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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Your Vote Kinda Don't Matter, But Kinda Does, Well Let Me Explain...

   
   
   This 2016 Presidential Election has been a mess. If America were a person its Face Book relationship status with the world would be 'complicated'. Every time I'm over the boarder visiting our Canadian neighbors they bring up this year's race with a somber air of condolences as if I just lost a family member. Seriously! Right now America is an international embarrassment and the world is sitting back watching what's happening in this country like it's a Monty Python marathon. I can see why so many people say they don't vote, they're not going to vote and their vote ultimately doesn't matter. Hell, I facilitate a program for adolescents and work with other youth of various ages every day and they are disgusted about what they're seeing and hearing this election and they're not even old enough to vote. So the statistical statement that Millennials are not interested in or engaged in the political process is right and exact. Because of this degree of dissatisfaction, and me having the experience as a 2013 County Legislature Candidate in my city, I'm consistently in the position to educate others about the political process. And I'm not talking about educating people based upon some "your grandmother died so you could vote", "if you don't vote you can't complain" or "your vote doesn't matter" script either. I'm talking about making the political process more accessible through breaking that sh*t down in layman's terms. In regards to terms, as in the four year term of the president, the truth is, your vote in this or any presidential election kinda doesn't matter, but kinda does, well let me explain. 

The Popular Vote vs. The Electoral College Vote
   
   When we think of voting, it's different on a local, regional and national level. When we're voting to elect local or regional public officials such as our School Board, City Council, Mayors, County Legislators, County Coroners, Senators, Assemblymen/women and etc. they get elected based upon the popular vote. in other words, we directly elect these public officials with our vote. When it comes to the national level, we are not directly electing the President and Vice-President with our popular vote. We are actually voting for representatives in our State who are then expected to vote on our behalf for the President and Vice-President we choose. These representatives are called Electors and this process is called the Electoral College. Sometimes these Electors are actually on our ballot. A lot of times they aren't on the ballot and we don't even know who the hell these people are. Electors are usually people affiliated with a Presidential candidate, state-elected officials or political party leaders. In other words, people with clout who can pull the strings, buy, bully and also destroy opponents popular voting power in order to get their own candidate elected. The Electoral College is made up of 538 Electors; a number equal to this nation’s 435 Representatives, 100 Senators and 3 Electors in the District of Columbia. These 538 people are the ones who cast votes to actually decide the President and Vice-President of the United States, not the people directly. So when we go to the polls on Tuesday, we will be choosing which candidate receives our State’s Electors. The candidate who gets a majority of electoral votes (270) wins the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. With the Electoral College there have been instances when a Presidential candidate won the popular vote, but lost the Electors vote. The most recent example is when Al Gore won the popular vote but the Electors said f*ck it and voted for George W Bush instead. Although this doesn't happen all of the time, the fact that it has happened and can happen again, is a problem. A fundamental problem, and flaw, in this system. To guard against this, different states have laws requiring Electors to vote for their statewide winner of the popular vote and/or sign pledges promising to support their party. In this 2016 Election we've already seen Democratic and Republican Electors step down or openly agree to break the law and accept paying a fine if they're required to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, regardless what the popular vote is in their state to support these candidates. This is the exact kind of political atmosphere that has caused a candidate who won the popular vote, lose the Electors vote or who lost the popular vote, win the Electors vote.

   So yeah, I can understand when people say their vote for the President doesn't matter but here are a few things we can actually do about it:

1.) What does matter is what we can politically control on a local and regional level, not just as voters but as lobbyists, constituents. We need to financially support the campaigns and initiatives of those candidates we want to see represent our concerns in public office. Here in New York State the Jacobs Family who owns Delaware North Companies are Governor Cuomo's best friend. Delaware North is a food, venue and management company that operates around the country in  various sports arenas, state parks and etc. The Jacobs have a pretty large family during election time each family member makes a huge contribution to Cuomo's campaign. Then they make a collective donation to his campaign as a family. Because of that support, Cuomo's policies and initiatives always lean in favor of his friends, the Jacobs family. If we don't see any candidates we like, we need to financially support local organizations, businesses and community members who have initiatives that are addressing our concerns. If we don't see any of them, then we need to create something and/or look for others to create it so you can financially support that. The bottom line is we need to put money where our mouth is, especially those of us who have the most to say about what people are or aren't doing. 

2.) Another vital part of local and regional control is finding out who our state Electors are, how they were vetted, holding those who gave them this position accountable and what we can do to lobby for Electors we think best represent us in the Electoral College. As Five Percenters we often talk about our ability to master city science, social science and high science. In this regard, we must ask ourselves how can we use our city science or knowledge of local and regional politics to utilize the social science or social capital to influence the higher science or politics on a national level with our Electors? An excellent example of this is the political pressure that was put on Donald Trump's Ohio campaign chair and Elector Kathy Miller for making openly racist remarks about black people during an interview with The Guardian. She resigned just hours after the interview came out. 


One of my signs from my 2013 County Legislature Campaign

3.) If you want to be involved or on the fence about being involved in the political process, realize that you do have the ability to be a candidate or encourage others you would support as a candidate. It's obvious, especially on a local level, that many of the people you see on the School Board, City Council, Legislature and even your Mayor don't have any special qualifications to sit there. And yes, I mean sit there because that's what some of them are doing. You don't need no doctorates degree in political science, 10,000 hours of community service or know how to use $50 dollar words. We've had actual Presidents and Presidential candidates that are far from being people like this. So hell yeah you're qualified to represent your community, city or school district if you genuinely care about people having the proper resources and services to succeed. That's the first thing you need, heart! Heart is your moral compass that helps guide you as a candidate, and be a guide to a candidate you support, in a sea of intellectual impotence and egotistical tides of petty politricks. If you're not comfortable enough to put yourself out there as a candidate then volunteer to work on the campaign of a candidate that you support. 

   As I write this article we are two days away from Tuesday's General Election and what my Christian family calls The Rapture -yet neither of these political candidates are coming to save America. Those of us who live here, and plan on staying here, must save ourselves. If you're like myself, someone who doesn't support Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, keep in mind that there are two other candidates you can research and feel good about voting for; Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. If you still don't feel good after researching these candidates then I encourage you to just write-in Rev. X

Peace,
Saladin
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