People wait in line to vote. (WI file photo)
People wait in line to vote. (WI file photo)

Judy Leak Bowers is a celebrated Master Teacher in Washington, D.C., who has spent the past 25 years teaching mathematics and science to elementary school children.

She said she has watched with increasing alarm at the political direction the country has taken – less humane, more corporatist, catering to the wealthy, rich and powerful – even as the middle and working class falls deeper and deeper into a financial and economic quagmire.

Even though she voted, Bowers said she has little confidence that America’s political system is equipped or politicians are willing to sustain and provide adequately for what she describes as “Indigenous or Seed (original) people.”

Judy Leak Bowers
Judy Leak Bowers (Courtesy photo)

“The political system isn’t designed to support Indigenous or Seed people, not in education, the workforce, not the police department, not anything,” said Bowers, a mother, grandmother and Howard University grad. “I think we need a system overhaul. Are we really gonna get that support until people say ‘We’re sorry and owe you some money?’ I don’t think they’re that evolved.”

“I think they’re all about big business. I’m not a political analyst but I’ve been here for a long time, I watch, see patterns. I see us continuing to go back and forth in circle not allowing us to evolve.”

Bowers is not alone.

Kymone Tecumseh Freeman, a D.C. artist, playwright and activist, said he’s so disgusted with both major political parties, he’s voting for the Green Party candidate.

Kymone Tecumseh Freeman
Kymone Tecumseh Freeman (Courtesy photo)

“We need to recognize that this is not a democracy. Waiting for hours in line in order to vote is voter suppression. I think we’re going to see more than Bush vs. Gore this election,” he said. “And regardless of the election outcome, Trump is not leaving the White House.

“Coronavirus has put capitalism on trial,” Freeman continued. “It has shown the cracks, fissures and problems of this system. They’d preserve the economy before they preserve life. I’m not voting for Biden or Trump. None has helped Black people. They don’t support Medicare for All, a universal basic income – which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. supported – the Green New Deal, rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, providing well-paying jobs or taking care of the environment.”

Trump is accused by a range of critics of ignoring the devastation of the global pandemic on the American people and overseeing a botched federal response to COVID-19. The pandemic has brought the United States to its knees. So far, it has killed more than 230,000 Americans, sickened 9.2 million more and has been allowed to run unfettered as evidenced by the recent explosion of new cases and hospitalizations. In March, the pandemic forced the shutdown of businesses, schools, universities and other entities in about 80 percent of the country, triggering an economic meltdown and record unemployment that dwarfs the Great Recession.

Given these and other monumental challenges, Dr. Wilmer Leon III said, it really doesn’t matter who wins in November.

Political scientist Wilmer Leon (Courtesy photo)
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III (Courtesy photo)

“I think the virus is at such a point that in the next six months the numbers that we’re seeing over the past two weeks indicate that the s—‘s about to hit the fan,” he said. “I’ve been talking to three public health physicians who say the projection of deaths could be 410,000 by January. This is the one data point that determines where everything goes.

“If Biden and Harris win in November, whatever measures they implement to fight the pandemic won’t be able to have an impact until April or May 2021,” Leon said.

The new administration will also be confronted with widespread food insecurity exacerbated by COVID-19, which translates into 140 million people going to bed hungry every night; long food lines across the country; people seeking housing assistance, millions facing eviction; unemployed Americans looking to Congress for job support; and help for small businesses which are disappearing in the tidal wave of COVID-19, said Leon, a radio talk show host, author and political analyst.

Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chose to shelve Democrats’ $2 trillion HEROES relief package just before the election, Leon said he anticipates a Biden-Harris administration – if Democrats take the Senate and hold onto the House of Representatives – pushing through a relief bill AND a stimulus package to help the millions of Americans whose lives have been upended by the pandemic.

Political consultant and activist Michele L. Watley said there’s a question she frequently asks those she knows and works with: “If Joe Biden wins, are we going to take our foot off the gas?”

“If Biden wins, the fight doesn’t end,” said Watley, founder and owner of The Griot Group, a consulting practice that focuses on strategic communications and advocacy for clients and partners. “We can’t be comforted by a Biden-Harris win. We cannot and should not be convinced that the battle will be won with a Biden/Harris win, nor should we become complacent. There is an uprising of racism that confronts us. It’s not in the past, nor is it an anomaly or one-off.”

“We have to hold Harris and Biden accountable and we must do the same for the Senate leader, the House of Representatives and state and local government.”

Since Trump walked down his hotel’s gilded escalator in 2015, Black people, Latinos, Native Americans and others have been under siege. Critics accuse him of pursuing a racist, white nationalist agenda, while dismantling government agencies, weakening environmental regulations, reversing or trying to erase Obama-era policies and programs, eviscerating labor and workforce protections and packing the courts with nominees who are arch-conservative and loyal to him, but mostly unqualified, activist jurists.

Of equal concern is the fact that his racist rhetoric has animated white domestic extremists and militia groups who have promised to stir up violence if Trump loses. FBI Director Christopher Wray and officials from the Department of Homeland Security have been warning that white domestic terrorists pose the greatest threat to the U.S. and U.S. national security, yet those concerns are yet to be acted on by the president or Attorney General William Barr.

Throughout much of the election season, Trump had sought to delegitimize the electoral process by saying the entire system is rigged. The only way he can lose, he has said, is if the presidency is stolen from him. Members of his administration and others in the Republican Party have been engaged in an unrelenting effort since 2010 to suppress and steal the Black vote.

Yet voters have defied convention wisdom so far with more almost 97 million early voters casting ballots.

Trump and his cohorts have filed more than 300 lawsuits around the country seeking to invalidate the 2020 elections and its eventual result. Republicans have at their disposal, an assorted palette of measures used by Republican-dominated state legislatures since 2010. These include strict ID requirements; eliminating same-day registration; prohibiting the counting of out-of-precinct provisional ballots; making it easier to challenge votes cast; and before this year, significantly shortening the early voting period.

Veteran journalist Greg Palast has been investigating voter suppression in the United States for the past 20 years. He told an Informer reporter that 17 million voters have been purged from voter rolls in the past two years, and in 2016, three million ballots were not counted. The voter suppression effort “is run by a rich, white minority.”

Greg Palast
Greg Palast (Courtesy photo)

“It’s about money. Votes lost are overwhelmingly from people of color. It affects Blacks, Asians, other Democrats. Voter suppression is extremely nasty and it’s everywhere, particularly in Republican-controlled states,” said Palast, author of “How Trump Stole 2020.”

“We’re not talking about old-fashioned voter suppression,” Palast said. “Elections officers don’t send ballots and Trump will have tens of thousands of people challenging signatures, extra marks, postage due and things like that. One in 10 ballots challenged won’t be counted.

“I’ve been investigating voter trickery for 20 years and I hate it,” he said. “I was reporting from the BBC and uncovered how George Bush won: thousands of votes were stolen by Jeb Bush. Because they got away with it, it continues. Every four years I pick up the story. We have to turn to ourselves if we ever hope to fix this problem.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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