One thing I’ve learned from sports is that you can’t play to not lose. You must always play to win without thinking about the risk of losing. While the Democratic victories of the past year helped save this nation, we cannot take those gains or voters’ efforts for granted. We also can’t ignore that we have a Republican Party ready to remove voting rights from minorities and the poor. Yes, winning last year was essential, but if we don’t follow through, we could lose the progress we have made in this short time and kneecap any future attempts to transform our nation. That includes taking all avenues possible to ensure the base’s confidence in government’s ability to transform our lives.
While I realize voters are the ones who make things happen — the point of this post is to address government. The goal is not to criticize our administration but to challenge our structures overall. Those in the Beltway underestimate just how deep a hole we are in, especially Black people like me. This is of great concern. I’m not saying that they’re not aware of systemic problems, but some underestimate the patience we have. After the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement (including the death of George Floyd), the thirst for justice and accountability has only risen within our community. Over 400 years of oppression has led to frustration and in my opinion, time is limited on how long we have to act before the pressure cooker explodes.
Our main challenge for next year is to convince Americans to trust the government and all it can accomplish. Voters can be put into two baskets — those who don’t believe in big government (except when it’s for white people) and those who believe in big government but don’t believe it works to protect them. We cannot take voter turnout in 2020 for granted. Although most of the motivation was against the Trump regime (rightfully so), our task now must be to maintain our momentum and prove their votes matter, regardless of their race or ethnicity. While the Biden Administration has made tremendous strides, there is still much to do as African Americans are still far behind during this recovery.
That gets us to the elephant in the room — the filibuster. If we cannot remove it and pass our legislation, we’ll be passing up a unique chance to shift the balance of power in our nation. In a perfect world, we could pass bipartisan legislation, but we need to conclude that we cannot find common ground (or 10 votes) with a party where many won’t accept President Biden as the rightful winner of the last year’s election. At what point do we realize the difficulty of finding a compromise on defeating oppression with the very people who perpetrate the said oppression? I am not politically ignorant and understand the wheels of federal government turn frustratingly slow, but I also know that desperate times call for desperate measures.
It is common knowledge by now that getting 60 votes for any of our policies is borderline impossible, but we have a weapon at our disposal — the filibuster. It is of the utmost importance to kill the filibuster especially for social issues such as criminal justice reform, gun reform, and voting rights. I emphasized social issues because while I believe with matters of budget there could be a semblance of compromise, you cannot compromise when it comes to citizen’s rights. You either have total freedom or none at all — no in between. This would be especially difficult with a party that is regressive on rights and has a goal of maintaining white supremacy and its power structure.
African Americans delivered victories for this party, starting back on that Saturday night in South Carolina. Our party has to commit to doing everything they can to have our backs, and must be willing to take every chance they have to keep their promises. Yes, executive actions are good in spirit but are limited in scope and sustainability. To create a longstanding change, we need legislation. While the “bully pulpit” can sometimes become overstated, those from the very top of our government can still apply more pressure towards those senators unwilling to remove the filibuster or vote in unison to protect our rights.
While acknowledging that we need to vote this I am also warning that others might not have the same patience. One thing I’ve learned from being on campaigns is that perception is reality. I’m not sure if others (especially Black people) will accept the excuse that we couldn’t do something, given we are only a few Senators away from killing the filibuster. The argument is that if we don’t strengthen the Voting Rights Act, we won’t be able to vote for more Senators. Republicans are doing everything in their power to hinder our right to vote, so we have to match their energy. We cannot afford to kick the can down the road, because this could be our only shot.
I will make sure as many people vote in these midterms as possible, but we need government and Congress to be just as willing to exhaust every avenue in the pursuit of justice and freedom. I am still confident that our party has the upper hand in next year’s midterms and that in the end justice and righteousness will prevail, but as I stated before, you can’t play to not lose because if you do more than likely you will.