Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dubois - A Man Way Ahead Of His Time


A Must Read

Dubois seemed to be half a Century ahead of his time when he wrote the following 1956 commentary about the state of politics in this Country. Dubois, an outspoken Independent, wrote about the lack of political choice and problems of corruption. Many of his comments could apply to what is going on today... we largely have the same problems. The concerns & frustrations that he expressed back then are some of the same concerns & frustrations that I often mention here. Like me, Dubois saw the problems with foreign policy, and also understood that foreign policy was connected with domestic policy.

I found this commentary only recently, but was intrigued by how relevant it was and how much I was in agreement, although it was written over 51 years ago. The commentary, Published in the Nation Magazine, was titled "I Won't Vote". It's almost as if he could have written this in 2007.


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Preface from The Nation.com

In the October 20, 1956, issue, W. E. B. Du Bois delivers this eloquent indictment of US politics while explaining to Nation readers why he won't vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Du Bois condemns both Democrats and Republicans for their indifferent positions on the influence of corporate wealth, racial inequality, arms proliferation (war) and unaffordable health care.

I Won't Vote


Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates' attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt's attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Retired "for age" in 1944, I returned to the North and found a party to my liking. In 1948, I voted the Progressive ticket for Henry Wallace and in 1952 for Vincent Hallinan.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no "two evils" exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a "Socialist" Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by "force and violence." Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called "Communist" and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.'s and "Liberals" are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. Our crime, especially juvenile crime, is increasing. Its increase is perfectly logical; for a generation we have been teaching our youth to kill, destroy, steal and rape in war; what can we expect in peace? We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is "legal" we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal. If the theft is "illegal" the thief can fight it out in court, with excellent chances to win if he receives the accolade of the right newspapers. Gambling in home, church and on the stock market is increasing and all prices are rising. It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.

The "other" party has surrendered all party differences in foreign affairs, and foreign affairs are our most important affairs today and take most of our taxes. Even in domestic affairs how does Stevenson differ from Eisenhower? He uses better English than Dulles, thank God! He has a sly humor, where Eisenhower has none. Beyond this Stevenson stands on the race question in the South not far from where his godfather Adlai stood sixty-three years ago, which reconciles him to the South. He has no clear policy on war or preparation for war; on water and flood control; on reduction of taxation; on the welfare state. He wavers on civil rights and his party blocked civil rights in the Senate until Douglas of Illinois admitted that the Democratic Senate would and could stop even the right of Senators to vote. Douglas had a right to complain. Three million voters sent him to the Senate to speak for them. His voice was drowned and his vote nullified by Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was elected by 151,000 voters. This is the democracy in the United States which we peddle abroad.

Negroes hope to muster 400,000 votes in 1956. Where will they cast them? What have the Republicans done to enforce the education decision of the Supreme Court? What they advertised as fair employment was exactly nothing, and Nixon was just the man to explain it. What has the Administration done to rescue Negro workers, the most impoverished group in the nation, half of whom receive less than half the median wage of the nation, while the nation sends billions abroad to protect oil investments and help employ slave labor in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesias? Very well, and will the party of Talmadge, Eastland and Ellender do better than the Republicans if the Negroes return them to office?

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union "to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience." Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only "review" of literature has wisely dropped "literature" from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich--to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let's vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

5 comments:

Temple3 said...

I've felt that way ever since I was old enough to vote. That's why Black folks who track national elections and go on and on about national politics are so interesting to me - whether they're Democrats or Republicans. I always hope they're being paid handsomely because they can't have a clue or be serious. It's more of that "middle man hustle." Armstrong Williams is Al Sharpton is LaShawn Barber is Jesse Jackson...it's all the same game and it's all the same nonsense. Any 5 year-old with a calculator should be able to do the math and figure this out - sans pundits and politicos.

Constructive Feedback said...

Angry:

Is this REALLY an accurate depiction of the average Black voter today? You see - despite the current antipathy for Hillary Clinton expressed by some right now - in less than one year's time these same folks will be voting for their party and thus the oft heard claim "the lesser of two evils".

Let me be clear - it is NOT the fact that Black people vote in majority for the Democrats. With respect to our average economic status this is a quite logical choice - the "pro-labor" party if you will. No the problem is that too many Black people vote for the Democrats in the context of their own RACIAL PROGRESSION. More than WEB DuBois' views are the words of Bayard Ruskin in shaping the modern day political machine that controls Black America today. After MLK Jr's death Mr. Ruskin and the rest of the civil rights luminaries convened and decided that the best means of obtaining certain benefits and resources WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY was to get 1) Black people, 2) elected, 3) as Democrats 4) in seats of power from local to federal.

Do you see the RACIAL ADVANCEMENT tie in that was created?

Any rational analysis would say that the front end tasks have been successfully executed. There has NEVER been more Black elected official presiding over our communities throughout the nation. There has never been a slate of people elected BY OUR OWN CHOOSING (aka Democrats).

Despite this fact - the back end BENEFITS that were supposed to be delivered as a result of this plan has fallen very short for far, far too many Black Americans.

I say that the key difference between the words of WEB DuBois from the 1950's and today is that we are talking 400,000 Black votes THEN with probably 3 times that amount being SUPPRESSED via White Racist tactics and thus the WILL OF BLACK PEOPLE are not fully expressed. Compare that to today in which 40 million Black people who represent about 18 million votes DO INDEED vote in their own choosing and, despite receiving the goods - we CONTINUE to do the same.

Now of course many of you believe that "Anti-Democrat" = "Pro-Republican". I hope to squash that theory. First I have yet to find anyone who can tell me which political party the Asians who are increasing their hold over urban retail favor in the elections. It seems to me that they don't care - as long as their primary interests are not abridged.

At what point do you stop this foolishness over "The lesser of two evils" and realize that the "lesser evil", injected under your skin like botox has paralyzed our SELF-INITIATIVE as a race? When does "Why I won't vote for the Republicans' change into a more AFFIRMATIVE inspection of "WHY AM I CONTINUOUSLY DOING WHAT I KEEP DOING AGAIN?".

The word "Sellout" has been applied to those Blacks who have strayed from the beaten path of POPULAR Black political thought. I wish to redefine this term. By far today the more PROPORTIONALLY larger "Sell Out" is the "DEMOCRAT WHO IS BLACK" (as opposed to the "Black Democrat"). Despite realizing that much of what WEB DuBois statements in this passage as being true - he is unable to decouple his vicarious living through Democratic electoral victory from THE ACTUAL BENEFITS that he receives back at home.

(Did you all see the Orlando Sentinel the other day? It seems that 2 WHITE DEMOCRAT U.S. Representatives, one of them a freshman, have brought more money home into their districts than LONG TIME CONGRESSMAN Alsie Hastings.

But of course I am the Black guy who is off of his rocker - what do I know???
)

Constructive Feedback said...

Here is the article:

Minorities lagging in pork-barrel spending
Leaders say the reason some districts get less cash is that their elections aren't as tight.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-earmark2007nov20,0,5523620.story?page=2


Now let's see - IF the ultimate goal is MORE MONEY INTO THE BLACK DISTRICT then the LOGICAL course of action is to - make a competitive race for the INCUMBENT so that he will be driven TO BRING HOME THE BACON for his district.

OF COURSE - as the article implicitly states - since these Black Democrats often run UNCHALLENGED (Hastings, Conyers, Lewis, etc) the money goes elsewhere - thus the recourse of the "DEMOCRAT WHO IS BLACK" is to get more Blacks on the appropriations committee. Fine - they are Democrats.

Question - what should be the view of BLACK PEOPLE considering that the reality is - this is a dual partisan political system we live in? Hummmm. Nah - we'll just stay put with the money we get.

Greg Jones said...

Is Al Sharpton Sabotaging Barack Obama's Campaign ?
Is Black America Letting Him ?
By Greg 'Peace Song' Jones

The year is 2007. America is being barraged with racial injustices ranging from the Jena 6 case, hangman nooses everywhere, inner-city education collapsing, economic disparity, health care unavailable for millions, injustice in our legal system resulting in prisons filled with black americans.... just to name a few. I regularly listen to talk radio ranging from Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Laura Ingraham on the Conservative side. I also listen to black radio including Warren Ballentine and Al Sharpton. I'm thankful that Cathy Hughes has created the opportunity through her powerful Radio One Network to allow the Black American voice to be heard. Black radio has been very instrumental in exposing the injustices to Blacks that are occuring in America and has given black listeners and callers the opportunity to express their feelings of disempowerment.

Al Sharpton is a considered to be a warrior who points out and addresses injustice toward blacks. He is a powerful watchdog and the black community knows that if we're done wrong in the legal system we can call Rev. Al and he'll be there. Without him there's no telling how bad things would be. Because of his voice and ability to address injustice, we blacks have 'declared' him to be 'a', if not 'the' leader of the black community. He, along with others recently led two powerful marches that definitely attracted attention to the cause as well as redeveloping unity among blacks. That is powerful.

BUT....I can not express how much it saddens me to watch Al Sharpton's lack of support for a presidential candidate who is qualified, credible, highly intelligent, gifted, caring, heavily supported....who happens to be Black. It was recently announced that Barack Obama is leading in the Iowa polls with a 3% lead over Hillary Clinton. That is incredibly historic......a black man leading in the polls in Iowa !!! That means that caring, politically savvy whites feel that Barack Obama is the best choice to run America. Do you know how powerful that is? But does Al Sharpton rally the black community to support Obama? Not at all. Instead, he claims that he is not endorsing anyone 'yet', (although the primaries start in less than 40 days) but simultaneously makes inuendo that he is against Obama. Now let's look at the facts. Al Sharpton has gone before the Congress to state the injustice occuring in black communities. He recently led the march on Washington against the Justice Department. These actions prove that Al Sharpton is aware of the fact that true change in the federal laws are inacted by the President of the United States. From the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voters Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, even the Immancipation Proclamation, all of these federal laws were passed by the President. That's how it works! So does Al Sharpton think that he can march in Washington and that George Bush will look out the window and say 'Ohhhh....there's Al....Hey Dick...we need to do more for black people!' It will never happen....simple as that. So if you can't change the mind of the person at the top.....then you change the person at the top.

Rev. Al proves through his march that the power of change rests in Washington D.C. but, for some strange reason, he refuses to support, invigorate or even acknowledge the vital importance of electing a man into the Oval Office who will be responsive to the needs of ALL Americans....of course, including the issues related to Black America. Now, we as black people know that there have been blacks put into powerful positions who have turned their backs on the black community. Condoleeza Rice and Clarence Thomas...just to name a couple. We also know that Barack Obama is no Condoleeza Rice. We know that Barack Obama is highly intelligent, capable, qualified, honest, harmonious, caring of all Americans including blacks (Obama was a civil rights attorney and advocate in Chicago) and an excellent choice to run our country.

But Rev. Al wants to talk about Obama's lack of experience (although he has the exact same amount of experience that Abe Lincoln had and Lincoln is considered one of the greatest Presidents of all time), not to mention Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson both ran for President with absolutely zero political experience, but never stated that they were far from qualified. Sharpton constantly rants that Obama does not address Black issues which is outright false. Sharpton even spoke negatively about Obama not discussing black issues in a recent debate....not admitting that the questioners never asked any questions regarding black issues. In fact, Obama recently appeared on the Rev. Al radio show and for some reason the Reverend chose not to ask Obama any views on black issues. Interesting. Some so called 'leaders' say Obama is not 'black enough'. Which of the other (white) candidates ARE black enough? And why is Hillary getting so much black support if being 'black enough' is so important? That's just crazy ! To top things off Al Sharpton has openly stated on his radio show that he is not supporting Barack Obama because, as Rev. Al puts it....' He didn't support me when I was running !' (As stated to an Obama supporter who called in on Wednesday, November 21 @ 3:48 eastern) That's so sad.

Does Al Sharpton want to stagnate the black community intentionally so that he remains the 'Head Negro In Charge'? The other day I called the Al Sharpton radio show to say how proud I am that Obama is leading in the Iowa polls. At that time, Sharpton's fill-in host, Mr. Charlie King had a guest on who had been the campaign chairman for Jesse Jackson's Presidential campaign in South Carolina. (By the way Rev. Jackson claims to support Obama but you'd never know it) Instead of this black man, who Charlie King called a political expert, stating how historic it is that a black man is leading in Iowa for the first time in American history....this man minimized this great achievement by pointing out that Obama is only leading by 3% which is the margin of error for the poll. Then he stated that Obama is inexperienced and even called him immature! I couldn't believe my ears! He went on to state that Obama should not be supported by blacks because he is of mixed race and an 'immigrant' who doesn't understand that 'we as black folks are still trying to get our 40 acres and a mule' ! I was amazed ! So, I picked up the phone and finally got through. The screener asked what I wanted to say. I stated that I wanted to say that the man on the show should be ashamed of himself for being so negative and small minded and that it is extremely sad and counterproductive that black folks like him have such a backwards, self defeative attitude. Al Sharpton's screener told me....'You don't REALLY think Barack Obama has a chance to win do you?' I was amazed !!!! And this, on just the day Obama is all over the news for being ahead of Hillary in the Iowa (white state) polls.....again....an historic achievement. Is this the attitude that Al Sharpton has instilled on his staff ? Are his screeners swaying callers away from supporting Obama ? Wow !

My black Brothers and Sisters. PLEASE LISTEN !!! What we need right now is a change in the White House.....a person who will care about all Americans including Blacks and make the changes necessary. Rev. Al Sharpton knows that the person who becomes President of the United States will play the most pivotal role in the immediate future of Black America. But is it his jealousy, his desire to keep blacks dependent on him, or his lust to stay top man that makes him 'anti-Barack'?

Rev. Al has the right to vote for whomever he wants. But as the 'black' leader is Al's refusal to support Barack to mean that he feels one of the other candidates would do more for Black America than Obama? If so, then he should speak up telling us who and why he thinks so. Fact is, other than Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson, no other President has done a thing for blacks in over 200 years. And always remember our so called 'First black President' (Clinton) was responsible for implementing the 3 Strikes Law and for making crack cocaine penalties 8 times worse than powder, knowing that these laws would put greater numbers of black men in prisons.

Rev. Al....if you are sabotaging Obama's campaign.....please stop ! It is time for Black America to stop being misled and rally in support of Barack Obama in record numbers....not just because he is black....but because he is the best person for the job, and will definitely address the issues of Black America. Black folks say America is not ready for a black president which is being proven wrong by the Iowa (white state) polls. The question is.....Is BLACK America ready for a black president, or are we still stuck on the 'white is right' mentality which has been to our detriment. Rev. King wrote a book entitled 'Why We Can't Wait'. NOW is the time my brothers and sisters.

I'm reminded of the story of the praying christian who is sinking in his boat, cries out Lord Help Me...and going to wait on God. A guy comes up in a row boat, tells the man to get in...but the sinking man says...No....I'm waiting on God. Later, a tug boat pulls up and the man again says No....I'm waiting on God. Now, up to his neck in water, a huge cruise liner pulls up, throws the life jacket to the man and again he states, No I'm waiting on God. Of course he drowns. And when he goes to heaven he asks, Lord.....why did you forsake me? God replies (and these are my words) 'Fool.....I sent you a row boat, a tug boat and a cruise liner big enough to hold thousands.....but you were too stupid to get on bored.....so you got what you deserved.'

My people, through these times in 2007, when we as Black Americans are drowning in disparity, injustice, poverty and prejudice.....it is time for us to unite, rally together, rise up and get on board the cruise liner that is here to stop us from our drowning......and the name of that ship is ......Barack Obama !

In addition to Why We Can't Wait, another slogan commonly recited by Rev. Dr. King was....The Time Is Now ! And yes...the time IS now...for us all to get on board. Once we do, we can reach back with outstretched hands to the Rev. Als of this land....
and pull them up....with us.

I'd hate for us to hear....when we meet our Maker....
'Fools.....you got what you deserved' .
Let's Get On Board !

x x x

About the Author:
Cleveland, Ohioan Greg Jones' commitment to a better America and World inspired him to launch Blacks 4 Barack, a national grassroots organization dedicated to invigorating support for Barack Obama for President. Jones is also known for his Maxi-Single Peace Song CD release entitled God Bless the World-While You Bless America which is garnering accolades worldwide. Jones also has been involved in the music and entertainment industry and was publisher/editor of nationally distributed Gospel Reflections Music Magazine.

Visit www.Blacks4Barack.homestead.com
and www.GodBlessTheWorldOnLine.com

rikyrah said...

Thanks greg jones for a great article.