, defended the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, defended affirmative action in Fisher v. the University of Texas, re-energized the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, sued the discriminatory Ferguson Police Department and entered a consent decree with the Cleveland Police Department. Although one can argue that President Obama has not done enough to address the problems plaguing Black America, it is a gross exaggeration to accuse the President of "hateful neglect." Furthermore, Nasheed's analysis fails to consider Republican obstructionism which prevented Obama passing other potentially beneficial legislation like the Jobs Bill.

It is naive for anyone to expect one black man to miraculously solve America's 400 year-old race problem. Instead of waiting on Obama to walk on water, part the Red Sea and raise the dead, the African American community should have put greater pressure on the President. Rather than doing so, many public intellectuals like Michael Eric Dyson and activists like Reverend Al Sharpton sold out for access and proximity to power. As result, we are, at the very last, partially to blame for the President's failure adequately address lingering problems haunting Black America. Our failure to hold elected officials is not a sound basis for deciding not to vote. Instead of merely voting, we must present an agenda, demand support, vote for supportive candidates and hold them accountable.

Tariq Nasheed's second argument emphasizes that "Presidents selected by the Electoral College, not the popular vote." He further claims that participation in electoral process is imperative to prevent the people from rebelling against the power structure.

The mere existence of the Electoral College is not a legitimate reason not to vote. As everyone learns in middle school, the American people indirectly elect the President and Vice President. As noted in the Huffington Post article titled What is the Electoral College? How It Works and Why It Matters, for most states, the Presidential "candidate who wins the majority of votes in a state wins the state's electoral votes." The article notes that "electoral votes are assigned by proportional representation" in Nebraska and Maine. In other words, when we vote, we are "voting for our candidate's electors."

The electors pledge to vote for their parties' nominees. As stated in the Huffington Post article, "twenty-seven states have laws requiring electors to vote for their party's candidate if that candidate get a majority of the state's popular vote." In the other states, it is still "common practice for electors to vote for their party's nominee." As stated on U.S. Electoral College website, "more 99 percent of Electors have voted as pledged." Wikipedia states that "faithless electors have not changed the outcome of any presidential election to date." In sum, through the popular vote in each state, we indirectly elect the President and Vice President. The suggestion that our votes do not matter is just false. The Bush-Gore election of 2000 is a major reminder of how very important our votes are. Again, the existence of the Electoral College is not valid reason not to vote.

Nasheed's third argument against voting is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are two faces of the same coin. Essentially, he is implying that the parties are the same. To prove that Democratic Party is just as racist as the Republican Party, Nasheed cites examples of Democratic prosecutors failing to prosecute various police brutality cases. Rather than substantiating his fundamental argument that black should not vote, such examples illustrate how precious and valuable our vote actually is.

Clearly, one should not select a candidate based solely on his or her party affiliation. We must select candidates based on their positions on important issues. In many jurisdictions, prosecutors are elected by the voters. If the citizens voted for other prosecutors who were truly committed to eliminating police brutality, perhaps, there would be different outcomes in the Michael Brown and Tamir Rice cases. Perhaps, a different Chicago prosecutor would have promptly filed charges against the officer who allegedly killed LaQuan McDonald.

Contrary to Nasheed's simple analysis, the two major parties are not essentially the same. Although there are some similarities on some foreign policy issues, the parties have conflicting views on affirmative action, criminal justice reform, police brutality, immigration, abortion, taxes, social programs, Wall Street, voting rights, workers' rights, health care, campaign finance reform and other issues. The difference is further demonstrated by mere fact that Republican leaders and candidates, including Donald Trump, seek to have another staunch conservative justice fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. They want to appoint more judges and justices like Antonin Scalia, a deceased Supreme Court Justice who said that African Americans should go to "slower track" schools and that maybe the University of Texas should not attempt admit as many African Americans as possible. The Republican want to usurp President Obama's constitutional power and wait for the next President to appoint a new justice.

On the other hand, the Democrats want the President to exercise his constitutional power and appoint a progressive justice. Without doubt, just based on the power to appoint justices and judges, African Americans would be worst off with Trump or any other one of the Republican candidates in the White House. Such judges regularly decide cases that directly determine our constitutional and human rights.

Even if one does not support either major party, one should, at least, vote for a third party candidate. Buried at the end of his article in one sentence, Nasheed writes, "If Black people choose to vote, they should vote independent." That sentence contradicts and dismantles the feeble premise of his entire article.

Nasheed's final argument is that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders "have not committed to actually doing anything for Black people." Contrary to Nasheed's claim, a simple review of the candidates' websites reveals that both candidates have committed to actually doing things for black people. Sanders' website and Hillary Clinton's website outline their plans for addressing police brutality, voting rights, mass incarceration, racial profiling, education, economic disparities and environmental racism. Apparently, Nasheed failed to conduct any basic research before he wrote his article.

Next, Nasheed basically asserts that black people should not vote for Sanders because Sanders does not support reparations. Reparations is an important issue. We should pressure all candidates and political parties to support H.R. 40. However, upon further reflection, we cannot base our decision solely on that one issue. There is a myriad of other urgent issues, such as police brutality, poverty, unemployment, failing schools, mass incarceration and inner city violence, that must be addressed. Moreover, Nasheed rightfully criticizes the Clinton for policies that led to the black mass incarceration.  If we elected a more progressive President at the time, maybe there would no 1994 crime bill. That is yet another illustration of the importance of voting.

In conclusion, as previously explained, Nasheed's reasons for not voting are weak. His article is irresponsible and reckless. It is one thing to demand that politicians fight to earn our vote. It is quite another thing to support a ridiculous Don't Vote Campaign. When a group withdraws from the political process, the politicians have no incentive to address that group's interests.

The Don't Vote will not empower the black community. It will only empower Donald Trump and the rest of the rabid right wing opposition. Such a campaign promotes the voluntary suppression of the black vote. The extreme Right does not need to implement voter ID laws, eliminateof early voting or purge voters as long as we have misguided people like Tariq Nasheed encouraging gullible black people not to vote. His self-defeating campaign is a slap in the face of the black elders and ancestors who fought, bled and died for our right to vote. Instead of discouraging our people, we need to encourage them.  We must encourage voter education, voter registration and voter participation. There is too much at stake for us to sit on the sidelines waiting for some distant, elusive and imaginary rebellion to occur.


  1. I believe this article is very one-sided and here's why:

    If what you, and the government website say about the electoral college was true then Gore would have been the president.

    They use the college for those special moments where what the people want, isn't what has been pre planned and thus you have you have Bush in office. Facts are facts.

    Also, if any Black person is still talking democrat vs republican or liberal vs conservative in 2016 it means that you're political views need to mature.

    Malcolm told us long time ago that the "liberal" was much more dangerous than the so called conservative. One bites you with a smile, the other with a growl, but either way you still get bit.

    This is about white supremacy sir. Hillary Clinton and Trump have proven by their ACTIONS and associations to be suspected and or confirmed white supremacists.

    Trump with the KKK and Hillary with her "super predator" rant, friendship with David Byrd, and admitted pride in being a Goldwater Girl.

    Sanders isn't far behind, and refuses to support reparations while having no issue with Jews receiving them after Hitlers run.

    See where we're going with this?

    In order to get what you want you have to TAKE SOMETHING from a person or force them into a trade.

    That's what sitting out does. The student athletes in Missouri took a stand and forced the university to go their way because they took something they had of value away from their enemy.

    Right now ya'll insist on on giving up the only thing you have of value to these candidates, (your vote) for nothing, and wonder why they don't respect you.

    Why is it that Hillary comes around us doing the nae nae, but doesn't do that when she visits white churches? Because in her mind she's dealing with feeble minded children, and she's right.

    Bernie can look ya'll in the face and say I'm not gonna help you get shit that you're owed by this country and yall bow your heads and vote for him anyway. That's a sickness. That's weakness.

    You point to Bernie and Hillary's sites, but bro you're talking broad stroke programs to help minorities. We ain't no damn minority we're BLACK.

    Nothing is in these programs to stop black people from getting gentrified out of our neighborhoods.

    No specific funds for Black people are set aside. None.

    You gotta stop defending white supremacy and making excuses for why you don't have the discipline to ride it out.

    I'd rather ya'll just admit that you wanna be down and participate than to attack someone who is giving you real game on how to get value for value.

    This isn't much different than the mindset slaves had when someone tried to help them into a better situation and they fought against them...I guess it aint all good but at least massa feads us.

    1. I will respond to you later this evening. Thank you for your feedback.

    2. Sorry for the delay. Here is my response.

      "If what you, and the government website say about the electoral college was true then Gore would have been the president."

      Wrong. Electors are pledged to vote in accordance with the popular vote within EACH individual state, not the nationwide popular vote. Bush won the popular vote in Florida by a small number of votes. Gore's lawsuit for a recount failed. Thus, in accordance with the popular vote in Florida, the electors for Florida voted for Bush. The vote in Florida decided the election.

      "They use the college for those special moments where what the people want, isn't what has been pre planned and thus you have you have Bush in office. Facts are facts."

      That statement is completely unsubstantiated. You offer ZERO proof to back up that outlandish assertion.

      "You gotta stop defending white supremacy and making excuses for why you don't have the discipline to ride it out."

      More nonsense. If you were familiar with my blog and my YouTube channels, you would not make such a silly statement. I have devoted my entire adult life to fighting racism, white supremacy and inequality.

      "I'd rather ya'll just admit that you wanna be down and participate than to attack someone who is giving you real game on how to get value for value."

      Tariq is not giving anyone game. He is running game on sheeple like you. He is only empowering the white right wing extremists by encouraging gullible fools to voluntarily surrender their right to vote.

      By the way, Bernie Sanders' platform does specifically addresses black issues like police brutality, mass incarceration, poverty, wealth inequality, voting rights, environmental racism, etc. So please stop exaggerating and ignoring reality.

  2. I'm sorry you're just another Black person who doesn't understand Racial Politics, so you you just dont get it. You say that Obama started My Brother's , but that doesnt say anything about black people at all. They just had black men in the photo ops. Also this "White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans" Mean what exactly? What resourcesare going to black people as a whole, or in any number from this. Hell, the Voting Rights Act doesnt even exist anymore. You're saying the same feeble minded nonsense Blacks said in the 70's and in the 90's when they voted for Clinton-who destroyed what little was left of Black communities in the 90's.

    And when you say "Bernie Sanders' platform does specifically addresses black issues like police brutality, mass incarceration, poverty, wealth inequality, voting rights, environmental racism, etc. So please stop exaggerating and ignoring reality.

    No he doesnt. His plans on his own websites dont say anything about addressing specific issues for Black people.

    1. Something does not need be labeled "black" in order to be targeted towards and highly beneficial to black people. That is what you fail to understand.

    2. Thats the game that's been played on silly black people for the last 100 years.

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