FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Whose Election Anyway?

When talking to a group of Black and Latino teenagers, it’s become clear that the 2016 election campaign seems more than a little strange to most of them. Just a year or so shy of being able to vote themselves, almost all of them admit being influenced and encouraged by Black Lives Matter and other movements for progressive social change. But they seem largely unmoved by the rivalry which is being termed by pundits “the most important election of our lifetime.” As a historian and teacher, I tried to look back at past electoral battles – including some very strange ones – to gain insights on the gaps we face today.

Almost one hundred years ago, an outsider who would make Bernie Sanders look like a typical Washington bureaucrat received almost one million votes – even though he ran his campaign from a prison cell, with buttons which read “For President: Convict No. 9653.” Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs was doing time because he was a staunch anti-militarist – much more than merely being in favor of gun control – and advocated resistance to the draft during World War I. Though hardly a threat to the mainstream parties, Debs’ 1920 campaign influenced many people (including women, whose nonviolent suffrage struggle prevailed and they voted across the entire country for the first time in US history).

Fifty years ago, a former convict – Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver – ran for President on a platform including immediate withdrawal from Vietnam and “Black liberation: Black Power to Black People!” Though Cleaver himself did an about-face, becoming a Reagan-supporting Republican by 1980, in 1968 he was as militant as they come – beating out civil rights icon comedian Dick Gregory as the nominee of the Peace and Freedom Party (PFP). The PFP ran many candidates in that turbulent year, including war resisting socialist David McReynolds, in an attempt to energize potential youthful voters concerned about racism and militarism. But they had hardly more influence than 1972 candidate Shirley Chisolm of Brooklyn, New York – the nation’s first African American congresswoman, first African American to run for President, and first woman at run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. No doubt both President Obama and Hillary Clinton owe Chisolm a great debt of gratitude.

There should be little surprise that, at a time of concern about policing and incarceration of Blacks and Latinos there is still disenfranchisement and distrust among many “people of color.” In the end, I believe much of the fear and anger we see amongst the electorate on all sides is based on a frustrated desire for fairness, for justice. As we ponder whom the upcoming election is really important for, let us remember that – whoever wins – there is much work to be done to heal past wounds and re-unite these United States.

More articles by:
September 26, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Time to Wake Up: the Neoliberal Order is Dying 
David J. Detmer
History Distorted: Sam Wineberg’s Critique of Howard Zinn
Robert Hunziker
An Unforeseen Climate Beast Awakens!
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Many More Women Are There?
Jörg Wiegratz
The Age of Fraud: the Link Between Capitalism and Profiteering by Deception
John Kendall Hawkins
Now There’s a Wall Between Us, Something There’s Been Lost…
William Kaufman
Brett Kavanaugh’s Wayward Penis: A New Twist
Michael Welton
A Wake-Up Call to the Canadian Left
Patrick Irelan
Brett Goes to School 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
All Wars Are Illegal, Let’s Act!
Dean Baker
Robots, China and the Failure of Economics Reporters
Matthew Johnson
Cancel Kavanaugh
Rohullah Naderi – Rustam Ali Seerat
The Option of Self-Defense for Hazaras
September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail