It clicked in 2013 when I was learning the nuances between political activism and community organizing inside of Minneapolis’s Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. All things being consistent in American culture, meaning if there is a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s somewhere near the town, one citizen isn’t too different from another citizen. People are people. Personalities tend to change, a little. Background stories contain different scenes, but the outcomes are the same. Despite the American ethic of individualism, socially conditioned group behavior remains.
Enter midterm voting in 2018. For reasons that seem to baffle those of us who continuously beg both parties to reexamine themselves, confuse among the voting patterns reigns. Once again, the number one question is: why are so many Americans choosing not to vote?
Shame Culture Tactics
The last month of the campaign was almost unbearable. Social media and the mainstream media were awash with more propaganda than a conspiracy theorist can weave by him or herself. #FakeNews was everywhere. Or, that is how it feels. In the overwhelm, the only message which seemed to get through was: vote as if your life depends upon it.
Um, that is called fearmongering. Or, better stated, it feels like fearmongering.
Inside of the (so-called) Black community, fearmongering doesn’t work. When you are reeling from the PTSD of weekend drug overdose and murder reports, you are already so filled with fear another tactic doesn’t work. Instead, shaming happens.
Every election cycle, Dr. King and the sacrifices of the Civil Rights Movement are used to inspire, ahem shame, Black voters into voting. The NAACP, or another multi-branch nationally-funded organization, stages a voter registration drive and runs a few local ads. The churches kick in. A smaller and smaller demographic of the community is reached by these traditional methods.
Online, the shaming is almost incessant with a lot of clever memes.
Unfortunately, shaming doesn’t work on those who are already exposed to structural injustice. They reach a space where it is felt that there is nothing, as an individual, they can do to change the chaos of violence and poverty they live in. A way out is not offered, whether politically or economically, only a culture of endurance is given.
Under the crush of fear and shame, it feels like, every cycle, American democracy needs to be saved by the act of voting.
The Numbers Themselves
It would surprise many who bemoan the drama of American politics, to learn that 113 million of their fellow citizens exercised their right to vote yesterday. Or, almost 49% of the United States voting population. It is the first time in our lifetimes over 100 million of us chose to unify the country through civic duty.
Marketing campaigns be damned, super-liberal California is reporting a 36.9% turn out with 19, 696, 371 persons registered to vote. If you frame things through the lens of Democrat and Republican, 4 out of 10 Liberals voting is not consistent with your frame. Yet, that is exactly what happened. Answering the question why Californians chose not to vote will be the hard work of organizers over the next two years as the 2020 Presidential election comes into focus.
All the numbers aren’t out, but I learned who the Blackest cities are. (Follow this link: https://www.roadsnacks.net/most-african-american-cities-in-america/)
So far, these are the links we can provide to specific cities.
43% turn out in Baltimore, Maryland.
Over 50% in Flint, Michigan.
57% in Georgia overall.
Now, in these days following the election, as the numbers begin to flow, is when activist much choose to turn into community organizers. Organizers begin with where the community is and seeks, through one-on-one interactions, to give community members a different experience of a public process.
If we listen to young people in America, we might hear the rumbling demands of a third party. They want something to vote for, not the lesser of two evils. I commend them for wanting to vote for no evil.
As the information comes in, we can ask ourselves interesting questions.
How old were the persons who voted?
Was voting by mail better than in-person voting?
Have these persons voted enough times in a row to get on the jury and polling lists?
Are these one issue voters or party line voters?
Do these voters move a lot or are they stationary?