If We Ever Needed To Vote, We ALL Need To Vote in 2018
As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah (God) Be Upon You
We have been in an election season, it seems-- since the dawn of the current federal administration arriving in Washington in January 2017. We, the American people and everyone else in the world paying attention, have found out a lot since then about how America has an ugly underbelly. It was always there, some have admitted, but rational thought prevailed as decades brought about changes in laws that attempted to equalize some of America's most heinous discriminatory practices of the past.
Elections were typical elections until the year 2000, so far as we knew limited to new reports. Since the start of the new century, social media exploded exposing aspects of society we only speculated about or knew as segmented parts of America and different parts of the world. While the looming threat in 1999 was about "Y2K" and how the nation's and global computer systems might fail, instead America found itself beset with an election that did not end for more than a month. It was abruptly thrown into chaos via televised news announcements on November 8th with conflicting outcomes about votes cast in Florida, first naming Gore the winner and then Bush (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/08/us/the-2000-elections-the-media-a-flawed-call-adds-to-high-drama.html). After much everyday drama including the involvement of the Supreme Court ruling to stop a recount underway, the winner and new President George W. Bush of Texas was announced by Vice President Al Gore while presiding over a joint session of Congress. Bush actually won by some flawed "chads" (chads are punched out pieces of paper ballots used to select candidates) in the state of Florida, governed at the time by his brother Jeb Bush via decisions made within its state Board of Elections. In Florida, some of the chads were hanging, weren't completely punched; some were not punched at all, etc. It was a mess of huge proportions. All voting, with few exceptions, now occurs via electronic vote scanning. With the cybersecurity issues of the 2016 election, there is talk about bringing back traceable paper ballots.
In the 2014 mid-term election, as depicted in the above graphic, voter turnout was lower than both the 2008 and 2012 presidential election. It was also lower than the 2010 midterm election that resulted in Democrats, in President Obama's first term of office, losing the leadership of the House of Representatives. In 2018, we will need to show up in numbers close to those in recent presidential elections to be part of the solution and not sustain the problem that has become the Trump presidency and GOP control of both legislative houses (they have led the Senate too, since the 2014 election). This coming election cannot be like mid-term elections in the past. America cannot afford it to be or America may become forever unrecognizable! Around the world, people and nations are wondering and asking 'what is the matter with America?' Is America still a democracy, some are asking? (see: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/03/america-is-not-a-democracy/550931/
In 2018, we find ourselves with not just voting and election related issues but voting rights issues; Supreme Court issues; distractions and scandals the likes of which have never presented before, publicly at least, within the Office of the Presidency and the federal government. To make matters worse, Presidential cabinet office members, some assert, are as unqualified as is the President who never worked in public service, governed anything or had any employment outside of with his immediate family. Confidence in Congress and the government are at near all time historic lows (see: http://www.people-press.org/2017/12/14/public-trust-in-government-1958-2017/). We think we know how we feel largely based upon what we hear from the current administration and it's representatives yet issues have become monumentally confusing e.g., as stated by Trump: "what you are seeing and hearing is not what is happening," and by his representative lawyer Rudolph Giuliani: "the truth is not the truth." We're caught up in the drama of political scandals that may delegitimize the present office holder if "collusion" and/or "obstruction of government" are findings of the FBI investigation underway led by Robert Mueller II. Or, these may be distractions so Americans are not paying attention to how the current administration is rolling back environmental protection laws, filling hundreds of held over federal court judge appointments and giving more money away to the wealthiest Americans. Yet, Trump's popularity has not declined much at all one episode after the other. When first entering the office, Trump told his top aides to "think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals" (see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/us/politics/donald-trump-president.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top-stories). Correction: having been a television reality show character is the other employment Trump held outside of working with his family. He was the so-called star of the "The Apprentice" (and now he is one). Has anyone challenged him at all to understand that governing is not TV? This is real life for all Americans and not just the Trump "base" he caters to and we keep hearing about.
It is reported that somewhere between 35-41 percent of Americans still find Trump favorable-- about the same approval rating he had entering office. It appears to not matter what Trump does or has not done. Then again, there were polls that Hillary Clinton was going to win the 2016 election. Then again, people may not want to be honest about their political leanings for a variety of reasons, one of which may be that there is an obvious dishonest leader in the White House who threatens people. Then again, we may just need to acknowledge that America is very polarized currently. Trump has brought out the worst influences in some people. It is hard for some to know what to believe. Whichever way one looks at it, these are indicators that do not bode well for significant voter turnout for the 2018 mid-term election. Yet, COME OUT we must for the change some of us are hoping will get America out of the mess it is in. Some of us are praying for change as it relates to our children's future. Seriously.
THIS mid-term election is a referendum about the Trump presidency. The outcome is being pointed out, should the Democrats gain the House back, as the one means by which to potentially impeach Trump or at least stop him from more ruinous behavior. The GOP leadership in the House and Senate has been hands-off, failing to prevent Trump from promoting havoc domestically and around the rest of the world. This is why voting in this election is so very important! There is an opportunity, given a disapproval rating of Trump that has been above 50% consistently, to gain seats in the House of Representatives and the possibility, though small of gaining more democratic seats in the Senate. This is not an election to sit at home and think others will take care of it-- nor that it will be okay without your vote. Every vote will count!!!!!
It's also accurate to say that the 2018 election is about change and not all about Trump. Without character and claimed by many to be a "pathological liar," Trump has not learned any presidential decorum since taking office. He does not discern that he is representing the United States and the American people. Trump takes no responsibility for his actions. Obama has since been blamed for everything that Trump, as President, can't get right-- which means just about everything. It appears that he is obsessed with Obama. If you think Obama is not sorely missed, you'd be wrong. Obama still beats Trump in every category of popularity and presidential standing, handily. It has been refreshing to hear President Obama this past week encouraging Americans to stand up for American values. If we could get a do-over of 2016, the 2018 mid-term election is as close to it as we will get. As President Obama stated recently, now that he has come onto the mid-term election campaign trail to encourage Democrats to vote given the significant plunder and detriment the nation has fallen into under the Trump administration, "don't ask him what he is going to do about voting, ask yourself what are YOU going to do about voting!" If we connect the negative impact of the last two years appreciating that this election is about changing the direction of the nation much like in a Presidential election, we will act willfully for the change we know is needed. There is too much at stake to continue down the same swampy path as the last two years.
As is stated with greater frequency in the media, it appears the US is now on the brink of a constitutional crisis. Trump, in turn has labeled the media as "enemies of the state." More are now communicating that the current President is "unfit" for office. Hillary Clinton shared this observation in a 2016 presidential debate when she said that Trump was "temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility" (see: https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-foreign-policy-speech/index.html). No one could say that Clinton did not know what the responsibilities of the office were since she had been First Lady for two terms when her husband Bill was in the office. The whispers are starting to become louder spoken words from many more Americans including some that voted for Trump. He was spoken of as being "crazy" (on a hot mic) by Senator Jack Reed in a conversation with Senator Susan Collins in July of 2017. What we are hearing recently from Omarosa calling Trump "unhinged" and Bob Woodward referring to Trump as using "fear" to motivate his base and divide the nation, as well of Trump being "dangerous" among others revelations is not new. These concerns are being verified by administration officials and GOP representatives. With Trump and the GOP looking to shape the US Supreme Court with ultra conservative GOP nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the convergence of political drama and dangerous behavior being monitored by those around Trump make for a conspicuous time in US presidential history.
What enough people with voices that can go viral have not said loudly and often enough is that "enough is enough!" Americans have in the last year watched children become illegally separated from their parents because they were defined as collateral with their parents to blame as families sought safety from violence in Mexico. They will be scarred by the experience for the rest of their lives. More than 300 children are still currently separated from their parents. We've watched violence in Charlottesville from Neo-Nazi adherents and/or sympathizers and white supremacist organizations that Trump equated as "fine people on the other side." The resulting death of Heather Heyer, protesting against racist demonstrators, is on Trump's long list of harmed, in this case death, of individuals that have become other victims of Trump's amoral leadership. Foreign policy is in disarray. The absence of America speaking out against human injustices in Yemen, China, Egypt, Gaza and Myanmar as well as so many other parts of the world, reflects a lack of moral leadership. Under Trump, America is the largest arms dealer in the world and now boasts about it. The myopic, hegemonic behavior of US representation at the United Nations since the arrival of "we're taking names" Nikki Haley is a disaster on the world stage. Is this the kind of change Americans want to sustain? It is up to the people now, to use their vote like our lives depend upon it. Truth is, its not just our lives... There has recently been talk of the use of the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office as "unfit" to be President. It is important to know that "impeaching" Trump will not remove him from office.
We are now just under two months away from what is one of the most, if not THE most important mid-term election in the history of this country! Since last year, the South East Queens Muslim Collective (SEQMC) started studying the impact of Trump's political decisions, the impasses in Congress and policy issues impacting our communities. Since April of 2018, SEQMC has been actively providing voter education and conducting voter registration. In July, we launched the Vote! Your Life Depends Upon It! engagement reaching out to community residents everywhere we can. We have engaged hundreds of prospective eligible voters and many ineligible voters i.e., non-citizens who wish they could vote. We have experienced positive responses as well as having been ignored when engaging individuals in person. We are speaking to people already registered to ascertain their commitment to actually go to the polls and vote on November 6th. We are convinced that voter turnout on election day has to be as HIGH as possible i.e., as if our very LIVES depended upon showing up at the voting booth! For those who may lack a rational for why they should vote, we have identified at least ten (10) major reasons why we MUST vote on November 6th (see: https://seqmc1.wixsite.com/home/single-post/2018/08/05/VOTE-Your-Life-Depends-On-It)
At SEQMC's Voter Education/Registration event held in April, titled Take Nothing for Granted in 2018, we featured a video presentation by the Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, who is the President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach as well as Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) located in Goldsboro, NC. He is also President of the N.C. Conference of 100 adult, youth and student NAACP branches in the largest State Conference in the South; Architect of the Moral Monday-Forward Together Movement, Convener of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) and Coalition Chair of the Political Action Committee of the National NAACP Board. In 2017, Rev. Barber established the resurgent Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (see: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/) following in the footprints of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was brutally killed months before its major March on Washington planned for the summer of 1968 (after Rev. King's death in April, his wife Coretta Scott King attended the march that occurred as planned). The video "If We Ever Needed To Vote, We Sure Need to Vote NOW!" had been developed to stimulate voter turnout for the 2012 re-election of President Barack Obama. Six years later, Rev. Barber's words, historical perspective and call to action is just as critical now as it was then. No, it is more important: the outcome of this election will have implications for the next two years as well as the lead up to the 2020 election. We encourage you to watch the video, claim its call to action, tell others about the critical need to participate in this year's mid-term election, point them in the direction of a voter registration form, here: http://vote.nyc.ny.us/html/voters/voters.shtml if not registered and/or if already registered obtain their commitment to vote without fail on November 6th! Please also pass information of this blog post on to your friends and contacts!
Please use this link to access Rev. Barber's video: If We Ever Needed To Vote!
In addition to Rev. Barber's call to action, Heather McGhee, Director of DEMOS a public policy organization that works on social, economic and political equity issues, created a short video that speaks to what is possible if (when) the number of voters increases and everybody is able to vote. She outlines how critical issues would be impacted if everyone who could vote-- and did vote.
Please use this link to view the video presentation: What If Everyone Voted?
The time frame in which to register to vote continues through October 12, 2018 the LAST day in which the voter registration form can be postmarked for the mid-term election. Address changes also need to be reflected on new registration forms by this date.
SEQMC intends to keep up our efforts educating and encouraging everyone who is eligible to vote to REGISTER to vote and on November 6, 2018 insha'Allah (God Willing) performing one of the most important civic duties/responsibilities one has: WHICH IS TO VOTE!
We plan to keep you posted with updates between now and the election, insha'Allah. If you would like to help in any of these efforts, please do not hesitate to contact SEQMC at 718-663-4644 or email us at email@example.com
May Allah (God) continue to reward our good endeavors!