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Nov. 4 Elections - A Day Of Opportunity
10/29/2014 4:18:01 PM

By Barney Blakeney

This time next week the Nov. 4 general elections will be over. I’m thinking not a lot will have changed. That’s a disappointing thought.

I haven’t voted yet. Sometimes I vote early, my work schedule on elections days is busy. Burt the past few elections, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to take off a couple of hours to go vote. I expect that’ll be the case again this election. But I advise anyone who is eligible to cast absentee/early ballots to do so. Absentee voting in person avoids the long lines on election day and mailing in absentee ballots is even more convenient.

You don’t have to leave home.

It’s amazing how easy it is for Black folks to vote these days. During my parents’ time, there were so many more obstacles to voting. Black folks who could, had to read ridiculous stuff before they could cast their ballots.

Of course, a lot of Black folks couldn’t read very well, so they couldn’t vote at all. And I’ve heard about poll taxes for Black folks - they had to pay a tax to cast ballots. Imagine that? Poor Black folks who didn’t have much money to begin with having to pay to vote. I know that stopped a lot of Black voters.

Those barriers have been eliminated. Some new ones have been erected, but it’s still relatively easy for Black folks to vote. Still most of us don’t bother. I’ve heard estimates that as few as 30 percent of Black voters cast ballots in most elections. Mind you, white folks don’t voter either, but more of them cast ballots than Black folks.

Charleston County Board of Elections and Registration Executive Director Joseph Debney told me only about 65 percent of registered voters in the county cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election - that’s just over half the county’s registered voters! That was the election everyone was so hyped about whether Barack Obama would get a second term in office. Still only half the county’s registered voters cast ballots!

Two great wars were fought so we would have the right to vote in elections. The Revolutionary War, or the War of Independence, gave white folks the right to vote and the Civil War, or the War of Secession, gave Black folks the rights to vote. A lot of people sacrificed their lives. Today, by sitting out elections, neither White folks nor Black folks honor those brave dead who sacrificed everything.

I guess a lot of folks are discouraged from voting because ot the state of our government. They don’t realize not voting is what has created the present state of our government. When most people fail to vote, a few people decide who sets the policies, and those few people elect crooks who work in their own behalf. We’ve become victims of our own apathy. Okay, so the choices are not that great. But that’s our fault too.

When we fail to participate in the election process, the crooks who benefit get to perpetuate the system they’ve created. They get to groom a new crop of shysters who inherit their positions of power. Since the Civil Rights era ushered in opportunities for greater participation in that crooked system by Black folks, I’m noticing we also are grooming and bequeathing positions of power to a second generation of shysty Black power brokers.

Just like white folks who use and manipulate their constituents, Black folks are creating family dynasties. I’m talking about gangsters of the ilk of Al Capone and Frank Nitty who take over whole cities like Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich and North Charleston. And us good folks sit back and watch these unethical, unprincipled crooks use our public resources to enrich themselves and their families.

They stack the decks to maintain power. White folks create safe impregnable voting districts and Black folks go along with it because they also become insulated within similar safe impregnable voting districts. They pay off their minions with business opportunities and lesser positions of power while the rest of us get low wage jobs and bad nutrition.

I don’t get so mad at white folks who allow their politicians to reign over them. Most white folks enjoy a relatively good quality of life. But Black folks, we need to pay more attention. Our communities are destitute and crime-ridden. Our kids get inferior education and few opportunities for upward mobility. We must demand more from our elected officials.

We have the opportunity to do that with each election cycle. I think we should be voting out the nare-do-wells with every election cycle until we get those in office who serve our interests. In the meantime, we should be identifying and developing new leadership who will work to improve our quality of life in addition to their own. When we vote we must remember it ain’t about the party, it’s about the person.

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