Election 2012: In the Final Days.. Go Hard or Go Home & Blame Yourself if You Lose

After more than two years of non-stop campaigning, scores of debates and billions of dollars spent we are coming down to final 10 days of Election 2012. The lay of the land is such that in the Presidential race two of the primary out of the overall 25 contenders Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are at virtual tie..

On the Senatorial tip, races that will determine whether or not the chambers are controlled by Republicans or still be in the hands of the Democrats, are still up in the air.

Unless there’s some real sea changes at work, congress is most likely going to remain in control by an extremist, obstructionist Tea Party mob.  Democrats have a good chance to gain 8-10 seats. 25 seats are needed to take control of the house which seems like a small numbers considering we have over 500 congress people, but during the 2010 mid-term elections those who won local and state-wide elections got to redraw Congressional district lines, resulting in a virtual lock for certain seats to a particular party for the next 10 years.

With all that being said, the question being raised is what will you do over the next 10 days? Many have been fond of talking passionately about how our ancestors shed blood and sacrificed greatly for us to have the right to vote..And that is true.. My question is;  Over the next 10 days is more sacrifice needed? Is it enough to simply show up to voting booth on November 6th 2012, and pat yourself on the back thinking your job is done? I say ‘No’.

More sacrifice is needed at a day and time, when voter suppression efforts are in full swing. At a day and time when we have  racist, extremist types pulling out all the stops to make sure a growing population of Black, Brown and under 30 folks are disenfranchised it is not enough for you to simply vote? Steps will have to be taken to make sure everyone who wants to vote can do so, and each vote cast is counted. Here’s a small sampling of whats going on..

In Arizona the home to harsh xenophobic anti-immigrant laws like SB1070, where ethnic studies in schools is forbidden and books extolling the virtues of Mexican-Americans are banned, Latino voters were sent out official pamphlets and ballots that put the wrong date for voting.. You can read about that HERE

In Florida which is considered a crucial swing state, thousands of fraudulent letters were sent out to voters in 28 counties stating they were no longer citizens and were being removed from the voter rolls. This was a very sophisticated, intimidating tactic that has now led to the FBI investigating.. You can read about that HERE

Voters in Black neighborhoods all over key swing states woke up 3 weeks ago to large Voter Suppression billboards put up by Clear Channel radio which is owned by Bain Capital, the investment banking company started by Mitt Romney.The billboards warned that anyone committing voter fraud would be fined and go to jail.

Now on the surface , that doesn’t sound too bad, except accompanying these billboards was a sinister ‘misinformation campaign‘ stating that someone trying to vote who had not paid their child support, had outstanding parking tickets or had not paid their cable or cell phone bill were in violation of the law and could be imprisoned for committing voter fraud. Needless to say the local Clear Channel stations in the area did very little to set the record straight.

Barbara Arwine

For folks who think what I’m saying is far-fetched and a gross exaggeration, I urge you to take some time and listen to this in-depth run down by Barbara R Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. You can peep it by clicking the link below to hear her presentation at a packed voter suppression town hall in Charlotte, NC

Earlier this week Clear Channel removed the billboards rather than reveal the name of the anonymous folks who sponsored them when they came under fire. Keep in mind, this is the same Clear Channel, which is home to many Hip Hop and R&B, urban formatted stations that didn’t bother to do any sort of voter registration drive, but saw fit to intimidate voters with these billboards. My question to those who talk about the sacrifices made by our ancestors, why are you still listening to Clear Channel knowing what they did? Here’s a list of Clear Channel /Bain Capital owned radio stations. Perhaps you’ll make sacrifices like our ancestors and boycott them.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Joining the ranks of those employing voter suppression tactics are the billionaire ultra-conservative Koch Brothers along with Tea Party financiers  Americans for Prosperity who formed a company called True to Vote. Their stated goal was to get one million Tea Party folks to become poll watchers and head on out to Black and Brown communities all over the country especially in battleground states and challenge people at the polls. So over the top is True the Votes operation that congressman Elijah Cummings launched an investigation. You can read about that HERE

The list of Voter Suppression tactics being deployed in the 2012 election is a long one. Many think that the game plan is to prevent Barack Obama from being re-elected. Yes and No..While its true that racists types don’t wanna see Obama back in office, the real goal of voter suppression folks is to flip over hundreds of local elections which far too many have not been paying attention to.

For example in California, we have on the ballot Proposition 37 which would require food companies to label all their foods. The main point it to make sure we aren’t unknowing consuming GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) It’s being vigorously opposed by mega food giants like Monsanto.

We have another bill, Proposition 32 which is backed by Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers and is being marketed as an Election Campaign Finance Reform bill, states that corporations and unions can’t give to political campaigns.. When you read the proverbial fine print, you discover that exceptions are made for corporate executives and large corporations like Big Oil and  Big Banks who can continue to give unlimited amounts of money as they’ve always done.If this bill passes, the only ones who will be restricted will be unions who these corporate interest oppose.

From the elimination of the death penalty to the requirement that the 1% pay more in taxes to penalties levied on companies that outsource jobs, all sorts of local bills are in play and will likely be won or lost by small margins.  Its around those races where Voter suppression tactics come into play and will have major impact. Deciding some of these razor-thin senate races is where voter suppression tactics will make hay.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott

The voter suppression efforts have gotten out of hand that the UN is sending in election monitors, much like what we do in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and every other place we say needs to be transparent with their ‘democracy’.  The US has moved in the realm of being one of those countries that now needs to be watched to make sure elections are carried out and not stolen.. As the world watches, one would think we would welcome the monitors, if for any reason to show  ‘how things should be properly done’. Instead, what we have is stark resistance.

Two days ago, Greg Abbott the Attorney General of Texas which is a state long known for Voter Suppression and ground zero for the True the Vote outfit, threatened to arrest UN election monitors.. You can read about that HERE

All this is being mentioned as we come down to the final 10 days of this contentious election season to ask what role will each of you play to bring about a desired outcome? As I noted earlier, it should be more than obvious, it’s gonna take more than you simply showing up at the polls. It’s gonna take more than arguing on line with fathom bots that have now sprouted up all over twitter and Facebook. It’s gonna take some good ole fashion leg work and phone banking.

The lay of the land is two-fold. One, is getting folks who are registered to actually show up and cast ballot. Hopefully those folks are informed. You can help aid in those efforts by making your own voter guide or share the ones already made by people you know and politically trust.. Take a look at www.theBallot.org 

second, is opposing voter suppression tactics.. You can help by raising awareness and making  sure yourself and all your friends have this Election Protection phone number 1-866-OUR-VOTE

For those who feel there’s a lot at stake around the election of the next president, because of possible Supreme Court Justice appointments, the war on women and proposed harsh austerity measures etc, the action is in so-called swing states.

If you live in states that are pretty much gonna be red or blue, you best head on over to a phone banking place and start making calls to those battleground areas encouraging folks to get out. Don’t talk about how blood was shed for us to vote and how Martin Luther King marched, but you’re not willing to put in minimal amount of work when there is so much at stake.

This weekend I have several friends who are bypassing Halloween festivities and headed over to neighboring Nevada to walk precincts in what is considered an important swing state where its burgeoning Latino population are being targeted with voter suppression tactics.

I have folks in New York who are making the trip to Ohio and Florida to put in work. Others are staying close to home and bringing attention to key propositions and ballot measures. All next week on our HKR Radio show we will be going through the local and statewide propositions.

I have one friend who took vacation time and flew out from DC to California to do work around Prop 37. Her fear is that the GMO bill will have nationwide implications if it doesn’t pass.

I’ve also seen folks drive up to Cali from Texas and Alabama to do work around Prop 34 which will end the death penalty in California. A win here will give them momentum to fashion similar bills in their respective states.

Some folks are having fun and showing up to large football games and here in the Bay Area or the World series to do canvassing and GOTV work while wearing their favorite teams jerseys or colors sporting the names of the candidates they wanna see win.. Will you consider doing the same? Will you go to some of these large collegiate and professional sports outing which bring up to 80k people and make your political desires known? I think you get the point.

If this is the ‘most important election of our lives’ as many have claimed, then over the next 10 days you cannot simply sit at home talking smack while others put in work. It’s clear that those who wish to undo every single civil right hard fought for by people of color, women, LGBTs and others who have long been marginalized, are going all out to smash down.. To them their way of life where they could act with impunity and not have to share seats at the table is at stake so their not messing around. What’s the response to the efforts of these angry xenophobic types who are literally clinging to shotguns and perverted oppressive notions of religion? Whats the response to the increased corporatization of  the election process?

As we come to the final 10 days of the 2012 election either you go hard or go home and blame yourself for a less than desired outcome.

Davey D

3 Hip Hop Jams Everyone Should Peep To Prime You for the 2012 Election

Loving this new song from Jasiri X out of Pittsburgh, Invincible of Detroit and Grammy award winner and former political candidate Rhymefest .

“Candidates For Sale” was inspired by growing corporate influence over politics, and the ridiculous amounts of money now needed to win public office. “Candidates For Sale” was produced by Da Ricanstrukta, and is the first single off Jasiri X’s new mixtape “Rappers On X” which will be out next week.

In a recent interview with Rhymefest, he explained talked about a conversation he had with a Congressman who is a good friend of his.. This particular congressman noted that in order to sit on certain committees and caucuses he has to raise upwards to 500k per year. In order to run for election he is having to get at minimum 600k.. He told Rhymefest in order for him to get tat money in short periods of time, he has to rely upon on corporations.

By the time the dust settles, he said he has very little policy votes or bills to push on behalf of his constituents. He is essentially beholden to those big corporations.Rhymefest went on to add that the challenge before most folks who vote is not so much voting, but leveraging the vote.. He said its time for folks to move this political game to another level and change the balance of power.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiN1Rhfdd6s

Another song to peep is Face the Vote.. FTV is an incredible song that addresses the issue of voter suppression… It’s part of a very large community reaction to the Voter Suppression (Voter ID) bill. The concept behind FTV is simple. The Twin Cities Hip Hop community has decided to put a face on the voters affected by the suppression bill. So with artist from all walks and backgrounds FTV formed and sprang into action.

We recently sat down with Toki Wright of the Rhymesayers collective and Nick Muhammad who was one of the main driving forces behind this project. They explained it was important to protect the voting process. Toki noted that Minnesota for years has had one of the strongest and most progressive voting process.

In 2008, record numbers of people came out. Percentage wise it was among the highest in the nation. The new attempts to pass restrictive voting laws is designed to turn back that tide of voters. He also noted that proponents state its to guard against election fraud, but in the past few years only 3-4 cases of fraud have turned up..

Nick added that our political involvement has to go beyond just voting. Its all about political awareness and being vigilant. political awareness will of course keep people up to speed on any and all developments including attempts to strip away voting rights..

Face The Vote includes
The Lioness, Malley, Danami, Toki Wright, Maria Isa, Kaleem, B Dot Croc, Nazeem, Muja, Felix, I Self Devine, Master Mind & Jamecia Bennett

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Bufna_JbNw

The last joint to check out is one from Bambu and Rocky Rivera called Rent Money..Definitely feeling the theme of this song which talks about poverty and the types of steps all of us will have to take to once and for all dead a situation where one out of seven are living below the poverty line..The song is especially on point when you consider both Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have focused on the Middle Class and have avoided talking about poverty.. props to Bam and Rocky for the jam.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkIKzsMiOhY

Below is the full interview where we talked about the 2012 election and what it means to the Hip Hop generation.. Our guest included author Bakari Kitwana, Ohio organizer Angela Woodson, Shamako Noble and Prof Tina Bell Wright of Hip Hop Congress, Rappers Rhymefest from Chicago and  Toki Wright of the Rhymesayers and Nick Muhammad of Face The Vote out of Minneapolis..  Click the link below

F– Tha System!.. Can You Be Radical & Revolutionary & Still Vote?

In recent weeks there’s been a lot of discussion around voting and whether or not its a futile exercise. Much of the apprehension comes from those who see the system as corrupt and the voting process hijack by unthinkable amounts of big corporate money which has made all those who get elected or appointed beholden to them vs the people.

Complicating this issue is seeing many who run for office play a political game which leads to them speaking ‘double talk‘, flat-out lying and over compromising on important issues. Some chalk it up and conclude, that ‘politics is a dirty business and those in the arena are simply doing what they gotta do‘. Others haven’t been so nonchalant and have been livid, especially if they see such actions taken at their expense. If they look on the ballot and see themselves at the short end of political policies by those vying for office, the conclusion is not to vote.

F– Tha System Don’t Vote!  F– Tha system don’t partake in a corrupt process! has been a rallying cry in more than a few circles..It’s more than just a Lupe Fiasco who has uttered this. I’ve heard it all throughout the Occupy Movement.. I’ve heard it amongst those who consider themselves radical or revolutionary-from dead prez to Rage Against the Machine to the Welfare Poets. I’ve heard it amongst those who are simply fed up and have lost all hope or have felt deeply betrayed. Many have concluded that the process is so corrupt and so contaminated that what we’re seeing is elaborate theater.. those gunning for office have already been selected..

Expressing disdain and  attempting to shame people into voting by telling stories of Fannie Lou Hammer and Martin Luther King and their sacrifices does very little to move the crowd especially when its clear that those doing the conjuring don’t adhere to many of the principles that those lauded individuals stood for.. If anything it’s likely to make folks more resolute in their position when they see the stark contradictions in ones rhetoric vs actions and that MLK and Fannie are being used as tools of convenience.

A few years ago during the historic Hip Hop Political Convention in Newark, New Jersey, longtime New York City Councilman  and former Black Panther Charles Barron addressed the convention and offered up some compelling words around being a revolutionary and voting. After his speech we sat down with him for an interview we he expounded upon his points..He talked at length about how and why it was critical we engage this system. The fact that we find it corrupt is even more of reason for those who are revolutionary to engage it.. It needs critical, principled people to intervene.  What Barron spoke on back in 2004 is good food for thought and gave some keen historical and political insight.. We wanted to share that with folks today..

Also since yesterday was National Voter registration Day we wanted to share with you a recent speech given at a Hip Hop Caucus Townhall Meeting around the issue of Voter Suppression.. The remarks by Barbara Arwine of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights need to be heard and acted upon..