Everything is impossibly complicated

Posts tagged ‘democracy’

Not Voting

I read an interesting blog post by a pastor named Thabiti Anyabwile. Pastor Anyabwile seems to be pretty well respected among the more neo-Calvinist-leaning blogs I read. The post is W.E.B DuBois Would Not Vote in This Election.

DuBois was, among many things, a graduate of Harvard and an active leader of the civil rights movement in the early 1900s. In a speech given in 1956, DuBois gave his reasons why he wouldn’t vote. He describes the many elections he participated in, all of which had done no good in his opinion. For example,

…In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us…

By the time 1956 came around, DuBois was fed up:

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party…

In particular, I appreciate that he didn’t do this out of despair, but rather out of a determination to no longer continually compromise the ideal of liberty and democracy for the “lesser of two evils”:

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest…

Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

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