Shawn Fredericks | Staff Writer
The midterm elections are over, and the blue wave turned out to be a blue splash with Democrats getting the House (an expected result), and Republicans keeping the Senate. While the promised blue wave did not sweep the nation, it did break through many barriers, especially for women of color, who showed out.
For example, this election saw the first Native American women Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland being elected to the House of Representatives. Somali-American Ilhan Omar—who, two decades ago, had come to the US as a refugee—was the first Muslim woman to be elected into the House.
These are notable breakthroughs of progress that should be praised. The success of women of color in the political system, if it continues, can lead to positive foundational changes to America’s political leadership.
This victory was great news for everyone the midterm elections, but it also showcased the sinister flaws in the current political system that violates the core ideals of America’s professed value of democracy.
Voter suppression, an ever-frustrating issue for people of color for the last century, reared its ugly head again to the surprise of no one who knows anything about politics.
In Vann R. Newkirk II’s article for The Atlantic, “Voter Suppression Is the New Old Normal,” Newkirk writes: “In reality, the country has always been defined as much by whom it’s kept from voting as by who is allowed to participate, and the ideal of democracy has always been limited by institutions designed to disenfranchise. Put another way: The great majority of all elections in American history would have been entirely illegitimate under modern law.”
Gerrymandering that targets black and brown voting rights in communities of color and voter ID laws in other states that disproportionately affect people of color—amongst other instances of voter suppression—has undermined the very principle of democracy. Again, for people of color, American democracy has been an unfilled promise that seems to be only for white middle-class Americans.
I recently wrote an article on why black people should vote where I took a very harsh tone to encourage black people to vote. Upon reflection, I wished I’d taken a more empathetic and understanding tone. As a black man, I know all too well the frustrations with the American political system and how, more often than not, the system does not reflect the interest of black people nor people of color. It often antagonizes us.
As people of color, there are very few options to make headway into American politics through traditional methods like voting because of both voter suppression and the destructive two-party system. The Democratic Party touts itself as the progressive political party, yet it has repeatedly failed to provide a political platform for people of color. Its political ineptitudes and lack of a clear progressive vision constantly let us down.
The Republican Party is even worse, as it’s the white man’s political party and it’s running amuck with a base of neo-Nazis and white identity politics.
Additionally, the Republican Party is the fear-mongering party that is chasing after the nonexistent specter of voter fraud as a cover up for their voter disenfranchisement tactics. You know, good ol’ boy business as usual.
There’s a reason why people of color predominantly don’t vote for the Republican Party and would rather sit out elections than participate. That’s exactly what the party’s aimed goal is—create fear and apathy to cover up subpar vision and policy.
With all these factors in consideration (and people can slander me for saying this), why would people of color vote? The white man’s party wants to suppress our vote and the so-called progressive party acts as if it doesn’t want to be bothered with our interests but expects your vote at the same time.
Look here at the state of North Carolina—a state where the Republican-dominated General Assembly is at work to incorporate voter ID laws to disenfranchise voters for their benefit. This is especially relevant to the next generation of NC State students of color, who may be affected by these new voter ID initiatives.
Is this the democracy my ancestors bled to be a part of? As the younger generation of Americans of color are coming of age, what do they have to look forward to?
These questions need answers. I don’t have the answers to these questions, but the future will unfold nonetheless. I just pray better times are coming.