Column: It’s time for black people to break the two-party system
Editor’s Note: On Thursday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m. EDT, the PBS NewsHour along with the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research will present a special forum on “Race & the Race to the White House.” Arielle Newton, activist and founder of the Black Millennials blog will join in a live chat during the forum on Twitter. You can watch live and join in the discussion here.
As a radical black militant, this presidential election is best characterized as a tyrannical pageant of white fear. Across the political spectrum, white voters are terrified of what the future will bring should either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump become the next commander in chief.
White supporters of Hillary Clinton are concerned with the rise of neo-fascism, of what a Trump presidency would mean for the fragile economic sector, foreign policy, immigration and social progress. For Trump supporters, a world of black and brown people pouring through American borders is a dastardly reality that must ultimately be confronted and curbed through racist, ideological litmus tests for incoming immigrants, draconian and impractical measures against the undocumented and isolationist economic policies that are sure to disrupt our precarious economy.
To be a white spectator in this election season means to cast an uncomplicated vote dependent on personal value systems. To be a black body witnessing this unprecedented election means to be in a constant state of conflict; to be caught in the middle of two great evils.
I will not be voting for either mainstream candidate. Hillary Clinton does not care deeply for black lives; she is a foreign policy hawk that has dismantled black and brown communities for profit and special interest. Trump is a thin-skinned coward.
Many politically and civically engaged black folk are voting for Clinton come November. Historically, the Democratic Party of which Clinton is the newly elected standard-bearer, has relied heavily on dedicated and reliable groups of black voters. Following the meteoric election of President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party is sure to reap the political benefits of the robust black voting bloc for years, if not centuries to come.
Compounded with the election of the first black president is the overarching strategic inclusion of black voices throughout Democratic contemporary political operations. In recent times, the Democratic Party, with its well-stocked infrastructural establishment, has secured its allegiance of black voters through the careful installation of black political operatives and its comprehensive grassroots ground game. But the Democratic Party pays lip service to the black community, and does not represent any transformative pathway to wholehearted racial justice or black liberation.
The Democratic Party is a master of reformist performance. They claim to care about the plight of black bodies and offer half measures that serve to placate black voters. Yet they are beholden to multi-national corporations and are incapable of introducing and implementing radical policies that will fundamentally reshape the anti-black construction of this nation. The Democratic establishment will never call for the abolition of law enforcement or economic reparations for black bodies; instead they’ll call for police-worn body cameras and (maybe) “independent” oversight.
They will not trim the budgets of surveillance agencies, and they will never view Palestinians as an oppressed, disenfranchised people and place righteous, unapologetic blame on the government of Israel. They will never view domestic law enforcement as a direct entity of historical slave patrols or call for the end of mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex. Instead, they will demand that we compromise, wait our turn, be peaceful and vote. The Democratic Party is a center-right political operation that relies on the passions of black bodies to maintain its mainstream political dominance.
So I’m voting for a third-party candidate: Dr. Jill Stein. Dr. Stein holds an enlightened intersectional value system in which the most vulnerable are centered. From advocating for the eradication of student loan debt to proposing an end to mass incarceration and the failed War on Drugs, Dr. Stein is closest to my pro-black perspective.
White and black liberals alike have told me that my vote is a waste. To them, voting for Dr. Jill Stein is a way to ensure that Donald Trump becomes president. And maybe it is. I concede that I would rather not experience life with the petty Trump having access to nuclear codes. But my desire for long term and scalable freedom, for both myself and my people domestically and globally, is more palpable than the temporary comfort my middle-class upbringing provides me.
Voting third party is a long-term strategy. The Green Party only needs 5 percent of the popular vote to qualify for public campaign funds come 2020. Such funds could amount to $10 million, a sum that could translate into effective grassroots community organizing in key counties across states.
My disdain for the Democratic Party is not an endorsement of the Republican Party. The right-wing establishment is a nativist institution that aims to protect rich, heterosexual, cis-gender and able-bodied white men. Instead, my disdain for the Democratic Party is the result of my disgust with institutions that, at a cursory glance, appear inclined and empathetic to progressive causes while serving and protecting the interests of the most privileged.
The current two-party system has wreaked havoc on the black community. It has co-opted our fundamental value systems to fit trending political molds.
And such is a reality that I will no longer deem credible, fixable or worthy of my vote.
This column is the third in a five-part series related to the 2016 Hutchins Forum on Race and the Race to the White House.
- In part one, conservative talk show host and GOP analyst Armstrong Williams explores whether the Republican party is hurt by nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric and leadership style.
- In part two, Harvard University assistant professor of public policy, Leah Wright-Rigueur, explains why the Democratic Party has its own race problem.
Check out all the columns in this series by clicking here.