To Suffer in Suffrage

Nehemiah Bester, Radford University

Perhaps the simplest, emptiest, and most unwinnable emotion inside the human heart is the depressive feeling of hopelessness. No such picture could have the ability to capture in full the tremendous weight that lack of hope brings to the trifecta of mind, body, and spirit. It was hope that gave song to the negro spirituals and endorphins to the drowning man. It was hope that allowed an entire people to break from chains, and lack thereof to keep them there mentally. That is the consequence of what this emotion can do. 

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To some, voting may be nothing more than slipping a piece of paper into the dark slit of a box, or selecting one square over another on a computer. But for others; a vote is the most democratic, just, and high-end civic duty that allows representation of the collective human body; a voice. Name someone who prefers the man who cannot speak, over the one with booming speech. For most non-white Angelo-Saxon property-owning men voting has always been a norm living in the United States of America. Was there ever such a thing as a truly democratic vote for the human beings of this country? If so where was the voice and who could hear them? As we dwell deeper into this democratic hypnosis, we can explain the present-day lack of voter turnout from the origins of our very own Framers. And they ask why people don’t vote, without realizing how impossible it can be to wake up from political unconsciousness.

It should come with no surprise how terrifically unimpressive America compares against the globe on political participation; we are slugs in a race of snakes. Countries all over the world have an increasingly greater participation from its citizens when it comes to elections and civic duties, but why? Maybe they care more about their people, or maybe they offer incentives for going out and engaging in politics even at the most basic level. Whatever the case suggests, one song that rings true is America just so happens to be exceptional; or more specifically an exception. To my knowledge, America is (or was) one of the leading nations that were completely selfish when it came to the fundamental and democratic simplicities of suffrage. Just let the people vote! But wait let’s not get 17th century politically incorrect.

The only “people” in this great land are white male property owners. No Native Americans, poor people, women, Blacks, need we go on? When this lump sum of American’s population is eliminated from the political conversation for such a long time it isn’t hard to wonder why in the present day these roots of the hanging tree remain living.

Looking at what we know, people vote based on certain criteria specific to the interconnections that make up their everyday chores of life. These include; the number of resources at their disposal, their desire to participate politically, and when they are recruited into the world of voting rights. Basically people get involved in politics when they are able, when it best suits them and when it is asked of them. Now within each of these three categories lies a number of factors that can statistically explain why certain groups of people vote while others don’t. These include but are not limited to: institutional factors, time, history, efficacy, income, education and culture just to highlight a few. With these in mind, it is no wonder the millions of people missing in action do more than avoiding participation, they act like it never existed.

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The plot twist of this unpleasantness is that this is indelibly true for many American citizens. For example; historically Blacks indeed have been cursed with perhaps the darkest decades of political participation. From poll taxes, literacy tests, intimidation at election offices, grandfather clauses, if you can imagine it, the devil has probably brought it to the black body. The lengthy list of capital punishments without probable cause to Black Americans is a forest of unforgivable sins. And the sin transcends time. An eighteen-year-old black boy never had, as Rick James would suggest a “Fire And Desire” in getting active during election time because his parents didn’t get excited during election time because their parents were never excited about it because their parents had no hope for it which only perpetuates the eternal curse.

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That was the unfortunate circumstance until a diamond in the rough by the name of Barrack Hussein Obama rose to such an occasion. The Presidential Election of 2008 brought Blacks out like never before, electrifying Black communities to leap at the chance to participate and see for their own eyes a man of African ancestry ascend into the highest office of the land.  

More to the notion of abstaining from the vote is the idea that one’s vote does not matter. This can be a rationale for a number of different meanings. Hypothetically, if a person was primarily a conservative voter residing in a primarily liberal political arena, what are the serious chances that his or her vote beats out the towns? It’s a tremendous unlikelihood. One might even say it would be irrational for this individual to even consider that fact that their vote might make a difference. Because after all, it only takes one person with an opposing view to completely cancel out that vote. Now, how about we reverse the hypothetical. Indeed the same scenario can be explained if say there is a democratic voter in a primarily liberal political space. Our subject is actually not too different from our alternative friend before as he believes that since his district is normally blue there is little need for him to even waste time voting. This is where we get into the paradox of suffrage because whether one believes their vote matters or one happens to disagree with this proposition, they both are correct.

So what are the causes and effects of this political analysis? To be clear, it appears that with this sufficient evidence the scarcity in deciding to vote in terms of efficacy is explicitly out of the hands of minorities. One can vote when they have the opportunity, however, an opportunity is such a rare commodity in communities of color that the sudden awakening of voter privileges for these areas will take time to adjust. This is the causal explanation why some people have a choice to vote while others silently await permission to vote. Desire, recruitment, and resources are absolutely critical in finding a reasonable solution to why our citizens don’t vote.

To those who have the god given right to participate, it would be strongly recommended to do so. Utilize this innate entitlement as so many have since lost hope to practice and participate in this political suffrage. To those who have been cursed with the misfortune to endure the scam that was laid out by the Framers, it would also be recommended to utilize the fairly recent opportunity to participate politically.

The greatest mistake for Black Americans, Latinos, Natives and woman would be abstaining from the polls. On the other hand, the greatest asset would be to express the institutional harms that have plagued their regions and vote for the representative that aims to assist in the social morality of their background. When one community suffers be it based on race, culture, creed, gender or any other unpopular norm-  the very soils that America sits upon suffers inclusively. In the present day voting without hope is nostalgic to the history of suffrage reapportionment to our citizens who have long lacked equal representation. Without it, America’s sins shall find little pardon or forgiveness, as the time to repent has been long overdue.