Politics

the two-party system fails black and brown voters

September 27, 2019
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On Wednesday, President (y’all know I only say it for journalistic reasons) Trump officially became the third commander-in-chief in the history of the United States to have an impeachment inquiry opened against him. Since his election, we have watched politics become a partisan shit show of the left versus the right, with everyone sticking to party lines for most major decisions. As we embark on another election cycle and vote in 2020, the pandering to Black and Brown voters has already begun, with one party hoping we show up to “save” the Republic, while the other party has essentially given up on ever seeing us as its base.

Back in January, I participated in video segment for VICE where a room of Black Democrats and Republicans debated points back and forth about the current state of politics. Although the conversation didn’t move the needle for anyone’s position, it displayed what I’ve always felt about politics in America. Unfortunately, our concerns are less about community and more about the individual accomplishment within the system that oppresses us. Some saw their personal accomplishments as the government doing its job; while others could see that the notion of Black success is the exception not the rule in America. Most Black and Brown communities are still failing in healthcare, education, economics, and every other metric of success across the board, in comparison to our white counterparts.

Often, elections are like choosing the lesser of two evils, or making the decision on who will make my life more comfortable with less obstacles. In the 2016 case of Hillary vs Trump, it wasn’t as if Hillary had never referred to Black men as “superpredators” or participated in voting for many anti-Black policies. Did it still make her better than Donald Trump, the overt bigoted racist who has turned out to be an overtly bigoted racist president? Absolutely. 

Many have stated that, for Black and Brown folks, voting is a “harm reduction” tool, which is also false. We have watched both parties come to power and find different ways of bringing harm to us. We have stood on the front lines and campaigned for those who looked like us, only to attain office and continue working for the anti-Black system that has always kept us as second-class citizens. Their interest is to serve the majority — many of them are unwilling to fight against that system once they’ve tasted some form of power. 

White folks get to vote on policies, while Black and Brown folks have to vote on survival. 

The Black vote (specifically Black women) has been the backbone of the Democratic Party since the late 1960’s. Democrats have counted on our vote coming out in abundance to counter the white male vote, and the pendulum-like swing of white women’s vote. The Black vote is often viewed as what is needed to continuously save the election, better yet save the country from itself. One of the first criticisms coming out of the 2016 election was that if Black voters showed up for Hillary like they did Obama, she would have won the election. 

I wanna be clear at the fallacy of putting the salvation of this country on the backs of the most oppressed. White folks survive no matter how the country votes. Whether the president is blue or red, white people will always have an opportunity for success and be supported by systems that will place their value over every Black and Brown person in this country. 

The two-party system in America is one that places politics over policy and people, while upholding racist, bigoted and anti-Black laws throughout all of government. Even when we have two terrible candidates running against each other, Black and Brown folks are EXPECTED to find solidarity among ourselves to pick the one that won’t be as harmful, or possibly easier to work with. We don’t get to just have our issues and concerns heard and then have actions taken. We are used as pawns, fed the crumbs of the “American Dream” where the symbolism of progress has been more important than actual structural change. 

In the 400th year of what has been marked as the beginning of the enslavement of African people in the land that would become America, we have seen our oppression transform but never truly go away. And as political parties have changed several times since 1776, one thing remains true. No matter how they sell it to us, at the end of the day when we get to that voting booth, we are likely not voting for people who have truly earned the right for us to give our vote to them.

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