‘At the bottom of politics … lies economics’

JAMES CLINGMAN | 8/8/2016, 7:07 a.m.
Booker T. Washington spoke those words in his best effort to show us what is really happening in this country.
James Clingman

(George Curry Media) – Booker T. Washington spoke those words in his best effort to show us what is really happening in this country. He tried to convince us to stay focused on the money side of things, and he admonished us not to immerse ourselves in the political whirlpool and abandon our economic resources. As I look at the upcoming election, and as I have written since the Florida election debacle in 2000, all I can sadly say is, “Sorry, Brother Booker; we did not listen to you.”

Once again, this is the “most important election of our time,” and we are gearing up for the fight. We must register to vote, once again, because our people “died for the right” to do so. We must come out as we have never come out before – you know, like we did in 2000, because 2016 is the “most critical election of our lifetime” – again. Black folks are so hyped about this election, irrespective of not hearing very much about how Black people, specifically, will be positively affected by the outcome.

Our leaders tell us – again – that Black folks have the “power” to sway the election in either direction. The question is, if we have that kind of power, why aren’t we using it to get a few concessions for ourselves? Why aren’t we forming an independent political party and leveraging our “power” for a quid pro quo? We may have the power to swing the vote, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I suppose a better way to say it is that Democrats need the power of the Black vote to win, but Republicans only needed one Black vote in 2000 to win: Clarence Thomas’s vote.

This political game, at least the way we are playing it, is one that keeps our attention on the symbolism rather than the substance beneath it all. We have had decades to get our act together. Didn’t we see what happened in 2000? Why did our political leaders go back to sleep after they yelled, screamed and ranted about the “Presidential Selection?” What were the brothers and sisters doing in Florida after their rights were destroyed by Hurricane Katherine (Harris)? Oh, yeah – they sent her to Congress.

What have we been doing to avoid a repeat of what we so vehemently complained about? Most would say, “We have been registering new voters.” Well, here is what the other folks have been doing: They have been making money. Private companies and lobbyists have used their time to figure out how to make more money from the political chicanery that takes place in this country. Private companies and lobbyists have been wooing our Secretaries of Defense, Commerce and State, hawking their wares across this nation and licking their chops at the thought of raking even more filthy lucre into their coffers.

Between the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, millions of dollars were made on computerized voting machines. Deals were made to open new offices in counties where their systems were purchased, and backroom deals, such as discounts on software upgrades, were consummated.