Go Vote!

Finishing is what counts. In less than 100 days Americans will decide whether or not to finish and validate a work started more than a century ago by re-electing President Barack Obama.

If you think anything else, you aren’t really looking at the bigger picture. President Obama’s 2008 election was historic and inspiring. His re-election is crucial. If we don’t do our part, the future is sure to bring more economic hardship and the elevation of business interests over the public good.

If he is re-elected the work he’s begun will have time to flower. The pendulum of justice championed by John Brown, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B.DuBois, Marcus Garvey, The NAACP, The Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr., and a host of others can complete its upward arc toward fairness and equity.

If you never thought your vote counted, it certainly counts now.

Conservatives declared open war on President Obama the day he took the oath of office. Their mission has been to derail his policies by making his job as difficult as possible. In the process, they have turned Congress into an ineffectual body. Contention rules the roost and compromise is seldom seen. The fact that these conservatives would sacrifice the business of the nation and make every attempt to roll back as many civil liberties as possible speaks volumes about their vision of the future.

President Obama has stayed on a steady path. He’s pushed forward. His list of accomplishments has stacked up. He won the Nobel Peace Prize and did away with Osama bin Laden. He pushed through healthcare reform and held the “Beer Summit.” He’s shown himself statesman, commander, political operator and intellectual. And he’s done it all with easy style and smooth grace.

He has also shepherded the country through the beginning of a recovery. It hasn’t been a dynamic recovery but the lemons are certainly beginning to turn to lemonade. But people are still hurting. But, hurt lingers longer than gratitude. That is why supporting the President’s re-election with votes is critical.

A partner of mine told me the night President Obama was elected that his honeymoon with the country would be sharp and short. “Yeah, they love him now but as soon as he does something they don’t like they’ll start to hate. Watch!” he said. That’s exactly what’s happened.

President Obama has made some tough decisions. He’s earned the angst of the most-left leaning progressives for not doing enough. Conservatives have constantly pounded him for doing too much. His every move has been scrutinized right down to the atoms. The spotlight and microscope don’t seem to have effect on the President at all. He’s been the presidential equivalent of John Henry. He just keeps pounding away at that mountain with nothing but a hammer.

Fortunately, the Obama Presidency has flustered conservatives into showing the depth of their crazy fears. In striking so openly and viciously at women’s rights, gay rights, voting rights and everything else except gun rights Republicans have alienated pretty much everybody. They only have influence with the rich, the greedy and the seemingly insane. From the prolonged birther argument to Rush Limbaugh’s verbal assault on a pro-choice law student’s morality to the proposed and passed draconian immigration and voter suppression laws, Republican rhetoric and initiatives seem to be stuck in the 1950’s.

Presidential elections are won through coalition building. America is the most diverse nation on the planet. But, right alongside the general public interest, everyone is self-interested. Some put their interests above everything else. Republicans have written off everyone but the white, the affluent and the hardline. They trail blacks, Latinos and women. Regardless of the media declarations about how close the race will be, numbers don’t lie. The only way Mitt Romney can become president is if the President’s supporters cannot or do not show up at the polls. It’s that simple.

It’s time to put on the grown folks pants, people. I have heard all kinds of excuses from the people who don’t plan to vote. “Obama’s a puppet,” one man told me. “Of who?” I demanded. “Them people,” he replied with a solemn, knowing and stupid look on his face.

“Them people.” Really? I walked away from that dude. Arguing with a fool makes one fool into two. Excuses and conspiracy theories like that have to be set aside because the stakes are too high. This is a game we can only lose if we don’t show up. But we MUST show up. The alternative is too grave.

Times are hard. They are harder than they have been for decades. After a decade of turning a surplus into an astronomical debt, the chickens came home to roost big-time. That was the pile that Barack Obama stepped in when he took the oath of office. And don’t forget the wars. The military was engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan. President Obama has already facilitated the end of the Iraq conflict and withdrawal from Afghanistan is imminent.

Today the meaningful economic indicators point to progress. Not magic-pill progress or lightening bolt recovery because that isn’t the way it works in the real world. In the real world, things take time. Even in the age of instant access, 24-hour news cycles and ubiquitous communications, turning an economy around takes time and work. America is impatient. People get tired of rising prices and thinning pockets.

When times are hard the grass always looks greener on the other side. Well, we’ve all been to the other side and it sucks. The other side is about suppression of votes. It’s about the rollback of civil liberties. It’s about people who make millions paying next to nothing in taxes. It’s about enabling business to make money on the backs of the broken. It’s about fear. Fear of the country’s changing complexion. Fear of the expansion of opportunity because it brings competition. Fear that if given the tools more Americans could pay more attention and correct the corruption eating away at liberty. So conservatives are in a scramble to put the waking dragon back to sleep.

All of the money and energy behind the rise of Mr. Romney is coming from a very few extremely wealthy people. Instead of paying taxes to help the whole country they would rather spend that money preserving power by placing a puppet in the White House.

The only thing that stands in front of that agenda is you and me. Say what you want but America has the voting thing down. If you show up and vote the person with the most votes wins. Yes, I know about the electoral college technicality. I also know history and there’s only been one instance where that even came into play. So votes do count. Numbers make winners. Support has to be an action. We have to make the statement at the polling place. If it weren’t about individual votes there wouldn’t be a movement to suppress them. DUH!

The time for flowery words is over. The work isn’t over until we finish it. Go Vote! It’s that simple.

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TheVillageCelebration is an online magazine dedicated to reporting stories that highlight the rich tradition of triumph, perseverance, and faith of African-Americans. Every day African-Americans are succeeding, living their dream, moving on up. And we want to share it with others. Welcome to TheVillageCelebration. Everyone likes a good story. Victory from defeat. Good over evil. Something from nothing. Problem is… we rarely read it, hear it, or see it. The news of the day records the American experience with a broad brush, painting a picture focused on that which dominates the daily landscape. The disasters, the politics, the wars. But look closely, life is being lived in and around these headlines.

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