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Why Vote? An Open Letter To Cali Hip Hop

feat_paris

The debate comes

up time and time again. Why vote? Nothing seems to matter, and politics are

corrupt. Besides, our voices don’t make a difference anyway, right?

Wrong.

Our voices absolutely

make a difference, and they are needed more than ever right now. Aside from

the fact that people died during the Civil Rights Era to allow us the ability

to vote, the situation in politics is so grave right now that I believe our

immediate objective should be to remove and/or keep the worst-case scenarios

from office, rather than focus on putting the best folks in.

Ordinarily I would

hold out and vote for the candidate that best reflects my beliefs. But in this

instance, desperate times call for

desperate measures. Conservatives vote, often as a unified force, and rarely

is their collective voice as splintered as that of progressives. This lack of

focus serves to weaken significant opposition to the conservative agenda. I

believe that in this instance, we, as those seeking change, must adjust accordingly.

Sure there are

people who exist who closely echo the sentiments of many of us. But can they

really win this time, given their inadequate funding and relatively low profiles?

And can we afford to waste votes in this climate where we’ve seen the results

of a worst-case scenario (Bush)? Like it or not, voters who embrace a moderate

platform are needed to ensure the success of both the progressive and conservative

agendas, respectively. And like it or not, the truth is that there are differences–major

differences–between the main political parties (i.e. Supreme Court Nominations).

Am I beholden to democrats? Absolutely not.

But I’ll take them over republicans any day, as long as things exist the way

they do. Read on. The fact that the media has

[http://www.guerrillafunk.com/thoughts/doc1067.html]

decidedly conservative bias is what tilts most in the middle towards conservatism.

It’s easier for the average, no-opinion-having, non-reading American to parrot

the Newspeak on everychannel USA then it is for them to do independent research

and analyze information on their own. But given the state of the [http://www.guerrillafunk.com/general_info/economy9_26.html]

economy and the fact that global war is being waged on

people of color for [http://www.guerrillafunk.com/thoughts/doc2846.html

] profit, it’s necessary for us to develop our own

strategies.

The effectiveness

of the agenda of the conservative political base has been their success in generating

confusion and spreading misinformation, thereby making many of us so disillusioned

with the system that we refuse to participate in it. We’ve come to believe that

things will never really change no matter what we do. This belief often allows

the very small percentage of people who vote to shape policies, and thus control

the destinies of the larger collective. It’s all really quite easy for them

to accomplish through the propaganda they release on outlets they manipulate.

In fact, let’s dissect an example of this propaganda. Yesterday, a story ran

showing that CNN Gallop polls say

[http://www.guerrillafunk.com/general_info/arnie.html]

Things Look Good for Schwarzenegger." The story ran

all over the media–so much so, in fact, that it seemed as though the media

had it’s own agenda. He was on every television news program and on the cover

of every daily. View this in contrast to the coverage of Bush’s recent [http://www.guerrillafunk.com/general_info/admission.html]

admission that there exists no concrete link between

Saddam and 9/11, an obviously much more newsworthy story in light of the fact

we’re killing–and being killed–on a daily basis in Iraq. What admission, you

say? The one that was all but swept under the rug. The one that flies in the

face of the administration’s objectives and official story up to this point.

The one that was too much truth for the public, I guess…

But back to the

poll. Did they ask you any questions? No? They didn’t? Well guess what, they

didn’t poll me either, or anyone I know. And where did they poll these mystery

folks, and how many did they poll? Most of the polls are between 500 and 1000

people. This is significant because, at least as far as this instance is concerned,

there are 37,000,000 people in California. These polls are definitely not representative

of the entire voice of the state. Understand that the media can craft the desired

results of these polls by selectively choosing their polling demographic – if

they even conduct the poll at all (who knows?). For example, if I go into Oakland

or Hunter’s Point in the San Francisco Bay Area and ask 1000 residents what

the number one problem in their community is that they’d like to see addressed,

it’d be safe to assume that black-on-black crime would be at the top of the

list. But pose that same question to residents in Simi Valley, California and

the answer would be completely different – probably something along the lines

of complaints about property taxes or excessive real estate expansion.

The more the media

clouds the issues, the easier it is for conservatives (people who actually band

together and vote) to shape policy.

But why complain?

Does it really do any good? Well, more often than not, it doesn’t. But voting

does, if enough people do it. The problem is that we’ve effectively been led

to believe that we can’t make a difference on an individual level. Of course,

the media doesn’t help. They tell us that the electoral process is corrupt,

and they rarely provide adequate and equal coverage of all of the candidates

and their respective positions.

So that leaves

it up to us. The fact is, if more of us became involved, minor snafus in the

system wouldn’t matter as much. But they matter greatly when candidates run

neck-and-neck and the margin of error is as slim as it’s been in recent elections.

Add to this the

element of celebrity and the dynamic of everything changes completely.

Conservatives like

to say that although Americans have the right of free speech, celebrities should

"keep their pie-holes shut," since they not only aren’t knowledgeable

enough to be in politics, but that they unabashedly use their fame to lure the

nai"ve media into reporting their views. The celebrities "are abusing

their stature [and] need to be put back in their place [and] need to understand

where they are in the great food chain of life," said John Kobylt, talk-show

host at radio powerhouse KFI-AM in Los Angeles.

But aren’t media

pundits celebrities? And what about Arnold? What makes our views any less important

or knowledgeable than those of Ronald Reagan, Sen. George Murphy, Sen. Fred

Thompson, Reps. Fred Grandy and Sonny Bono, Mayor Clint Eastwood, or Charlton

Heston? The entire Fox News line-up? Dennis Miller, Laura Ingraham or Ann H.

Coulter? Nothing.

They’re just afforded the ability to be heard by the press, that’s all. And

when they speak, the neo-con pundits rejoice! Whoopee! Go America! To hell with

asking questions as unemployment and death tolls rise, "Let’s Roll!"

What we need to

do now more than ever is become involved. Don’t allow your contempt for politics

and the way things are push you into not wanting to be a part of the system.

We can bang on the system by changing it from within. If we, as the disenfranchised

class and hip-hop generation, all voted and became a political force, that would

be nothing short of revolutionary–without ever having to pick up a gun. Why

let someone else determine our destiny? There’s nothing more appealing to the

ruling class than an ill-informed population of consumers. The maintenance of

a working class of obedient sheep is the number one priority of the corporate

elite. Why else would policy makers, who represent their interests, continue,

year-after-year and

generation-after-generation, to undermine education through lack of funding?

DO NOT allow yourself

to get caught up in the allure of celebrity. For the record, and in case you

don’t know, Arnold

Schwarzenegger is a republican who has tip-toed around elaborating on his positions

on specific issues. Forget his celebrity, or what may appear to be his likeability

– he represents a party that has proven itself to be exclusionary and racist,

and beholden to the predatory special interests of major corporations. Sure,

he says he’s pro-choice, supposedly believes in limited gun control, and seems

to believe in educational reform. But he also seems to be developing the same

disturbing pattern of race-baiting that others before him have exhibited. In

fact, he is currently running an ad in California complaining that Indian Gaming

Tribes pay zero taxes. Why? They’re not supposed to.

But perhaps he’d

like to see their Sovereign status revoked? That would be in line with the intolerant

policies of other high-profile

republicans in California who have preceded him, and would undoubtedly galvanize

his conservative constituency. Besides, he endorses the death penalty and 3-strikes

laws too–laws that disproportionately affect poor minorities–and line the

pockets of the prison industrial complex, so don’t buy for a minute the "compassionate

conservative" description currently going around about him.

Do you really think

that, after Prop. 209, Prop. 187 and the introduction of Prop. 54, we’re supposed

to believe that republicans

represent the collective voice of the general public? It’s amazing how intolerant

the supposed majority becomes when the economy gets bad. The racism always comes

to the forefront, as cries of "they’re taking our jobs," and "we

need to close our borders" echo incessantly in the conversations of both

those who introduce this ignorance and those who are influenced by it. Jobs?

We’re taking their jobs? What planet are these people from? Most people I know

are going through it right now.

And speaking of

Proposition 54, how many of us really know what it is?

Proposition 54

would ban the collection of ethnic or racial data by any state or local agency,

or by any entity that receives state money. That would tie the hands of anyone

working to reverse decades of discrimination in housing, employment, or countless

other areas, and would transform education in California, making it illegal

to gather statistics that illustrate the achievement gap.

Without these statistics,

it will be harder to push for the kinds of programs – like preschool – that

can level the playing field. It would make it illegal for the government to

keep track of the ethnic makeup of its own employees.

This, of course,

like Prop. 209, would leave the door wide-open for discrimination, because it

would remove the ability of people to have access to ethnic or racial data at

all. This again puts America on the "honor system" with regards to

racial parity – a test that it continues to fail miserably when left unchecked.

Prop. 54 would

also have terrifying public health implications, making it virtually impossible

to do the kind of research that uncovers which ethnic groups are particularly

susceptible to certain diseases or illnesses – research that is instrumental

to public health campaigns and invaluable to physicians. This would put California

at a serious disadvantage when competing for research grants, many of which

require the consideration of racial and ethnic data.

Don’t complain

about politics and the media, become politics and the media. Speak out, and

let your voice be heard!

Why do these politicians

continue to favor policies and viewpoints that represent people opposed to us?

Because they VOTE, that’s why. Maybe if we voted more often (at all?) we’d have

somebody in office who represents our interests too.

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