Defying Voter Suppression

Long Lines 2

 

 

 

My heart sang and my spirit soared when, on Super Tuesday, the media covered stories about the long lines at polling places.

It’s called voter suppression, and black people have had to deal with it for some time. In the absence of poll taxes, literacy tests, and things like reciting the Constitution from memory and/or being asked how many jelly beans are in a huge jar, more sophisticated methods of voter suppression have become more and more common.

Voting officials say – and have always said – that long lines “are due to a number of factors,” but part of the reason for the long lines is the lack of working voting machines or too few machines for the number of people expected to vote.

Rep. Stacey Abrams, who ran for governor of Georgia, points the ways that voter suppression is practiced in this country. Her video, “Fair Fight,” does an excellent job of showing all of the tactics used in Georgia – and presumably in other states – to keep people from voting. (https://www.npr.org/2020/02/20/807665148/stacey-abrams-spearheads-campaign-against-voter-suppression) (https://www.bravenewfilms.org/suppressed)

Among the tactics highlighted are long lines, most of which are found in black and brown neighborhoods. People in those neighborhoods have typically stood in line for hours, sometimes for so long that they give up. They have to go home to get medicine or leave to pick up children, or …go to work, because if they miss a day of work they do not get paid.

In addition, with the closing of polling places, the long lines become even more problematic, because people are forced to travel increased distances, out of their neighborhoods, making them have to take into consideration to and from the voting booths in addition to trying to get their children to daycare and then get themselves to work.

But black and brown people are tired of being walked over and being denied the right to vote by such tactics. A friend of mine wrote that black people are “used” to this type of voter suppression, and are advised to take folding chairs, sunscreen, pack lunches and their medicine, and whatever else they need to do in order to cast their ballots. A man who works two jobs who on Tuesday stood in line for 7 hours, said he wasn’t going to leave, in spite of the long wait. (https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/politics/election-2020/2020/03/04/362610/its-worth-it-the-last-person-in-line-at-tsu-waited-six-hours-to-vote-on-super-tuesday/) (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/03/04/super-tuesday-texas-man-waits-six-hours-vote/4952084002/)

The reports that long lines were experienced in white neighborhoods are significant; whenever black and brown people experience a shortcoming of democracy, the reaction of the public is generally lukewarm, but when white people experience the same situation, there is considerable more outcry. Such was the case, it seems, on Tuesday. (https://www.propublica.org/article/these-voters-had-to-wait-for-hours-it-felt-like-a-type-of-disenfranchisement)

The efforts to keep people who typically vote Democratic are only going to increase. Studies have shown that people classified as “minority,” be that in reference to gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and more, tend to vote Democratic. Efforts are made to keep them out of the process, in defiance of the 15th Amendment, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Lawmakers who say that this a country of the rule of law fail to mention that what they mean is that “the law” matters as long as it does not threaten their power. In the quest for achieving or keeping power, “the law” means little.

But that reality should not stop black and brown people, and others who vote Democratic, to step up their defiance of voter suppression tactics. It’s almost like people have to have a “voting preparedness” regiment set up, as a country should have an “emergency preparedness” program in place to deal with unexpected disasters. Being prepared is a smart move, something necessary, it seems, to fight amoral, immoral, and unjust tactics to keep people from voting.

So, we in our neighborhoods should talk about what we may face and get ready, because all elections matter, but the fall elections matter perhaps more than they have in a while. On the local and national level, it will be voters who protect the rights and interests of people who too many people seem not to care about.

A candid observation …

 

Why a Crazy Faith Can Beat Trump

It is the day after “Super Tuesday” and Donald Trump has come out victorious, as he promised he would.

Many people who laughed at his candidacy, saying he couldn’t win, are worried. The GOP, it seems, is worried. Trump has said all along that he will win. He has drummed those words into the minds, hearts and souls of people in his base who are angry and who feel marginalized. He has made them believe that they can and will win, no matter what the naysayers say, or who they are.

He has replaced their despondency with hope. And hope wins, every time.

It was hope in “change we can believe in” that pushed President Barack Obama into the White House. Back then, the biggest change we were being asked to believe in was that a racist white nation could elect a black man to the presidency. We believed, and we won. Not even racism was an effective weapon against genuine hope, filled with something called “crazy faith,” a faith that says the impossible …is not impossible. at all.

In my book, Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives, I share one of my most favorite stories in the Bible: that of Moses holding, really, a “stick” (the Bible calls it a rod) over the Sea of Reeds, expecting the water to part. God knows the people whom he was leading through, out of, the wilderness, thought he was crazy. They looked at what seemed impossible, and most probably chided Moses for being so stupid.

But Moses held on, and, I imagine, in Trump fashion, kept saying to the naysayers, “the waters will part.” We don’t know how long he stood there. We don’t know how much of a beating he took from “rational” friends who most probably put him down. But we do know that according to the story, the Sea of Reeds did part. The waters parted, the ground on which the Israelites were to walk was dry (where water had been only moments before) and the Israelites got through to the other side. The waters came back together in time to drown the Egyptians, who were after them, to kill them.

Crazy faith got the Israelites through the Sea of Reeds.

I would imagine that Moses had to keep on saying to himself, and then to them, in Trump fashion, “We can do this! We can win. We can beat even this body of water that is here to keep us from moving forward to liberation.” Moses had to make himself believe it so that he could make the Israelites believe it.

Donald Trump is saying to people who believe they have been ignored that they can turn the tide, that they can win, that they can “make America great again.”

What non-Trump supporters have to do is get their message straight, believe it to their cores, and keep on saying it until people believe it.

Donald Trump is not God.

Donald Trump is a very smart man, who knows how to manipulate people and the media for his own good. He does in fact know how to broker a deal.

But he is not God. His power is not absolute. People who do not want him to be president have to adopt a message, keep it, internalize it, believe it, and, with crazy faith in place to keep their hope alive, participate in this system of government which at least hypothetically leaves room for the voices of people to be heard.

At this point, on the non-Trump side, this is a crazy faith battle. There is no time to sit and call Trump names or put him down. That is counter-productive anyway. It is time to get strategic, and to get a mantra in place that will woo doubters to the edge of the Sea of Reeds, believing that the water will part.

Crazy faith is always accompanied by an action, and this is critical. Those who are willing to believe that Donald Trump is not God must be willing to participate in the process to get through the Sea. People will have to work, have to register people, have to make sure people get to the polls. Sitting back is not an option. Moses held the “stick” over the water, but people in the wilderness, confused and afraid, had to decide to participate in the crossing over or there would have been no miracle.

There is no time to be afraid, despondent or discouraged.

Donald Trump has launched a perfect time for the exercise of crazy faith. It is by and through crazy faith, and not by sophisticated political discourse and debate, that Donald Trump can be stopped.

Donald Trump is not God. A faith that defies hopelessness is greater than any obstacle er face.

The power to beat him is in the people, a people filled with fire and this thing called crazy faith. It is that faith which gives us our power.

A candid observation …

 

(Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is the founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, and is available to speak on this topic and topics related to the intersection of politics and religion. See the website, http://www.crazyfaithministries.org for information)

And crazy faith