Why Vote? by Paris the Black Panther of Hip Hop

If you live in California, today Monday (Oct 18 2010) will be your last day to register to vote. You can do that by going here.. http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm

For many, with a messed up economy, unmet expectations and seemingly out of touch and unresponsive politicians, this has been a pretty dismal year in terms of choices for some of the state’s major offices. For many of us who’ve been out of work or underemployed and have had to endure watching bailed out banks smashing hard, its real easy to say none of this matters. And on many levels maybe it doesn’t, until its your public assistant dollars, unemployment benefits or government job gets cut to the tune of 45 thousand. This is being pushed by gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman..

Maybe it doesn’t matter until we see more California jobs being sent overseas and with the full support of senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina who wants to give such companies bigger tax breaks.

Unfortunately, like it or not, someone will get into office and as cute as it sounds to say cliched things like there’s ‘it makes no difference’ who serves your community or state, there are stark differences, both immediate and long-term.

There’s a difference between the candidates running for mayor of Oakland and city council. There’s big differences on who will be District Attorney and who will be Attorney General. If you have loved ones impacted by one of the largest penal systems in the world, its best to check out who believes in rehabilitation programs and who doesn’t.  Its best to find out wants to fight the war on drugs with more police and who wants to go another direction.

There are huge differences in policies between Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown and Laura Wells..

There’s also a lot more folks on the ballot then the ones who can afford to buy expensive ads on TV.. You can check some of them out here http://smartvoter.org/2010/11/02/ca/state/state_executive.html

Don’t make the mistake folks made back in 2004 when Prop 66 was on the ballot that would’ve repealed 3 strikes and if passed would’ve let out thousands of non-violent prisoners. We had a lot of hipster types running around telling us not to vote and how the system was corrupt and blah blah blah.. So many of us we didn’t. We stayed home. The measure lost by a few thousand votes and loved ones remain incarcerated. More prison guards were hired , while less money was given to schools. It should’ve been a no-brainer to vote for that measure.

This year we have everything from Prop 19 to legalize weed which will have impact on the war on drugs here in Cali to Prop 20 which will decide who gets to redraw congressional district lines in our hood. Right now its in the hands of the citizens, but there are powerful forces pushing to make it go back in the hands of ‘politicians’ . Folks need to weigh in on this and other proposition some of which will decide how money from your community should be used.. You can brush up on the propositions here.. http://www.citizenvoice.org/elections_project/prop_19.html

In Oakland we now have instant run off voting. For all the folks who have complained about the system locking out third parties and all that, this should be a dream come true. You can now vote for several people for mayor. They could be democrat, republican, green party etc. If Ron Dellums was wack as mayor here’s your chance to to do something impactful.

Here in Cali we have early voting (it’s already started) so there’s time to research issues and check things out.

Peep this throwback article that Bay Area rapper Paris penned.. It gives good food for thought..

Davey D-

Why Vote?

By Paris, August 7, 2004


Like the child who cried “wolf!” too many times and was eaten when he really needed the help of people who had grown to ignore him, the media and Bush administration are faced with such massive lack of credibility issues that we now must adopt a contrarian stance when taking what they say into account, especially when it comes to terrorism.

From the degrading and deplorable Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison scandal, to the wag-the-dog-like U.S.-implemented and staged beheading of Nicholas Berg, to the recently expressed desire for war with Iran, it’s apparent that the Bush Administration is scrambling to create further diversion and feelings of fear and division to rally support behind its wicked and out-of-touch policies.

So what can we do? Well, aside from community outreach and living by example, one of the best solutions is voting. The trouble is, I’ve read a lot of articles and heard a lot of discussion lately from people in our communities openly questioning whether or not we have any business voting. We do.

The simple fact is, if you can’t offer a concrete, tangible alternative to us exercising our rights and becoming a part of shaping decisions that affect us, then you have no business being opposed to galvanizing young people and people of color as a unified political force at the polls. Besides, y’all ain’t ready for revolution. So before you go saying how I’m “buying into the system” think about what it is exactly that you would do differently – and then ask yourself why you don’t. Like I said – it’s only a part of the solution. The strategy we must adopt is one that employs all of the tools that we have at our disposal to progress. Voting is one of them.

Are we are too lazy or disillusioned with the process that we won’t exercise rights that people who came before us died for? Voting doesn’t cost anything, so we can’t say that we can’t afford it (even though elections are held on Tuesdays, during work hours for many). Of course, it’s easy to say “f**k voting,” spark up the weed and turn on 106 & Park, but at what cost? We’ve seen the results of not voting – an illegitimate impostor in the White House, rollback of Affirmative Action legislation, poorer economic conditions and lack of employment opportunities, reductions in budgets for education and social services and increased instances of violence and police brutality – so why not opt for change?

Now I know you might not feel either of the major presidential candidates, especially with our recent discovery that they’re related – many don’t. But voting is larger than just the presidential race. What about the economy? Record unemployment and underemployment? Out of control gas prices? Shitty and unequal education? Lack of affordable housing? Why give conservatives and the existing powers that be an easy way out by not participating? They vote, and have an often unified support base that stresses the importance of participation to maintain their quality of life, often embracing policies and supporting politicians that don’t represent our best interests. It’s important that we participate too.

If we aren’t effective and our voices don’t matter, than why do they feel the need to cheat? To steal elections and keep us from the polls illegally? To establish a conservative media network? To keep us feeling disillusioned and disenfranchised, that’s why. To keep us thinking that we don’t matter.

How many people have you heard say that they’re not political? Here’s a news flash for you: you don’t have any choice but to be political nowadays, because everything is politicized. Politics is now pop culture, so you’d better adjust and become aware of the way things really are and what you can do to change our condition.

Opposition to voting often comes from the same people who don’t see the value in a college degree. Why is that? By not having the necessary credentials we give other people an easy out when it comes to dealing with us. As a rule, use every tool, every angle and every resource you have available to you to get ahead. As a people, we don’t have the luxury of adopting a stance of non-participation in anything that can be potentially beneficial to us. For too long we’ve sat by and allowed others to dictate the terms and conditions of our lives in our own communities.

We constantly hear commentary from conservative pundits on the state of things – barking about why it’s not right to question our “leader” during wartime – and calling anyone voicing dissent “treasonous” (and getting wealthy in the process). Think Sean Hannity (of Fox News) represents the everyman (he makes an 8 million dollar annual salary)? Or Bill O’Reilly (6 million)? Think again. (Funny how they dis easy-to-pick-on rappers but never discuss the profanity and imagery on Fox’s own Nip Tuck, the racism of COPS, or the misogyny of The Swan – but that’s another article.) These people vote. And they rally others who feel the same as they do to vote too.

We hear them say how much worse life was under Hussein in Iraq, and how U.S. troops are fighting to protect our freedom. But WE WERE NEVER IN DANGER from Iraq…and U.S. troops are being used in the worst way. They are there only to protect the big business interests of Bush’s buddies in high places – they ARE NOT protecting our freedom. The fact that Bush just signed a $417.5 billion wartime defense bill with an addition $25 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan pretty much drives my point home.

The world is full of dictators, but, luckily for them, they don’t have oil. Sorry-ass Saddam and his weak country would still be among the living nations if they had not had oil. Also still alive would be over 900 American servicemen and women, tens of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of wounded-for-life people.

This is especially important to us because we’re the ones who die, and we’re the ones the military places a disproportionate amount of focus on recruiting as was evidenced in Michael Moore’s excellent movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, which I encourage everyone to go out and see.

And while we’re on the subject of Fahrenheit 9/11, let me say that there have only been 3 points raised by those in opposition to the movie, and they are that 1. Moore never mentioned Great Britain in the “Coalition of The Willing,” 2. that Iraq was misleadingly portrayed as a utopia before we decimated it, and 3., that Moore is racist because of his portrayal of the countries willing to stand by the U.S.

That’s it.


There are still no other valid arguments against the points raised in the movie (all of which, coincidentally, were detailed on Sonic Jihad and onwww.guerrillafunk.com 2 years ago). The rest is true and cannot be refuted, and Moore has even publicly considered offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can find a factual error, according to TIME magazine.

What it really boils down to now is that we are at a point in time where people simply believe in what makes them feel comfortable, even if the facts presented to them point to the contrary. If people know something is foul and needs to be set right, they agree that there needs to be regime change here. If, however, they are uneasy and in denial about the fact that the Bush Administration is full of @#%$, has lied to us, murdered people unjustly here and abroad for profit, reduced our civil liberties, is in bed with those we are supposed to be at war against, had a hand in facilitating the events of 9-11, and actively solicits young people of color to use for its war machine, then they tend to agree with the lies of the current White House occupants.

Only the evil or the misinformed are supporters of this administration, and they are the same people who don’t flinch when their conservative heroes are caught lying and give that standard bullshit “I take personal responsibility” speech. You know the one – the speech that’s designed to shut up detractors in a hurry (Tony Blair just gave it about WMDs) – as though saying it makes things A-OK.

Let’s all take our own form of personal responsibility and vote this November.

Register online here at http://www.guerrillafunk….eral_info/x_the_box.html, and stand up and be counted!

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

11 comments on “Why Vote? by Paris the Black Panther of Hip Hop

  1. I love Paris. But I think there are some things missing here. The act of voting alone or by itself is no more an organized conscious act than collectively not voting as a unified act of resistance. DuBois advocated that at the end of his life. I understand his point to be my own: people did not die for us to have the right to vote. This is a misreading of history. They died for the vote as an act on the way toward achieving power. We have no more power today than we did then. So simply calling for us to vote without an organized, specific agenda or without criteria, specific criteria to which we are planning to hold “our” candidates, is simply useless. For whom will we vote and why? And then what? Precisely what platforms are we holding people accountable to in order to get our vote? Why aren’t there more calls for alternative party development, or organized insurgent campaigns within existing parties? Where are the calls for participation in grassroots political organization or support for radical workers? Why is most of our focus on electoral politics? Voting was not the end that people fought for in the past. It was a means. I think we have moved too far from that fact to even see it any more.

  2. It isn’t that people don’t want to vote, it’s that they want a reason to vote, and the only real reason that leads to that result is when people feel that are invested in a society and have a stake in attempting to sculpt it.

    If you want to convince people to vote a good way would be to share personal stories as to how you made your millions and to share tangible repeatable techniques for people to apply to themselves,and in a way that leads by example and has tangible results without all the bullshit political sensationalism. If people see real world down-to-earth examples of success that they feel is truly attainable, they will participate. If not, they won’t.

    With all the opportunity at our dispose talking about voting is the icing on the cake , not the meal. Show the public how to make a meal for themselves and they’ll vote habitually.

    Until then, good luck telling the public what they “should” do.

  3. Jared i think what ur saying is right on some level but misleading in the most practical sense.. We have 30% unemployment in oakland right now.. Cali is over 10% and much higher in many neighborhoods.. One of the biggest employers is the State.. meg whitman has promised to gut 45 thousand jobs..
    Whats the plan of action if folks decide not to vote.. What are the immediate strategies? And we’re talking for the person that has lost their savings and now 45 and older..

    We have people talking about gutting pensions and getting rid of unions..coming out the box.. should people sit this out? Ive seen several of my neighbors get reduced to sleeping in cars over the past year and for all the activism we have out here there’s been no solutions for them..Some are sleeping in cars while we have city council people who are running for office advocating the city increase towing and fines.. Should we sit that out?

    We have folks saying gut unions but leave the police unions in tact and vice versa.. Those are clear choices.

    I dont think one needs to have a big meeting to decide what they need to see happen in the next few months. If ur uncle is working at the post office or the university and u have a candidate promising to get rid of ur job.. the choice is pretty clear.. Don’t vote for that person..

    Now some will say..vote practically-jerry brown or vote ideally homegirl from Green party.. One could sit out..but we see what thats gotten us..

    Here in oakland because of voting we have instant run offs.. this opens the door for 3rd party candidates to run for mayor.. Why would anyone wanna sit this out with 12 people running after all the crqziness we experienced with oscar grant? District Attorney and judge races are up.. why would we even be debating this with those things on the floor.?

    seems to me that anyone with an agenda has the opportunity to put that out as a slate of folks to vote for..Progressive, moderate, status quo, conservative.. I haven’t seen that yet..from 3rd party folks..Why not offer up a voting guide with links for people to become better educated…both here locally or nationally.Lots of places to put those things up..

    When Paris wrote this he was given folks an agenda.. he included a 12 page breakdown..If I’m correct I think he even did some stuff for Cynthia.. we gave that out on line an on the air..if it wasn’t the whole nine..it was a damn good first step..

    In 08 we sunk loot into races and got rid of crazy judges and a tyrannical sheriff.. That was real and tangible for the folks in those districts..If we waited around, we’d still be debating whether or not we should be voting with crazy sheriff still in office.

  4. Chapelle show, “I Know Black People” gameshow:

    “What can black people do to overcome?”


    *buzzer sound


  5. Why vote?

    End the “war” on black people drugs!
    Create an instant-runoff voting system.
    Stay registered.
    Make sure third parties get automatic spots on the ballot.
    Let the establishment candidates know how many votes it could’ve had.

  6. I agree LL, but leave it to others they rather we sit out.. I dont get it.. what happens when the nxt Gov decides to fire 45 thousand people?


    I see a big difference between sitting out an election and participating in an organized election boycott. One act is encouraged by the establishment while the other act is discouraged by the establishment. With that being said; state ballot measures are a great, democratic way of getting around the political theatrics of state politicians.

  8. “I agree LL, but leave it to others they rather we sit out.. I dont get it.. what happens when the nxt Gov decides to fire 45 thousand people?”

    Those 45 thousand people will be left to fend for themselves. That’s “what”.

    Building new institutions that run parallel to the old ones is what people – in my opinion – could be exploring and putting their time into. But even talking along those lines is completely diffused by a culture of dumb rappers and glen beck followers. Noam Chomsky use to talk about “Creating alternative institutions” but he’s spent a lifetime complaining about the world instead of actually entertaining what it means to truly “build” something useful.

  9. What is the point in bothering to vote for candidates in the U.S. anyway? Issues on the ballot I can understand taking the time to vote for or against for example if you live in California there’s a reason to vote for Proposition 19 if for nothing else to further expose the Obama administration as reactionary by its response to its passage. But for actual candidates? Total waste of time.

    After the Dems swept into power in Congress in the 2006 midterms on a platform of “Vote for us if you want to end the war in Iraq” and then refused to actually do anything to, you know, end the war in Iraq like cutting off funding for it by refusing to vote on supplementals that should have told anybody with common sense that they’ve been bamboozled. After Obama gets elected as a supposed “change agent” and despite a Dem majority Senate and House gives the American people a health care “reform” bill written by the big insurance companies and Big Pharma; after giving us a Wall Street “reform” bill written by Wall Street that does nothing to prevent their casino-like behavior; after getting a Nobel Peace Prize then immediately escalating the gas pipeline war in Afghanistan; after promising us a government of accountability then adamantly refusing to have his attorney general go after the war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, as apparantly accountability for torture, for the mainstreaming of police state measures with the Patriot Act and the starting of a war of aggression isn’t worthy of examining as he’s “moving forward, not looking backward”; as Obama has enshrined these police state measures and expanded upon them; and as Obama’s surrounded himself with an administration made up of ruling class pukes from the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg Group and A.I.P.A.C. what can a sensible, informed person conclude but that it is an exercise in futility to go out and vote? Why bother when all the wealthy ruling elite will allow us to vote for are obvious conservatives and thinly-disguised conservatives? That’s as undemocratic as Saddam Hussein’s elections but with somewhat more sophistication.

    Unless private money is taken completely out of political campaigns with each candidate instead getting an equal (but small) amount of public funding with campaigns lasting a couple months instead of a couple years the system will continue to be as artificial as professional wrestling. Candidates will continue to be nothing more than puppets of their wealthy corporate backers, answering to them instead of the average people of this country. Face it America: You don’t have a democracy. What you have is a dog & pony show every few years, designed to make you think you have a say in what kind of government governs you. It is painfully obvious that you don’t.

  10. Brutal what does any of this have to do with who sits on ur city council? school board? is the next DA in your town.. Nobody knows or cares about all those names u mentioned when they’re looking at their benefits being cut vs being extended.. or what type of person is willing to give minor transgression a pass vs going the whole nine.. The game is the game.. big money is gonna have its impact.. and unless we’re gonna be shooting people and having some sort of coup, changing the dynamics will require an informed vote on any number of issues..

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