Words by Kokayi Nosakhere
Thank you for choosing to read this open letter, I write to you in love. I want to tell you, to the best of my ability, why I, a “liberal” – a term forced upon me – am choosing to participate in the mid-term elections and vote. I hope that my arguments inspire you and others to choose to act like Americans.
I hope you appreciate that I know President Trump is advocating voting on November 6, 2018. I know only because social media told me, not because the mainstream media did. I went to mainstream media sites searching for a full clip of the President’s words. I was shocked that he advocated voting at a competitive turn out to a blue wave; envisioning a red wave at the polls.
My shock is not based on cynicism. In my column published inside the Anchorage Press on more than one occasion I urged my Liberal American family to open their ears and hear the contrasting perspective of Conservative America.
Despite all the “trolling” and name-calling online, I continue to argue social media is the most democratic tool available to activists at the present moment. This remains true, even as political operatives scramble to figure out effective get-out-the-vote efforts. Direct texting, while sexy and alluring due to its immediate feedback, I question it’s sustainability. It appears to be a variant of the fundamentals. It is good in the short term, diasterous to invest into as a tipping point strategy.
Here in Oregon, the culture is vote by mail. I received my ballot over the weekend and I am contemplating whether or not I am going to vote. This is the first time I question the my participation since I attained the franchise in 1992.
I grew up worshiping the right to vote. My family hails from Southwest Louisiana. Stories of lynching and blatant discrimination weren’t whispered, there were spoken out loud for us children to digest. They knew the cost. Consequently, reverent silence was demanded whenever the sound of Dr. King’s baritone pierced the air. The Civil Rights Movement was held sacred. This is my first and most influential reason to vote: tribal obligation,
In 2016, I saw exactly what my fellow activists saw in 2016: two horrible candidates for President. I did the only honorable thing I could, I voted for a white woman – Jill Stein.
I do not regret my vote and resist all efforts by Democratic pundits to blame me, or those who choose to not vote, responsible for the Trump Presidency. Nor am I going to advocate shame upon those who choose to sit out these congressional midterms.
Living in Oregon, my concerns, and I consider them valid, begin with wondering how my name is going to be received. It is non-Western. Kokayi Tehuti Nosakhere. It translates into, “summon the people, o’ messenger, because God’s way is the only way.”
The Oregon ballot holds an initiative asking if the state will retain its sanctuary status, after 30 years of employing Latinx-based migrant workers. This fact alone scares me. If one-on-one relating to those of different class and race doesn’t create a paradigm-shift inside the individual, like the Civil Right Movement inspired, then, what hope exist?
I was born in Anchorage, Alaska in 1974. I do not have an birth certificate on me from the state capital, Juneau, to prove my U.S. citizenship. I do have a Florida issued ID. I used it to enter a hostel in Portland.
I take refuge in the idea that I received a ballot and my application to receive the right to vote was honored. I think it is this actual fact that my conservative friends lean upon to side eye my fears about white people being racist and supressing my vote, due to my foreign-originating name.
Interjected into the national conversation are valid news reports – from the ground, so, yes, I trust the reported accounts – of voter suppression. The one in Georgia about the senior citizens, you know, the children of the Civil Rights movement, being denied the right to vote is impactful.
To counter, I can hear my conservative friends and family choosing to site the California article of 1,500 non-citizens being added mysteriously to polls. (How is this possible if AMERICANS are operating the process?)
No matter what psychological justification I use, the act of voting by mail is one of powerlessness. What do I mean? I mean, once I seal my ballot up and put it in the mail, I have no control over whether it is counted. I am told on election night what election central did. I have no accountability structure, as the average citizen, to verify the accuracy of the process. I have to trust that my fellow citizens performed their democratic duty.
I do. I trust because I have spent too much time participating inside the political process. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that every one of the persons choosing to implement the American process of governance is a human being, just like me. They are not influenced by international bankers, masons or depraved conspiratorial organizations. They are mothers, fathers, janitors, hotel works, clerks, tellers and office administrators. They are the grassroots of America; the plain folk.
They want nothing of the stink of politics upon them. Those who choose to volunteer are normally so above reproach that the community greets them at the polling booth and breathes a sigh of relief. The younger mothers and fathers who run into the elementary schools and churches to vote KNOW these old persons did not tolerate foolishness in their time. The history books are filled with the deicisons the Elders made. Without them, Watergate would not have happened or the protests of the Vietnam War. If these defenders of the realm are not to be trusted, who is?
Yes, I am going to vote. Why? And, please allow me to quote Dr. King, “The most revolutionary thing a Negro can do is act like an American.”
Voting is American.
I am American.