Rev. Dr. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell once asked, “What’s in your hands?
Representation, referendums and rights.
Next Tuesday the nation can participate in the general election–and in theory choose the candidate who is best willing and able to satisfy the interest of the public good. It is, of course, all a matter of opinion and perspective, with hundreds of candidates, incumbents, propositions and side issues up for consideration.
One topic not argued by those who invested in the political process is the need for voters to get to the polling stations on Tuesday. Whatever your choice may be: mark it, scan it–vote.
Gubernatorial candidates Charles Barron, Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino have a few fast-paced days ahead, as do congressional and state legislative candidates.
“The upcoming midterm elections will determine the course of our nation just as much as the 2008 elections did. We need to elect lawmakers who will devote resources to families in need. We need to dedicate time and energy to supporting candidates who will address the graduation rate gap and failing schools in our communities. And we need to encourage others to pull the lever as well,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
According to some pundits, Andrew Cuomo is expected to win big in the Governor’s race, but there is some concern about whether the Democratic nominee will be committed to either an urban agenda–which recognizes the needs of Black and Brown people in communities throughout the state–or the labor coalition that has reliably supported Democratic candidates with both funding and manpower. For weeks the ITALAmsterdam NewsITAL called on Cuomo to release his urban agenda, and he did so with only days to go before the election, and without an on-the-record discussion of his proposals as the paper requested.
Because of his wishy washy campaign stand on urban issues, some Black and Brown voters are looking for an alternative to Cuomo, and while for some Paladino may not have proven to be a totally unacceptable alternative to the attorney general, for many Charles Barron and the Freedom Party is a viable choice.
Appearing at the United African Movement weekly meeting in Brooklyn last week, human rights activist Dick Gregory endorsed Barron, saying that the Freedom Party offers New Yorkers a significant opportunity to change the way politics are conducted in the state, especially as relates to the underserved communities. “If we continue the practice of voting for the lesser of two evils,” he said “eventually you will get the evilest of the two evils.” New Yorkers have a chance to upend politics as we know it in the state and send a powerful message to the two established parties. Folk used to promising to deliver the Black vote will have to rethink their thoughts and playbook.
Gregory noted that the Freedom Party represents everybody, and the masses should exercise their power and vote their interest. “I wholeheartedly endorse Charles Barron and urge everyone to vote for Charles Barron, because he really is the best candidate,” he said.
In order to become an established party, the Freedom Party must get at least 50,000 votes on Tuesday. Author and activist Nana Camille Yarborough, also a Barron backer, emphasized the need for folks to get out and vote. She said, “if you respect yourself and the terrible dues our people have had pay to come as far as we have come in this country, there should be no question. It is our right and duty to do so.”
Mani Gilyard, Chairman of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee, urged voters to come out on Tuesday and vote their power, saying “We, African-Americans and Latinos, have religiously given our votes to the Democratic Party decade after decade, and have not received even a token representation for our loyalty.” Decrying the “politricks” potential of the ballot, Gilyard warned that voters must be vigilant at the polling station. “There are multiple ballots in circulation and the Freedom Party may be on Line G, Line H, etc. Some voters may vote for the Liberterian (Liberty) Party thinking they are voting for the Freedom Party on the same line right next to each other.” On the state legislative level, the Assembly is expected to remain under the control of the diverse Democratic caucus. Some have criticized the iron grip that Sheldon Silver has on the caucus, and real opposition to his power has resulted in diminished influence by individual legislatures.
The State Senate majority is somewhat shaky. The Democrats have a slim two-seat advantage, but party leaders including John Sampson and Malcolm Smith have said they believe they can not only hold, but expand their numbers in the upper house. The State Senate was under the control of the Republicans for more than 40 years, and the all-white Republican caucus was infamous for doing little for communities of color during their long reign.
In private conversations, some Democrat insiders have questioned Cuomo’s commitment to keeping control of the State Senate, but with David Paterson leaving the executive mansion, the State Senate is the strongest voice for Black and Brown communities in state government.
Charlie Rangel is expected to remain the Dean of the New York Congressional delegation, and the Democrats are hoping for minimal losses in the delegation. The New York delegation currently has only two Republican members, Conservative Long Island Representative Peter King and businessman Christopher Lee, and the party is hoping that a strong Democratic showing in the Empire State will offset some expected losses in the South and Midwest.
Assistant Deputy Majority Leader Inez E. Dickens is urging everyone to come out and vote. The Council member declared, “These mid-term elections are critical to not only Black America but to all Americans who believe in liberty and justice for all. We are faced with a radical fanaticism that threatens to erase basic human and civil liberties.”
Our Congressman Charlie B. Rangel has been a victim of vicious attacks by these fanatics. I am asking you to vote to re-elect Congressman Charles Rangel and the democratic ticket to help our president, to elect Andrew Cuomo governor, so that they can continue to lead the fight for economic recovery for our city, our state and our nation.”
“This is a life-or-death vote, we must come out to the polls on November 2. It is imperative for our future,” said Freedom Party gubernatorial candidate Charles Barron, About to celebrate Black solidarity on Monday, November 1, the Brooklyn councilman said, “We need voting solidarity on Black Solidarity Day, then on Election Day we can establish the Freedom Party and demand our fair share of government power and resources, to deal with issues like the high unemployment, health disparities and high infant mortality and low life expectancy in our Black and Latino communities. We can have a line to put up other Black and Latino candidates. We can pick the next mayor or governor, and we can hold the two party system accountable to our communities.”
Meanwhile, the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch, along with the New York State Office of General Services and the United Missionary Baptist Association are sponsoring a GOTV Voter Awareness Ecumenical Event on the Plaza of the Harlem State Office Building, 163 West 125th Street, between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. this Saturday, October 30, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
So as November 2 comes ever closer, keep your eyes on the prize and remember to get out and vote. And for those interested in getting involved in get-out-the-vote efforts, log on to http://action.naacp.org/GOTV.
“Call 10 people. Help them understand why it is so vitally important to exercise their constitutional right,” said Jealous.