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— Compilation: Stetson Kennedy papers / Georgia State University; New York Times

The graphic photo for this piece is an effigy of a lynched Black man with a poster on its chest reading, “This Ni--er Voted.” It was hung in 1940 by the KKK in Miami, Florida to frighten Blacks from voting.

And today, in 2018, instead of being too frightened by the KKK to vote, far too many Blacks are too apathetic or too shortsighted to vote. And the KKK, along with the racist Donald Trump-loving Republican Party, is very happy about that.

Next to that horrific image above is a photo of the title of a 2005 New York Times article regarding the “too little, too late” apology by the United States Senate for its failure to do anything about the 4,742 documented lynchings between 1882-1968 throughout the country, many of the victims being Blacks who registered to vote or Blacks who voted or Blacks who encouraged Blacks to register to vote or Blacks who encouraged Blacks to vote.

On June 13 of that year, the Senate- which consists of members elected by people who care enough to vote- issued a resolution officially telling the family members of lynching victims that it was sorry. But there were two major problems with that.

The first is it didn’t provide any reparations whatsoever.

The second is it wasn’t unanimous. Twenty Senators refused to co-sponsor it or even to sign their names on it. After widespread public outrage, that number was quickly reduced to eight Senators who continued to refuse. And- you guessed it- they were all Republicans.

Before I continue, I need to make something very clear: Although I am a registered Democrat (at least for the time being and have been throughout my entire adult life), I dislike the Democratic Party. And the only reason I am a Democrat is I despise the Republican Party. Allow me to explain.

Mao Tse Tung said “Politics is war without bloodshed and war is politics with bloodshed.” Accordingly, long before Donald Trump became president after the 2016 election, there’s been a political race war in America. But that war has dramatically intensified since he took office because he- after having been endorsed by former KKK leader David Duke- has publicly co-signed and actively promoted blatant racism like no other president since Woodrow Wilson who, in 1915, praised and screened the pro-KKK “Birth of a Nation” film inside the White House, making it the first motion picture ever shown inside that majestic building.

During wartime, soldiers must think and act strategically, not emotionally. I thought and acted strategically when I first registered to vote at age 18. I chose to be a Democrat (but will eventually switch and become an Independent) because I understood what Sun Tzu meant in The Art of War when he wrote, “Ponder and deliberate before you make a move....” and also wrote, “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he [or she] cannot fathom our real intent.”

As a young voter back then and a middle-aged voter now, I always thoroughly researched and therefore knew that Republicans Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump were clearly greater threats to Blacks (as well as to women, immigrants of color, Muslims, LGBTQs, and poor people) than were Democrats Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or an idiot or both.

I knew that even though I was and am a proud revolutionary socialist, socialist candidates and even most progressive candidates just ain’t gonna win on the national stage or on most state stages. Therefore, those like me who want substantive, systemic, and policy change for Blacks (as well as for women, immigrants of color, Muslims, LGBTQs, and poor people) must think and act strategically.

In other words, we gotta use the lesser evil to defeat the greater evil. Consequently, we gotta pursue gradual reform with the dislikable Democrats in order to achieve ultimate annihilation of the despicable Republicans.

And don’t tell me that nonsense about rejecting them both since they’re both evil. I already know that, dammit. But, to paraphrase Kautilya, a fourth century philosopher from India, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” For me, that is perfectly applicable, at least for today. I’ll confront the other enemy tomorrow.

This overall strategy of using the system to beat the system is consistent with Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech in 1964. The bullet is not strategic right now because the ballot remains a viable alternative- but only if that ballot is able to be cast freely instead of being successfully undermined by ongoing racist Republican voter suppression initiatives.

And although I wouldn’t dare try to speak for Brother Malcolm, I can say that voting reform leading to political revolution is consistent with his goal of releasing the grip that the corporate two-party system has on Black America in particular and white America in general.

In the November 4 edition of this “Freedom’s Journal” column, I’ll offer some suggested endorsements for specific candidates in the November 6 election. You’re certainly welcome to accept them or reject them. But you’re not welcome to be apathetic or shortsighted by not voting.

Our ancestors who battled for the right to vote didn’t merely die for that right. They were murdered for it. Remember Octavius Catto, the scholarly Cheyney University/Institute for Colored Youth professor and courageous Philadelphia voting rights activist? As of last week, it was exactly 147 years ago on October 10, 1871 at 9th and South Streets that he was lynched/shot to death for rallying Blacks to the polls then and for fighting to protect your right to vote today.

Explain to him why you’re not gonna vote.

Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1-FM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.

(1) comment

Jack Armstrong

This piece is so right on. For forty years the Republican Party has been allowed to roll back progress on civil rights, environmental protection, education and health care, even though a large majority of Americans disagree, because so many of us can't be bothered to vote against them.

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