As the Democratic primaries continue, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue the cattiness and finger pointing for at least another month. Their passionate supporters also have their claws out and their targets are the undecided black votes.
I am one of those “undecided” black votes the democratic candidates are clamoring for on every televised debate. But I am also a victim of a political circus that is ripping the very foundation from under black America. The fact that many would care not mention is the sentiment that developed for the undecided black vote. The undecided black vote in certain instances has become as ridiculed as its polar opposite, the black republican.
My victimization began during a dinner conversation, where the hot topic of the moment was naturally the presidential race of 2008. When I boldly announced that I was undecided in my vote for Obama or Clinton, the room went silent but that silence was disturbed by an acquaintance who vehemently shouted towards me “You’re black, you have to vote for Obama.”
For some reason, that phrase struck a chord within me but I ignored it as just one person’s opinion that wasn’t a reflection of the mainstream ideology. But after being bombarded with news analysts, debates and blogs, the sentiment was clear among black Democrats; you have two options with only one outcome. The options included voting for Obama, which is equivalent to voting black or voting for Clinton, which is voting loyal. These reasons have led to the recent mudslinging fest that has become the debates.
Those who do not adhere to the “right” choice risk being labeled a race traitor or not loyal.
This type of resentment for those who have not conformed to society’s norm are met with backlash from their peers, which at times can be overwhelming and hurtful in certain instances.
Undecided voters are being indirectly forced into choosing a candidate just to satisfy their neighbor’s beliefs. This idea of conformity is a message that democracy as a whole objects to. You should not be forced into accepting a candidate just because they resemble a kin. And you should not be coerced through guilt that picking a new candidate over a candidate that represented an era ended is an act of disloyalty. In both instances, you are just exercising your right as an American to vote as you like. Voting is an individual practice that does not have to represent the whole of society’s consciousness.
But this notion of democracy in its purest form was left by the wayside by some of the black supporters and politicians for Obama and Clinton. Supporters of Obama seem to be urging undecided black voters to vote for Obama, because it’s the natural thing to do if you are black and want change. While black Clinton supporters urge voters to remember an era that provided economic and political prosperity for blacks, for fear of being labeled ungrateful and not loyal.
Both arguments may seem valid to those that adhere and promote those convictions, but in essence they defeat the purpose of exercising your individual right to vote as you please. Race and loyalty should have no bearing on who should be president of the United States of America. When these false issues are presented through the media lens, it often overshadows the real issues at hand like economics, education, healthcare and Iraq. With the attention focused on race and loyalty, many voters are in turn unaware of the platforms the candidates stand on.
Many also fail to realize that beneath the commercialism that has become the democratic primaries is a dream. A dream Dr. Martin Luther King and many more have fought for. The fact an African-American and a woman can potentialy be president demonstrates the strides in social equality.
As November approaches, ignore the superficial arguments for choosing a president and focus on the issues that ultimately determine the course of America. Loyalty cannot provide economic stability and race preference can’t bring home troops from Iraq. The change you want to see begins with a choice that in essence is the most truthful and pure in intention.