5 Reasons Why I’m Rooting For Alvin Greene, and Why You Should Too

5 Reasons Why I’m Rooting For Alvin Greene, and Why You Should Too

by Bakari Kitwana

Since the news broke that Alvin Greene won the South Carolina Democratic Party Primary Election for US Senate, countless media and political elites, have filled several rounds of the news cycle looking down their noses at the unlikely winner. But more important than questioning where he got the $10,400 filing fee and feigning outrage in response to the obscenity charge, those who claim to love democracy should be asking this: “why are freedom-loving political insiders asking Greene to step aside?”

The same folks leading the charge against Greene, in part suggesting that he’s not smart enough to have really won, are the same public servants unable to protect us from banks smart enough to rip us off, but too dumb to fail, and oversized multinational corporations smart enough to drill, but clueless about how to stop the greatest oil spill in American history.

So until said elected officials have figured out a solution to these pressing issues, alongside the unemployment crisis, the budget crises, and recurring voting irregularities in national elections that nurture a climate for more of the same, I’m rooting for Alvin Greene.

Here are five reasons why:

First, if Alvin Greene is the legitimate winner, and I think politicians should find that out with a fair investigation before asking him to step aside (as Congressman James Clyburn and Democratic Party State leader Carol Fowler have done), his win reinforces the notion that grassroots everyday people can still win elections in America–that the country, imagine this, still actually belongs to the people. Political elites reveal how far removed they are from this idea when central to their criticism of Greene is the notion that Senate primary wins are impossible without big bucks and establishment support.

I’m also rooting for Alvin Greene because he’s an underdog, the quintessential outsider, so much so, his own party claims they never heard of him. That plus the fact that any non-millionaire deserves our support when he proves he can ruffle the feathers of the mainstream political establishment–those same politicians who get sent to Washington to represent the interest of the people back at home, but fail to support the majority will on pressing issues of the day.

Third, Green deserves our support because he is a candidate who went for broke and did the unthinkable: he put his money where his mouth is. If indeed his filing fee was his own money–which is as plausible to me as his win–then it’s a compelling story about the will of everyday people in search of democracy. This is the type of inspirational narrative all Americans should be embracing–not imaginary populous movements that run politically connected candidates (Rand Paul are u listening?) and pass them off as a revolution.

Alvin Greene

Greene wants to do something to save the country sans name-calling, racial slurs or spitting on politicians he disagrees with. Instead, the 32-year-old college grad truly believes in public service–if his military record is any indication.

Which leads me to my final two points: Greene’s a military veteran and a post baby-boomer, two groups underrepresented in the Senate. Sure, Washington insiders spend a lot of time giving lip service to the troops when it’s politically expedient. However, when a 13-year military veteran runs for office, these “support the troops” cheerleaders are focused on discrediting him.

According to the Department of Defense, over 75 percent of the armed forces is comprised of Americans under 30 years old. Likewise, young voters 18-29 years old in the last three national elections have been steadily increasing their engagement. It’s time their numbers are more significantly represented in Washington.

It may be revealed in the days ahead that Alvin Greene’s win was no win at all. If so, the culprit will likely be something far more plausible than a “Republican plant.” Although an electronic voting machine glitch, diabolical voting machine tampering, or massive crossover voting lead my list, I’m hoping that won’t be the case.

But whether Alvin Greene is manufactured, an accident or for real, those crying foul should see his entry on the political scene as an opportunity to re-evaluate their commitment to the nation’s ideals–rather than to continue to dismantle them.

Bakari Kitwana is senior media fellow at the Harvard Law based think tankĀ The Jamestown Project and the author of the forthcoming Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era (Third World Press, 2010).

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Will The Youth Vote Trump Tea Party In Midterm Elections?

by Bakari Kitwana

One of the most important unasked questions this midterm election year is this: “Will the youth vote be a factor in 2010?” Given the actual impact of the youth vote in 2008, it’s a far more important question than the ones daily raised by the media manufactured so-called Tea Party Movement–despite the latter’s success at striking fear in the hearts of incumbents.

The Tea Party murmuring is hardly a movement. It has not a single political victory to speak of. Not so easy to dismiss are young voters who two years ago turned out in record numbers to vote in the presidential election. Two-thirds of the 23 million voters 18-29 who voted for president in 2008, voted for Barack Obama.

“The election of Barack Obama was a major electoral politics victory for the youth vote,” says Angela Woodson who co-chaired the 2004 National Hip-Hop Political Convention, which brought together 4000 young voters from across the US. “But it doesn’t help the president to move their agenda if he isn’t backed by a strong legislative body with the same vision.”

The primary races unfolding this spring and summer (Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina had theirs this week) will lay the groundwork for important midterm elections this November. Both will determine if President Barack Obama can move forward effectively with his change agenda or if young voters will see common sense policies that they voted for in 2008 erupt into ugly, year-long knock down, drag out debates–the ways healthcare and economic reform have.

Over the last year and a half, young voters have for the most part remained on the sidelines of mainstream political debates. And a Gallup poll last week found that young voters are less enthusiastic about voting in midterm elections than older voters.

Is the youth vote simply elated by what it achieved in 2008 or exhausted from the effort?

Biko Baker

Rob Biko Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters Education Fund, an organization that has been mobilizing young voters since 2003 says it’s neither.

“Community institutions and capacity have been weakened by the economy, says Baker. But I don’t think that youth have been quiet. The mainstream media just isn’t focusing on their activism.”

When the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident pushed dating violence into the media spotlight early last year, young voters missed an opportunity to translate their newly won political leverage into much needed dating violence reform. Young voters were mostly silent on the healthcare debate. They were even quieter on student loan reform. Both were signed into law despite lackluster support from the youth voting bloc.

However, Baker points to other issues where youth have taken the lead, such as activism around immigration (in Arizona) and police brutality (Oscar Grant in Oakland).

“Young people are engaged in these issues and extremely present in on-line advocacy,” says Biko, pointing to a recent survey that found that African Americans were more likely to be on Twitter. “But despite their sophistication, we need to identify a tangible agenda around which to heighten that engagement.”

Already this year, the country has witnessed the white backlash against Obama under the auspices of a Tea Party Movement, the rising conservative state’s rights agenda in the form of Arizona immigrant laws and Texas textbook reform, and the even more extreme antigovernment militias threatening violence to thwart an inevitably more inclusive America. With important congressional, senate and governor races approaching, all three may be tangible catalysts for youth electoral politics engagement.

Given the significant number of independent voters in their ranks (42 percent of college students and 35 percent of African Americans under 30 are independent), such a turning point will require young voters to rethink their independent status in the primary in order to assure the most viable candidates are on the ballot on November 2.

Young voters need to understand that the primary structure was created for the two-party system,” says Woodson, the former director of Outreach for Faith-based and Community Initiatives for the Ohio governor’s office, who now heads the consulting firm Gelic Group. “In order to use the same aggressiveness for midterm elections that they did during the presidential race, the youth vote has to learn how to play the independent game and switch parties when it makes sense.”

Such thinking is not unprecedented. During the 2008 Democratic Primary Election, Republicans crossed over and voted for the Democrat they believed to be the easier opponent for their Republican contender, then switched back to “Republican” for the general election. It made concrete political sense and is well within the rules.

The question is, will young voters abandon their fierce independent convictions in the short term to advance their long-term goals?

If they can do this, then they are closer to building a movement than so-called Tea Party supporters can imagine.

Bakari Kitwana is CEO of Rap Sessions, Editor at Large of NewsOne.com and author of the forthcoming Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era. (Third World Press, 2010)

original story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bakari-kitwana/will-the-youth-vote-trump_b_566478.html

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