During my most recent visit to the salon, my hairdresser and her assistant began preaching about the goodness of the Black savior, Obama. A full-out love fest. As all the women hummed, purred and shivered at the mere mention of his name, I bit my tongue and remained silent.
“Charlette!… Why are you so quiet? You are voting for Obama right?”
The orgasmic quivers stopped and all eyes turned to me. I took a deep breath and sighed. Hot combs paused in mid-air, dryers stopped their incessant whirring, perm sticks stopped just short of back of the neck “kitchens” and curling irons stopped their hissing.
I knew that if I spoke the truth, it was going to go bad for me. Very bad.
“Of course she is voting for him. Martin died so she could vote!” Heads nodded in agreement.
“You voting right?… cause EVERY vote counts”. The bobbing heads waited for my head to join the bob-fest.
Time to bring a revolution of the mind…
“No”, I said as forcefully as I could muster. “Every vote does NOT count and Martin’s assassination had nothing to do with it”.
I waited as every piece of oxygen in the room was grabbed up in a collective gasp, followed by whispered comments like “what the hell she say?”, “she crazy”, “damn fool” and “she don’t know shit”. I waited for the comments to subside.
My stylist and friend of over 15 years grabbed up my hair so tight, my edges felt like they were about to pop. “What do you mean?”
“Have you ever heard of the electoral college?” My question was met by blank stares.
“Do you understand how the popular vote works?”, I asked. Crickets.
“What the hell does this have to do with college?” someone asked, scoffing at me. “This here is the election!!”
“Wow”, I said. “Ok…allow me to tell you how voting really works”.
I waited until the scoffing died down and proceeded to break it down
“You see, I am registered to vote in New York. Which for all means and purposes is a “democratic leaning” state by 51% (with a 20% advantage). That means that regardless of whether I vote or not, the state I live in will vote “Blue”, and the democratic nominee will win the popular vote in New York. You know when they show the maps with red and blue colored states? Well, if you live in a red colored state, the popular vote will swing Republican, and if you live in a blue colored state the popular vote will be for the Democrats.
For this election that means Barack Obama gets the popular vote for NYC…whether I personally like it or not. Understand ladies..I am a registered independent by the way.
Now if we were having this conversation in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia or Wisconsin, then your statement about my vote “counting” might have a bit more merit. For those are the “swing” states; those places in middle America that could go either way because the state does not lean towards any party to win the popular vote.
But understand this…winning the “popular” vote does NOT decide the election. Your popular vote decides how many electoral votes your candidate MIGHT get from the party representative. Confused? Let me break it down to you a bit more.
Each state has a number of electoral votes assigned to it. To win a presidency one candidate must have 270 ELECTORAL votes from the electoral college. It’s not an actual school, but the name of a process. To decide which state gets the electoral delegates, each state holds an election. If a republican candidate wins the popular vote, the delegates of that state will be representatives from the republican party.
So lets look at that in practice. We are in New york, a blue state. On election day, the popular vote will go to Barack Obama, without question. By winning the popular vote, the 29 delegates chosen to vote in the electoral college will all be Democrat. These people have the option to cast their ballot for Barack.
Note : I said OPTION.
It is the electoral vote that wins the election. Not you or me. We basically participate in a popularity contest that the powers at be may or may not consider. We are basically giving advice, which they may or may not heed.
There is NO CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION OR LAW federal or otherwise that states the electoral delegates must vote by the will the people aka “the popular vote”. Think I’m lying? Gore won Florida..but the DELEGATES voted for Bush Jr. and disenfranchised millions of people who thought the will of the people would be heeded.
There are some states that have a “requirement” that the selected delegates vote along party lines, but 24 states hold no such requirement at all.
Scary right? yea.. you should be scared. Matter of fact you should be Mad.
You don’t elect your leaders, they are CHOSEN for you. It’s like a parent asking a kid what he/she wants for dinner and then deciding to serve the kid pork instead of the fish for which he/she asked. When questioned, the parent says “Don’t question me, this is my house and you will eat what I give you. This ain’t no democracy!”
So naw, son. My vote may or may not count. It all depends on where I live, who is “popular” and if the electoral delegate assigned to my state wants to listen to the people… or if they will follow the will of corporations that sit on their shoulders whispering promises of riches if they will just usurp the power of the people….again.
And why wouldn’t they? We as Americans have become weak-willed children. We allow our elections to be a sad popularity contest. We get caught up in fake debates and we don’t’ even understand the process.
Now I’m not saying you should or should not vote… but I do believe you should have CHOICE if you want to vote or not. No one died so you could vote! They died because they were trying to give you the CHOICE. Like any free-man. But we let it all go to waste. Hell most people think there are only 2 parties… and two candidates. There are MANY others…the independents, the green party…etc. People who represent the PEOPLE. But you never hear about them.
Why? Because the media we live on, the media that feeds us, is controlled by about 3 people with big ties to the 2 main parties. Why do you only know about 2 candidates? Why didn’t you do your research? and if you did, why did you scoff at them? Because they weren’t “packaged”? Because they weren’t on “Oprah”? Or was it cause Jay Z didn’t hold a fund-raiser for them? Maybe because they don’t have the backing of Clint Eastwood and his invisible chair or the Mormon Church?
We allowed our power, our voices, to be bought. We whimper when we should yell. We cower when we should fight. We hide when we need to be bold. We point fingers at each other instead of realizing our mistakes and correcting them. We crave slavery when people died for us to be free.
Ya’ll bitches need to either wake up or shut the hell up.”
After a brief silence, my stylist gave me the side-eye. “I’m gonna look into this…electoral college thing.” she said. “Cause this ain’t right if it’s true”.
Heads bobbed in agreement.
I smiled as smart phones and iPads where whipped out and the women focused on finding out for themselves the real deal about the election process.
A revolution of the mind began in a small salon in Harlem.