On the limits of “Just Register”  “Just Vote”

Just vote

The young people’s fledgling movement led by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fl, to restore sanity to the US by pushing for and demanding gun control has been accompanied by calls (Democratic Party GOTV front groups) to register to vote. But voting in and of itself, that is voting without a platform based on the needs and wants of a constituency, is meaningless.

“These kids are getting something that a lot of adults tend to miss — that change starts with voting,” said Andy Bernstein, executive director of one of the front groups Headcount.org, a non-profit, (supposedly) nonpartisan organization that registers voters at concerts.

But Bernstein is a bad student of history; change has always started with people in the streets. Research of any of the well-known Movements in the US and elsewhere and it will reveal that they all began with people in the streets not unlike what the students fighting for gun control are doing.

The call to “just vote” and the push to register folks to vote is nothing new, the Democrats did the same thing, recently with the Women’s March, which incidentally didn’t raise any real demands on those in power. In fact in some places, the demand was “Hear Our Voice, Hear Our Vote,” whatever that means.


“The Movement For Black Lives” (an offshoot of BLM radical activism) “Electoral Justice Project,” has been setting up voter registration booths outside the showings of “Black Panther,” under the theme “Wakanda the Vote.”  “We want to take every opportunity to engage our communities in the conversation of electoral justice,” the organizers said in an interview recently.


Strangely, while registering people to vote and calling for electoral justice, the project does not suggest a clear platform that Black folks could vote for, nor does it call for more independent political organizing. If one didn’t know any better one might assume that it was just another front for the “same old same old,” that is getting Black voters to vote Democrat. And of course just voting Democrat has not proven to be the way forward for Black folks, or any other group of working and oppressed folks in the US.

And it’s not clear how “just voting” and “Black Panther” are connected, especially since many Black middle class reviews of the movie called it revolutionary. Nowhere in the movie did it entertain the notion that real change was going to be wrought through the voting booth. Killmonger may not have been the man for the task, since he had been so thoroughly corrupted by what he was trying to fight, but he had the right idea. Empires don’t come down by voting.

In actuality the call to vote is simply another way the present system seeks to put water on fires that arise as a result of injustices, that are so severe they can no longer be swept under the rug. It’s how they dial back the anti-establishment and radical impulses of the young people, while trying to skim off and recruit the most advanced and passionate of them.

Voting, that is just voting, is just another tool in the “Master’s” bag of tricks.

However, if the call to vote was accompanied by an effort to organize a radical congress or convention in which all of those in this society with a legitimate beef, that is Black folks, POC, working class Whites, poor folks, women, immigrants, queer and transgender and Muslims come together and develop a platform for which to vote that would make sense.

All over the US the worst cases of police violence occurred in cities that were led and controlled by the Democratic Party. Democratic Party  leader and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, has one of the worst records in the country in the area of school closings and police violence and has done little to stem the flow of guns, which has to the violence, which has earned Chicago the moniker “Chiraq.”

Some may argue that the Democrats have historically been more progressive than Republicans, but that would depend on the historical epoch. It was the Radical Republican legislators (many who had been staunch abolitionists), who led the movement to give rights to the newly freed human beings following slavery. It was the Democrats that aided in their re-enslavement in the form of Jim Crow segregation and the Black Codes.

Black folks during the Reconstruction did not just vote. “During the first two years of Reconstruction, blacks organized Equal Rights Leagues throughout the South and held state and local conventions to protest discriminatory treatment and demand suffrage, as well as equality before the law.”

As this excerpt from History.com asserts, freed Blacks were organizing around their issues and then gave support to the candidate and the party best able to carry out their political platform. They didn’t “just vote”!

The demand during the “Freedom Movement” was self –determination, that is the ability to determine and control their own destiny and the politics of their respective locale. The vote was simply a means to accomplish that end. They didn’t fight and die just to pull a lever for one fool over another.

It was Republicans, not the Democrat, that made possible the passing of the infamous Civil Rights Act of 1964. (look it up)

Rather than “just vote,” the demand should be “throw them out” as the young people responded to the bi partisan Florida legislative refusal to ban assault rifles recently.  And after throwing them out, we should replace them with people and a system that is truly, of, by and for the people!

justice then peace

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