Voting rights against predatory capitalism

Black women leaders have worked on this issue of voting rights, calling for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, the Build Back Better Reconciliation Act and the DC Statehood.

Several leaders, including Melanie Campbell, CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, and Janice Mathis, Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, were arrested a few weeks ago. On November 16, women brought their energy to the Supreme Court, marching from the NCNW headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Court building.

It should be obvious that the same country that invades the countries of other people around human rights and the right to vote would offer the same rights to its own citizens. Predatory capitalism, however, makes the systematic obstruction of voting rights indispensable for those who want to extract every penny of surplus value from other citizens. How else to explain the resistance to the management of drug prices, to the increase in the minimum wage or to the blocking of the right to vote?

The big money political game makes it easy for companies with deep pockets to buy a senator to protect their interests. Grassroots efforts, like the efforts of the NCNW / NCBPC (with many allies), are less well funded than some of these Senators, and they may be less influential. Conscientious Republicans surely know that voting is an essential right, however, too many of them want to win at all costs, shunning fairness for power.

It’s like a chicken and egg story. Republicans (yes, let’s call it what it is) want to suppress the vote so they can continue to get elected. Once elected, they continue to manipulate the system with gerrymandering aimed at minimizing the electoral influence of those who oppose the predatory capitalist program. This includes Blacks, Chicanos / Latinas, American Indians, the elderly, and those who live in downtown areas. These voters, to be sure, are not monolithic, but voters of color are treated monolithically and sidelined in the same way. Voting rights legislation could be passed, but for filibuster.

So why can’t we eliminate the filibuster? Some Democrats want to embrace the traditions of the past, even if those traditions allow the minority to flout the majority. President Biden, whose legislation has been blocked by filibuster, has only recently shown some willingness to get rid of filibuster in some cases. He should have spoken earlier and louder. Although more than 60% of Americans support the Build Back Better legislation, only two recalcitrant senators managed to delay the vote. Now, as we head into the holiday season, the window to pass this bill is closing. In my opinion, neither the House nor the Senate deserves to be absent until the right to vote is passed.

Too many of us seem to forget that we are the BOSS, not the serfs, of these members of the House and Senate. We can put them on the sidewalk just as hard as they kicked us. We have powerful black women leaders urging us to take back our power, rejecting incumbents who do not have our best interests at heart. Our job, our serious job, is to vet these holders and send them home when necessary.

We don’t do that. We tend to re-elect the incumbents because we are used to them, because we feel close to them, because they went to our schools, because they made a town hall, because they are sympathetic and friendly. As lovable as some of them are, if they do not support economic justice, they are a waste of space. They occupy an elected seat that someone else could better use to serve the people.

The right to vote and economic justice are inextricably linked. We will not get fair wages, good labor laws, cancellation of student loans, child care or more progressive economic legislation until we have the right to vote, because there are those that would offer rights like treats on a plate of snacks, treats that they can easily take back. It is absurd that a nation that boasts of democracy does not provide it to too many of its citizens.

Republicans are shameless in their seizure of power. We must be aggressive in our resistance. We cannot have economic justice without the right to vote. Well done to black women who fight for our rights.

Julienne Malveaux

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