By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Midterm elections are invariably a downer for the political party holding the White House. One can usually expect losses. And so it has seemed as we entered into 2014. In fact, up to a few months ago, the Republican Party was crowing that they were going to sweep the November 4 elections. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, something changed. There was no longer the hubris from the Republicans. In fact, something started to happen that was not – at least according to the so-called experts – supposed to happen. The elections began to tighten up.
There is no way at this point to know the outcome of the November 4 elections. However, poll after poll seems to be indicating that nationally things could go either way. In practical terms this means that voter turnout will be more than essential. A major “get out the vote” effort will be critical if the Democrats wish to retain control of the Senate and flip some House and gubernatorial races. Quite literally, we are looking at a situation where every single vote counts.
Given this, Republican trickery remains a dangerous challenge in terms of voter suppression. The various laws that have been passed over the past several years to protect against imaginary voter fraud have, quite predictably, hurt the participation of historically disenfranchised populations (such as the elderly, youth, people of color). This fact is what makes state legislative races so important. It has been Republican-controlled state legislatures that have passed draconian measures restricting the right and ability of the citizens to vote.
The most immediate task is to ensure that those of us concerned about the poor, working people, people of color, women, the environment, peace, etc., not become despairing or complacent. It is far too easy to sit back and suggest that one’s vote does not count or to pay attention to the nonsense on Fox News and lose hope. We have to mobilize to vote.
We also have to be clear that part of what we are seeing in this pre-election moment is another glimpse of the future. There are growing numbers of people who are tired of the politics of intolerance and the politics of inequality and greed. They have come to recognize that the Republicans seek to hold back the future and that this is not only futile, but it is dangerously futile.
Each of us can make a difference. If you can vote early, vote early. If you are not going to be in town for the election, send an absentee ballot. If you are going to be in town, make sure that you vote first thing in the morning or right after work (or school). What would be unacceptable would be to awaken on November 5 to a terrible election result only to realize that, yes, your vote would have counted had you gone to the polls.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. He is a racial justice, labor and global justice activist and writer. Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.