The Crusader Newspaper Group

Mute the campaign rhetoric and focus on getting out the vote in November!

By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader

I’m over it. I won’t let campaign strategist spin, meandering media, diehard enthusiasts, or hypercritical attacks on an opponent deter my thinking. The emperor clearly has no clothes and to waste any more time debating the obvious is an exercise in futility.

If the words out of your mouth over the past 450 days paint you as an arrogant racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, misinformed, ruthless, homophobic demagogue – it would take a fool to believe you’ve been transformed just because you’re able to read from a prepared script for the next 75 days.

Seriously? How dumb do they think Americans are? Well, we will find out November 8th – won’t we? For me, Maya Angelou put it best: “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

The exhaustive candidate consciousness-raising campaign is over. The choice has never been more clear. It really doesn’t matter how any candidates try to reshape their image at this point. If you don’t get it by now, you’re not even trying.

Most of you have watched more CNN, MSNBC and even Fox more in the first half of this year than the past decade altogether. There is no denying that the daily drama called Campaign 2016 was captivating at the outset. But we now know who they are. The daily news media is a rehash of the same time-worn story lines. Kick the habit and turn it off. Like President Obama says: “Don’t Boo…Vote!”

Ignore mindless media babbling and focus on how you can make a difference between now and November. Start where you live, stirring up excitement for voter participation; in your household and family; throughout the neighborhood; among members of organizations with which you affiliate: on the job; among peers you socialize with regularly. Deemphasize the candidates to focus on the vote.

We need to engage African Americans in the process from the very start of their eligibility. Every high school and university campus should feature students busy registering their peers and orchestrating the mail-in ballot process so their vote will matter. Every church should coordinate membership registration, education and a system to provide rides to the polls.

Conversely, nightclubs and entertainment establishments should have voter registration tables. Stores that cater to the Black community should be challenged to provide similar access. Every organization that you belong to should have a voter registration, education and facilitation component or you should cancel your membership.

Individually and collectively, the so-called Divine Nine – the collection of Black Greek-Letter organizations – should be out front nationally and in every chapter city and college. Throw a dance or step show and make voter registration cards admission. All Black media should dedicate the entire month of September to shoring up the vote.

Too much is at stake. It won’t be enough for you to simply post your mug all over Facebook brandishing your “I voted” sticker. The more important question will be, how many others did you convince to register and cast their ballots? Our strength is in numbers.

Black folk tend to be last minute by nature. No stereotype – truth. Ask any concert promoter or church event planner. To vote, we have to plan ahead. People need to be reminded that the General Election 2016 voter registration deadline is Tuesday, October 11th for both Indiana and Illinois residents.

Dates to remember also include:

  • Early voting Wednesday, October 12 through Monday, November 7
  • Absentee ballots request deadline is midnight Mon., October 31 – return deadline Tues., Nov. 8
  • Voting hours November 8 are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Illinois and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Indiana
  • For the location of your polling place, go to or, or contact your county clerk.

If we eventually build a strong enough voting contingent, we may someday be able to reverse laws and regulations that discourage rather than encourage participation in the most fundamental practice of democracy.

Maybe someday this ridiculous obsession with one weekday voting can be changed – encouraging ballot casting over several days that include far more convenient Saturday access. Maybe the courts will continue to strike down voter registration laws that disproportionately lock Blacks out of the process. Maybe we can eventually undo some of the gerrymandering of the past few decades. Maybe we can get voting rights for all felons once their sentences are served.

Around 57 percent of the nation’s eligible citizens voted in the 2012 election. Clearly, there is a need to promote fewer – not more – restrictions on voting rights. Politicians who fear a more open and engaging voting culture in the U.S. clearly are trying to avoid closer scrutiny and accountability. If you are fulfilling your promise to the people, you shouldn’t have a need to manipulate your numbers.

When it comes to demanding justice for all, equal access to the American dream, an improved economy, raises in minimum wages, affordable education, freedom from war and conflicts, accessible health care, total inclusion and accommodations, respect for every culture and a climate of progressive thought – don’t just talk about it. Be about it. Help get out the vote!

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].

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