The whole notion of Republican tactics to suppress the black vote as being some sort of decisive sign or proof as to the actual power and threat of the black vote – i.e., fear of the black vote as evidence of its power and significance – is (in my opinion) a bit misleading.
The real question that, perhaps, we should be asking ourselves is, fear of the black vote as proof of its power and significance to whom? Again, siting the observation of Malcolm X, “[White folks] are fighting each other for power and prestige, and the one that is the football in the game is the Negro, 20 million black people. A political football, a political pawn, an economic football, and economic pawn. A social football, a social pawn.”
I reiterate, black people have ALWAYS been used, merely, as pawns to settle power disputes between white folk. In this regard black folks have always served as nothing other than validators and protectors of white power! Hell, this goes all the way back to slavery and the 3/5 compromise wherein, black slaves were used as pawns in the dispute over WHITE status and the allocation of WHITE political power – the southern states wanted their slaves to be counted as a means to win more seats in Congress and more electoral votes.
Although we are now, “LEGALLY FREE” and thus have the “RIGHT” to vote. Our vote still, pretty much, carries the same amount of power and weight – in regards to our collective interest – as the exploited labor of our enslaved ancestors served their own interest. In other words our political power (now) just as our labor power (then and now) is still essentially being appropriated and exploited for the reification and preservation of WHITE CAPITALIST INTEREST.
One need look no further than the Obama presidency to see the ultimate superficiality and impotence of black political power as represented via the black vote. I mean sure the black vote was significant in getting a black man in the most coveted WHITE HOUSE in the land. But let’s face it (at the end of the day) the achievement carried no real weight beyond mere symbolism.
As once in office the black (neoliberal) president did FAR more to serve and protect white corporate interest – beyond (bullshit) coincidental and minor concessions – than that of the struggling and oppressed black masses. His TRUE allegiance was to the white corporate establishment. Hence his power as well as black political power (as a whole) merely served to reinforce WHITE CAPITALIST HEGEMONY – which in this particular case was specifically white liberal hegemony.
“Politically the American Negro is nothing but a football and the white liberals control this mentally dead ball through tricks of tokenism: false promises of integration and civil rights. In this profitable game of deceiving and exploiting the politics of the American Negro, those white liberals have the willing cooperation of the Negro civil rights leaders. These “leaders” sell out our people for just a few crumbs of token recognition and token gains. These “leaders” are satisfied with token victories and token progress because they themselves are nothing but token leaders” ~ Malcolm X
In this regard black folks allegiance to the Democratic Party more closely resembles that of a feudal (vassal and serf) relationship, as opposed to an alliance that is based upon mutual power and respect. Whereby, black leaders are coopted and appointed as political vassals – their job is to corral and deliver the black vote to the white liberal in exchange for their service and fealty to white liberal nobility. And the black voter (as serf) pledges their undying faith, fealty and labor to the vassals and the Democratic Party (white liberals) in exchange for promises of protection from the nefarious and racist Republican Party (white conservatives).
Needless to say this symbiotic relationship is far from being mutually beneficial – if anything it is downright parasitic. The white liberal feeds on black dependency and need and therefore essentially exploits, consumes and manipulates black political power for its own gain. Again, to borrow from Malcolm’s observations, black folk fail to recognize that both (Democrat/Republican) parties are merely two separate factions of white groups dueling for institutional power and prestige.
(This is essentially a power struggle between WHITE LIBERALS and WHITE CONSERVATIVES – both parties simply have designs on securing the, GREAT WHITE THRONE.)
Neither, are TRULY interested in betraying their own white privilege for the sake of dismantling this corrupt capitalist system (WHITE POWER STRUCTURE) in order to bring about TRUE liberty and independence for ALL. Consequently, both parties (Democrats/Republicans) are duplicitous; neither more moral or ethical than the other.
Therefore, it is my belief that Republican tactics to suppress the black vote has less to do with their fear of the black vote as effective tool for black liberation – thus significant threat to the white power monolith (capitalism).
I believe, Republicans (white conservatives) penchant towards black voter suppression, in fact, stems from an understanding of the Democratic Party’s (white liberals) control of the black vote. As such, they (white conservatives) depend upon voter suppression as a means to secure victory over white liberals by essentially neutralizing their most reliable, essential and effective weapon.
Now this is not, at all, to imply that voting has no value, whatsoever. I do believe it, CAN BE, effective as a strategic tool. (The keywords here being strategic and tool.) However, the problem is, we don’t use the vote as a strategic tool. We see voting as the single most valuable and significant option we have for bringing about REAL change. Mind you, the most significant historical victories won by black people did not come about through voting. They were won on the streets, through hard fought battles … ACTION (fighting, disrupting, rebelling, resisting). However now, we seem to no longer place any real value or significance in the power of active resistance as a viable and necessary option for bringing about authentic change. Instead, we (black people) focus ALL our power and energy on the simple act of, VOTING.
Unfortunately the vote has essentially supplanted direct action and resistance as a means of challenging and fighting the system. I mean sure, protesting has become more popular as of late but for the most part it’s still only adopted as a reactive measure, e.g. police kill black individual- outrage ensues-we take to the streets-grow tired-bored-go right back to sleep. As opposed to remaining vigilant and proactive constantly (organizing, protesting, resisting, fighting and disrupting) standing as though our very lives and the lives of our children depended upon it – which in fact they do.
It is constant disruptive and obstreperous action that poses a REAL threat to the system and the status quo because it foments revolutionary activity. It is this radical action that (grasping the root) strikes to the very heart and soul of the system because like a wild fire, mass dissent spreads uncontrollably. It is unable to be easily extinguished or tamed. It is this wild fire, not voting, that terrifies the status quo more than anything else. For the simple fact that, it shakes the very foundation, it undermines and exposes the ruse that is our civil society.
(“Voting does very little in terms of really addressing fundamental structural inequality. I mean you can’t vote out white supremacy. You can’t vote out capitalism.” Dr. Jared A. Ball)
Voting – on the other hand – does not pose any real threat or danger to the system. Voting is not revolution. Which is why the simple act of voting can only essentially serve to validate the system. It is, ONLY, revolutionary action that can effectively challenge and dismantle the system. Hence, revolution, ALONE, can usher in REAL change.
In this same regard it is constant vigilance, action and resistance, which places us in a position of power whereby we can actually wield our vote strategically. That is to say, if we are to use the vote we must – thinking in terms of traditional radical politics – develop alternative options and platforms as to how we use it in order that it serves (AT LEAST) as a tool and means for supplying our demands.
It is not enough to simply, get out and vote. Voting without action is utterly symbolic. What we need to be saying is: GET OUT AND FIGHT. GET OUT AND ORGANIZE. GET OUT AND DISRUPT. GET OUT AND REBEL. GET OUT AND RESIST. GET OUT AND BUILD THE REVOLUTION.
Power concedes nothing without DEMAND!
Voting without ACTION does not equate demand nor does it equate power –it’s merely begging and gambling – in fact it’s as dead as faith without work. If we simply vote but are not actually willing or prepared to fight in order to protect and bring into fruition that which we cast our votes for; we are simply wasting our time and energy. We are essentially leaving our vote (squandering, ceding and capitulating whatever potential power we actually have) to the precarious whims of the greedy ruling class powerbrokers of this corrupt capitalist (white dominated) system.
Furthermore, the argument that white racist are more afraid of the black vote than they are of a black insurrection is completely laughable. Of course, white racist are not afraid of a black insurrection. Because (let’s face it) THEY KNOW WE AIN’T REALLY ABOUT THAT LIFE. They know that, ultimately, black people are terrified of such an option. They are very aware that we do not stand as a united front and thus do not stand a chance in hell against them.
They know that the large majority of black people are fearfully and acquiescently obeisant to this white power structure. Just as they know that most black folk simply want to be invited to sit at great white tables (IVORY TOWERS and WHITE HOUSES). They know that most black folk – chasing the illusion of parity – are more desperate to get in than out. (If anything, the blind fervor over Obama’s presidency completely proved this.)
For this same reason they are not, actually, fearful of the black vote because they are, ALL TOO AWARE, that the black vote is ultimately owned and controlled by the Democratic Party (white liberals) and therefore (the black vote) STILL ultimately serves to preserve white hegemony. I honestly don’t believe that, to the racist white conservatives – at least those that actually hold power – the black vote is (AT ALL) considered to be truly threatening, radical or revolutionarily inclined. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe they ultimately view black voters as housebroken dogs on fancy white (Democratic) leashes.
Lastly, if we are reduced to casting our votes on the basis of fear (choosing between the lesser of two evils) then we are not, in fact, operating from a position of power but from that of fearful compliance. We are merely chickens caught in the middle of a standoff between the wolf and fox.