Election’s Over; All Hands on Deck!

So the election is over but the problems persist. Over the past four years America’s foundation rocked just a wee bit more. The solutions are as uncertain and elusive today as they were prior to Tuesday’s historic election.  Whether you care to tout the electoral or the popular vote results the divide is apparent and it remains parked at the intersection of Race and Class streets in every city all over the country. And so it was for our parents before us and theirs before them.

The day after Election Day, Facebook was all atwitter with careless comments revealing how some of our Facebook “friends” really felt … “click”, “click”, highlight “unfriend”… “click” … dammit!. So the “friend” is gone but the mindset still prevails; hovering, like a storm cloud, over all that would make this country great. Comments like, “So we just elected a guy who believes I should go to work so others can stay at home …getting free housing … free food and a fat tax return for doing absolutely nothing!” ruled the day on some posts. Really?! This is what it’s come to?! No, this is how it has been for our parents before us and theirs before them.

We take the liberty of turning a blind eye to these sentiments and trends that are slowly destroying the fabric of this diversely fibered quilt called the United States of America; at times, seemimg to ignore the suffering of our fellow citizen. The founding papers establishing this country were handwritten so typos didn’t exist but in moments like these, I begin to wonder, perhaps our founding fathers suffered with dyslexia … perhaps these United States never were really all that united but untied.  Oh, what a difference little letter order can make. Indulge me for a moment. What if we really were supposed to be the Un-tied States of America?

If we were the Un-tied States of America then the institution of slavery and all its offspring, Jim/Jane Crow would make sense; the KKK makes sense; the polarization of Blacks and whites make sense; the schism between the “haves” and “have nots” makes sense; States’ rights vs. individual human rights makes sense. “Othering” and blaming everyone who is not like us – whoever “us” is today – makes sense. But wait, if we are untied, does a “we” or an “us” even exist? Or is it always going to be me preying on you instead of me praying for you? If we are untied perhaps all of this makes sense. But, thanks be to God, “United” wasn’t a typo and it isn’t symptomatic of dyslexia.

We weren’t created to be untied. We were created to be tied up … tight together … united. As the old Bondei proverb goes, “sticks in a bundle cannot be broken”. I am only human because you are. I exist so that you don’t have to stand alone. My voice works when your voice is disenfranchised or otherwise silenced and vice versa. Those of us who believe in something greater than ourselves are called to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. No matter how disparate. In Tuesday’s aftermath, do some people feel they lost something? Sure. Do others feel they won something? Absolutely. Yet, neither side is whole; there is still work to do – and lots of it.

As Dr. King said, “we may have all come (to this country) on different ships but we’re in the same boat now”… and it’s taking on water. Our time is better spent taking the finger of blame we point at everyone else and using it to plug the hole in the boat. We just rehired a captain for this ship on Tuesday and he needs his entire crew. All hands on deck!

The Threat to Democracy

My friends, here we are on the eve of yet another Election Day. This Election Day, like many before it, has been touted by many as “the most important Election Day …” and guess what? Each claim has been correct in accordance to the condition of these United States of America at any particular moment in time. In fact, there were some elections that turned out to be “most important” in hindsight – each Presidential election this millennium has been extremely important.

I am reminded of the well-known experiment of the frog in the boiling pot of water: If you place the frog in boiling water, it will immediately and instinctively jump out as an obvious measure of self- preservation. Place the same frog in a pot of water and turn up the heat incrementally? The frog is boiled alive in the pot.

The heat of new voter suppression tactics became noticeable with the activity surrounding the election of 2000 and each subsequent election. In 2000 Florida’s “hanging chads” made it hot! In 2004? The denial of more than 5.3 MILLION Americans who had previous felony convictions made things a little hotter. In 2008? More than 98,000 registered Georgia voters were removed from the roll of eligible voters because of a computer mismatch … making things hotter still. And here we are, the heirs to democracy – on the eve of the 2012 Presidential Election – more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs; sweating profusely, insides boiling from the fire, barely able to breathe, hoping against hope that our impressive, albeit last ditch, exercise in early voting pays off.

Below you will find a letter from O. Patrick “Pat” Scott, the youngest member of the Baltimore’s famed Goon Squad, still on his “j-o-b”, still arming the community with information explaining what we need to watch for tomorrow. It is obvious part of the letter is partisan but readers who may not agree with Pat’s choice for President should not lose sight of the greater message – the threat to democracy that voter suppression represents.

Thank you Pat,


My Friends:

Forgive me for preaching to the choir, but not many people really want to hear this.


If our frame of reference is the U.S. Federal Elections of 2000 and 2004, photo ID laws, the campaign of 2012, the catastrophic flooding of the northeastern states, and the national conversion of voting machines to devices that do not provide for recounts, to say the least, then we should expect the worst next Tuesday … Vote Stealing … and not be surprised.

We should expect vote stealing where:

  •  Confusion exists due to dislocation caused by the weather or by voter suppression attempts.
  •  Published poll results show competing candidates are “tied” or either is leading by an amount within the poll’s margin of error;
  •  One party “spins” that their own negative poll results actually reveal how close their candidate is to the other and therefore should be viewed as a “virtual tie”, no matter the margin.
  •  Polling organizations release “consolidated” polls that reveal almost everything is a “toss-up”. And the media amplifies this kind of message because it provides controversy, drama, or great story lines;

In a national election, a state’s Exit Polls are not covered by the national media because that state is not considered to be “in play”. For example, on Nov. 6, 2012 “TV Election Night news coverage” will cancel “exit poll data in 19 states” while House and Senate seats are still at stake. Given the circumstances above, the following states might need extreme monitoring:

  •  Toss-up states are: OH, NH, VA, WI, IA, CO and FL.
  •  Leaning states are: MI, MN, PA, OR, NV, and NC.
  •  States excluded from detailed exit poll data coverage are: AK, AR, DE, DC, GA, HI, ID, KY, LA, NE, ND, OK, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, WV, UT, and WY.

According to Bev Harris, BlackBoxVoting.org, the people have the right to know:

1. Who can vote

2. Who did vote,

3. The chain of custody, and

4. The accurate count


Patrick Scott

November 1, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! That’s What POTUS Means To Me


In life we will experience things that for some reason make us uncomfortable. Maybe we are unable to put a finger on it, perhaps it rubs us the wrong way but there have been events that leave us feeling unsettled.  I experienced one such instance recently. Actually, I should say that I experienced another such instance recently. Over time there have been many examples but the “last straw” incident which was the impetus for the inquiry of my friends occurred on a national morning news show. The slight – I will allege it so – was made by a reporter; a supposed media professional.

As I recall, the story was about the coming hurricane season and the effect it would have on the efforts to quell BP’s oil volcano (I refuse to call something that massive and out of control a “spill”). I remember the strange feeling I got upon hearing the reporter then refer to the President of the United States of America (POTUS) as … just … “Obama”. I do not remember any introductory phrasing or prior mention of the president that could have excused the reporter’s last name only reference.  Granted, I was merely listening to the newscast while tending to other things so it is entirely possible that I could have missed something. Not wanting to assume the worst I put some “feelers” out to see if anyone had heard what I thought I had just heard. My intent was to ask them  1) what morning news show they watched and 2) if they happened to be watching the same news show I watched, did they witness anything  strange but I didn’t even have to ask! As soon as I referenced the event and they said, “Yeah, I saw that, too … and I cringed. I’m tired of it!”

I am far from a media professional but I am familiar enough with politics, news and reporting to know what is usual and customary with regard to respectful references to the “highest office in the land”. Even if we feel that the person occupying that office doesn’t deserve said respect, because they are sitting in that office, it’s theirs by default.  Now we may “talk junk” about the person in the office amongst our friends in private but, for the most part, in public we are respectful. Media professionals most certainly should be, at the very least, respectful.

After having my suspicions substantiated I began to rummage through my mental Rolodex to recall the major slights that this particular occupant of the White House has had to endure in just 20 months:

1)Day 1 – Oath of office snafu. There was so much made of this that President Obama felt he needed to have a “do over”. So he did. And from what I saw it appeared the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court actually made the blunder.

2)New York Post Editorial cartoon appears to depict President Obama as a dead chimpanzee.

3)Birthers – Questioned President Obama’s American citizenship and nationality.

4)Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina essentially calls President Obama a liar when he shouts, “You Lie!” while the President addressed the nation.

Clearly these examples are evidentiary of a fundamental lack of respect for something or someone. So which is it? Is there no respect for the office or the individual who occupies the office of President of the United States of America?

I am sure there will be those who read this and dismiss them as twaddle from an overly sensitive writer who must be Black. And, with the exception of “twaddle” and the “overly sensitive” part, you would be correct. But your being right doesn’t necessarily make me wrong. Any sensitivity that one may detect is born from the insensitivity that has run rampant since this President’s election. As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t quite a year ago that a member of Congress called the President of the United States of America a liar. This wasn’t the British Parliament. Joe Wilson wasn’t sitting in the balcony of a B–movie theater hollering at the screen. This was on Capitol Hill! So, was he calling Mr. Obama a liar or the President of the United States a liar? And which – if any – is excusable?

There will be those who think my objection is all about race … that my “sensitivity” is rooted in the fact that this President is Black and since I happen to be Black I am now paying attention where I paid none before. But it is precisely because I paid attention to the “ghost of President’s Past” that the last name only reference disturbed me so.

People will throw President George W. Bush into the mix. They will make mention of all the terrible things people said about him but excluding fanatics, in George Bush’s worst hour (and there were many from which to choose) even his worst media critics (and again, there were many from which to choose) referred to him as “George Bush” or “President Bush” but never last name only! That being said, if so called “professionals” can disrespect this President of the United States, who happens to be Black, what message does that send to young Black men (and I include myself in that number) nationwide?

It should be a “respect of office” issue – as it traditionally has been – not a “race” issue. But given the circumstances is that possible? So we get to choose. Either it has something to do with race – consciously or unconsciously – or the media professionals have suddenly lost respect for the office of the President. And if you choose the latter the question will be “why?” What’s different about this President? Is he a man? Check. Did he have enough charisma and political savvy to get elected? Check. Did he at some point make a majority of the people feel good about their country? Check. Did he make campaign promises? Check. Has he made promises that he is having difficulty fulfilling? Check. Has he had to deal with unforeseen circumstances? Check. Hmmm … sounds just like the other 43 Presidents that preceded him.  So what’s different about our 44th President … President Barack Hussein Obama?

Do I think the slights are always conscious? Not at all. Do I think that there are things woven into the fabric of this country that make unconscious slights commonplace and palpable? Indeed. Do I think there is a better country? Not by a long shot. Do I think this country can do better? Yes! … In fact, it must.



R-E-S-P-E-C-T! That’s What POTUS Means to Me © 2010 by Wendell F. Phillips