Junious Ricardo Stanton
We are approaching an extremely important election on November 3, 2020. In many locales you will have the opportunity to vote for Presidential candidates, US Senators, Congresspersons, state senators, governors, attorney generals, judges, sheriffs, state and local legislators, school board members (and often school budgets) county officials and commissioners. This is an awesome responsibility. We should take full advantage of it.
Yes there are valid arguments about the wretchedness of the state of US politics and the mediocrity of many of the candidates, but there are very essential reasons we still should vote. By registering to vote and voting you are on the rolls and are eligible to serve on a jury. This is important because throughout the history of this country African-Americans were forbidden to serve on juries or in many cases even testify in court! We can argue whether the court system was originally created or intended to provide justice for Africans in America in the first place.
That was then, this is now. It took a protracted struggle to change this situation. We cannot sleep on this. We are living during a time we cannot afford to abdicate our social and political responsibilities. We need to put ourselves in a position to participate and have input into the system.
By registering and voting we become potential jurors. Many prosecutors routinely strike Blacks from jury pools. This is all the more reason we need to have access to the system. In civil trials, tort cases, lawsuits and disputes we at least want to have the opportunity to have someone who looks like us, who has had similar experiences in the jury pool whether the case is criminal or civil. Better yet if we have a judge, a hearing master or arbitrator who looks like us we can have more confidence the process is fair. This can only happen if we register and vote.
A politician once said all politics is local. It is critical we vote for local candidates and local issues. Offices like Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, council, treasurer, school board and commissioners impact our day to day living. Their platforms and policies will have a major impact on the quality of life in your town and many facets of our personal lives.
Yes money plays a huge role in politics today and those with money certainly do exert an undo influence on the government; nonetheless we still have to vote in the local elections to get more of our people involved and elected to local offices. By voting and participating in the process we let politicians know what we want and the direction we want to see our communities move towards.
I know US politics are far from ideal and often disheartening, nevertheless we have a responsibility to push and work to reform and transform the system so it works for the greatest number of citizens. We have to accept what is, then work to transform the system through our input.
Remember through our input during the Reconstruction period, public education spread throughout the South benefiting and uplifting Blacks and whites on levels never seen before. It was Black involvement and engagement that made the difference, which is why the deposed Southern planters and financial oligarchs connived and conspired to take it away and return to pre-Civil War status.
We have an obligation to ourselves, our ancestors and our progeny to make things better. If we don’t who will? In many ways, our schools are just as unequal today as they were pre-Brown v Topeka Board of Education. If we don’t make this an critical issue who will?
The political process requires committed involvement and engagement. Voting is not enough, we have to be informed about the issues, we have to develop solutions and the ways and means to resolve the challenges and make things better. We cannot sit back, passively waiting for our elected officials to do it by themselves. They need our input, suggestions and being held accountable for their actions or inaction. This can only happen if we get involved and engaged.
Years ago I served on the planning board and later the council in the town where I live, rarely did citizens attend the meetings unless there was a problem, a controversial issue or rumor. I suspect this is the norm in most places. The government we get is up to us, especially on the local level. We can do better. Is there a solution? Yes, participate. Get up, get out and vote!