Make no mistake, voting should be taken seriously and should be done without being begged or coaxed to participate. It is a right that was not always available for women and African Americans in this country. We, as African Americans, owe it to those Black and Whites activists who fought side by side diligently and courageously for the right for all United States citizens to be given the opportunity to exercise that valuable and important right to engage in the American process called voting.
The cost for African Americans to vote came at a price, which included many losing their jobs or being verbally and physically accosted. Some even were killed or murdered. One must understand that voting equalizes the playing field offering each voter a say so or a stake in decisions that affect their lives.
Whether you are happy with the outcome or not, your vote could make a significant difference in the governing of your life. To not vote, believing your vote doesn’t count or cannot make a difference is only playing into the hands of esoteric often self serving groups, parties, or organizations with clandestine interests that are devoid of the common interests of the average hardworking citizen.
Good or bad, voting is the strongest weapon we have to combat the social, economical, and political ills that distance and divide us as a country. Without your input as a voter, you are surrendering to entities and forces that all too often cater to racism, White supremacy, corporate greed and to maintaining a status quo favoring the continuation of a dominating handful of wealthy families maintaining worldwide power and control.
One must understand that by not voting one is jeopardizing the future of our communities. The number one factor to be considered is the welfare of your children and grandchildren and future generations. You can help in making it possible that they will live in a country where there is equal distribution of wealth, equality, respect, and opportunities available for all—and an environment where the air, land and water are not leading to annihilation. You have a vote in deciding in what type of world or country we live. If you don’t vote, you are complicit in the outcome if it leads to our downfall as a country.
While some people only vote in presidential elections, it is equally important to vote in local elections affecting your immediate communities. Decisions made by local elected officials determine the overall operation, planning, and officiating of communities, cities or states. Electing qualified and committed representatives is paramount to the landscaping and operating of one’s city or state. Offering a blind eye to local or state elections is setting communities up for corruption, malfeasance and abuse by those who welcome uninformed and lackadaisical districts not demanding open meetings and transparency.
Do your community or district due diligence by making a concerted effort to investigate and study potential candidates. There are some flags to take into consideration when you consider those seeking your vote. Some have never come to neighborhood meetings or shown concern about pending issues concerning the neighborhood or district. Take note. You may also want to consider the position of potential candidates working in city, state, or private companies who may be seeking the job to secretly aid their ‘other entities’ for self-serving advantages. And it goes without saying, be cognizant of well-known organizations offering monies and support for specific candidates.
Communities, especially those with incumbents running, know if those candidates did a good or bad job. It will be reflected when they visit the polls. Those appearing on the most billboards in highly visible places might seem to have an advantage in winning simply because of high profile visibility. That can be very effective for candidates. But there is no substitute for going to public forums, asking questions, and deciphering whom you honestly feel is the most competent person to represent you and your community. And by all means, review the voting record of incumbents seeking re-election.
Sometimes people vote for relatives, friends, people they have been introduced to by their friends, people they know, or people’s faces they have seen on billboards or television. But there is no substitute for truly voting for the person you feel is the most qualified to serve your community, city, state or country.
The important thing is that you go out and vote and make a difference. You are not in a position to complain about anything if you don’t do your part. General elections for Nashville are August 1. We are seeking to fill 41 Metro council seats as well as positions for mayor and vice-mayor.