My Ballot or My Bullet

Jose Vilson Jose



Malcolm X in Blue


Shocked? Bewildered? You shouldn’t be.

Outside of Dennis Kucinich, I haven’t been impressed with any of the candidates really. I’ve disbanded myself from all political parties, and frankly, I’m disenchanted with all the choices I have now, which leads me to this:

“We must understand the politics of our community and we must know what politics is supposed to produce. We must know what part politics play in our lives. And until we become politically mature we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived or maneuvered into supporting someone politically who doesn’t have the good of our community at heart.”

Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, April 12, 1964

I’m no Malcolm, but I swear he’s speaking to some of us from the grave. I had a discussion about the discrimination that both of the candidates face with my lady, and while I contended that Obama and Hillary face their own discrimination based on their race or sex respectively, I also found myself discussing people who didn’t really speak to me. As I’m chomping down my arroz con habichuela (rice and beans, people), I’m sitting there like a fool trying to justify whose plight is worse in the media.

Just then, I think: really, are they looking out for me?

When we look at Hillary and Obama based on their voting records, they’re almost identical. Obama diidn’t get to vote for the Patriot Act or the Iraq War. Yet, Obama’s still lambasting Hillary for a vote he seems to support (since he continues to use his votes to fund that war). Hillary’s camp (looking at you, BET founder Robert Johnson) made some rather harsh and albeit racist comments towards Obama, so even with all the sexist comments people make about her, she has a hard time gaining any credibility with her deft tactics.

On paper (i.e. their plans and designs for their version of America), Hillary’s got the better health care plan, saving hundreds of dollars against Obama’s plan, and many years in politics to back up her claims. On TV and around the country, Obama’s got a better movement behind him, people of all races and classes rallying behind him, and some of the most thrilling speeches in recent history. But frankly, I even support Al Gore’s positions from 8 years ago more than I do either Obama’s or Hillary’s at this point, and I’m definitely a more educated voter now.

The candidates’ plans are all pipe dreams unless we really start investing in our own self-worth. No celebrity-filled pop music video featuring my favorite artists or stacks of campaign money from some of my favorite actors and actresses can convince me otherwise. I couldn’t care less for Obama if he has no clear position about education when he’s been a huge beneficiary of excellent education in this country. I couldn’t care less for Hillary either (or Bill for that matter), especially since her political bedfellows include GOPers keeping us from true and universal health care. It’s been fairly obvious that, despite all the progress we think we’ve made, the poor are poorer and the rich are richer.

I often think that there’s no point in me voting in a heavily Hillary-influenced state like New York for any of these candidates if the Most Children Left Behind Act still helps corporations privatize education and helps destroy unions, if the need for universal health care doesn’t awaken any of these candidates who line their pockets with monies from those very companies we need protection from, if we still have young men and women dying needlessly for oil’s sake and when they come back into the country, we don’t respect them by giving them adequate benefits for them or their families.

Of course, I won’t even touch McCain, Huckabee, or whoever the Republicans will try to throw into the race since the higher-ups aren’t pleased with their leading candidates. They’re a crowd I wouldn’t get too close to for fear of contracting a plethora of contagions and other icky shit.

And I love seeing people get into discussion about politics and how it affects them, but we can’t vote for the politics of “the lesser of two evils.” It’s either that we vote for the person that represents our views or we don’t. And if we don’t like the person, then let’s withdraw our vote until we like who we see. To paraphrase Malcolm, I’m not shooting my bullet ballot until the right candidate’s up in my range.

jose, who wants to know what you’re thinking as you read this …

p.s. – Don’t just throw out the word “teachers” in a crowd just so people can clap for you. Either you really support them or you don’t. Simple as that.