Leveraging our power
14th January 2013 · 0 Comments
By Dr. E. Faye Williams
Reflecting on 2012 victories, I’m reminded of the observation of famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright when he said, “A free America… means just this: individual freedom for all, rich or poor or else this system of government we call democracy is only expedient to enslave man to the machine and make him like it.”
Despite the most concerted effort in recent history to disenfranchise voters and influence the outcomes of certain races with the use of unlimited financial resources, people recognized the value of their votes and assertively defended that right against those who wished to strip them of it. It’s reasonable to believe that next to the victories that were won, the most important outcome of the 2012 election was the reawakening of an understanding of the power of the vote. The power we possess and our potential to influence meaningful change was reaffirmed by our engagement in participatory politics.
As empowered as we may feel, the job remains unfinished. The real work for our political future during and beyond President Obama’s second term began at 11:15 p.m. on November 6. The President’s first four years demonstrated that he cannot succeed merely on the power of his intellect, his winning personality or the love and affection we feel for his wife and children. He’ll need the support of a concerned and informed electorate willing to inform and persuade elected officials to support legislation of their choice. As Dr. King said, “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
We only have to look four years into the past to understand how effective a small but dedicated group can shape a legislative agenda. We must not forget that on the day of the President’s 2009 inauguration, Mitch McConnell and others met to design a process of political obstruction to deny the President a second term. It’s obvious President Obama is no better liked by them now than he was then, so we should expect no better treatment or respect for him.
The “Fiscal Cliff” deadline negotiations and the soft “fall” we experienced until the passage of legislation on January 2, 2013 is indicative of the challenge his opponents are willing to present. We are certain some people hate the President so much that they’re willing to accept destruction to national interest to thwart presidential success.
It’s more than circumstantial that the 2013 Presidential Inauguration coincides with the Martin Luther King, Jr. observance. I’m willing to express my belief that there is a ‘divine influence’ in this entire process. Once again, we come to a place where the opportunity exists for a renewal of positive CHANGE, but we are admonished by Dr. King to accept that “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” He goes on to say that we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom because a man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Leveraging our newly realized political power means we must have an accurate understanding of the benefits of supporting the President’s legislative agenda, and the problems with not supporting it. We must become more familiar the issues, obstacles and our desired political outcomes. We must maintain the same energetic involvement to this term of the President as we did when we first elected him. We must become as engaged in the 2014 elections, including local elections, as we were in the 2012 general election.
We must be zealous in our objection to the evils of any system that perpetuates injustice and economic inequity. Dr. King said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
This article was originally published in the January 14, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper