The “lesser of two evils” trope is one which allows the continued maltreatment of Black people in this nation. The idea that it is best to choose the candidate who is less, but still likely to participate in microagressive banter and oppressive practices is one which does us a disservice no matter how you attempt to sell it.
I ask myself…are political party affiliations and electoral politics the most effective way to bring about change in this nation? Is voting at a federal level as radical and revolutionary as we are made to believe? Is the real power in voting locally though it doesn’t get media coverage? Is it in voting at all? Yes, research shows that Black voters have power in democratic primaries, but should our loyalty to the Democratic party remain when their loyalty to us is questionable? We can acknowledge voting as important with an agenda behind it, but does it do us well when the Black agenda is constantly up for compromise? I am reminded of a passage from Black labor White Wealth which reads:
“Blacks have made little relative progress from slavery to today because we still have not acquired the necessary sources of power to create positive change in our marginal conditions. People who use their individual means to build collective wealth and power understand that there is strength in numbers. Blacks have yet to recognize or act upon this truth. The Black vote alone will not ensure Blacks a respectable status or new role in America. The vote must be backed by a national plan of public policies specifically designed to help blacks achieve economic self-sufficiency and self-empowerment.”
In the words of a good friend of mine, solely focusing on the vote is asinine and believing that the vote is the be all end all to liberation is nonsensical. I think it unwise for us to put so much emphasis on the vote without putting equal emphasis on the demands of the Black agenda to be unwavering and unwilling to bargain. If the Black vote is as strong as we say, are we not doing ourselves a disfavor to continue allowing the Democratic party to believe that our vote is theirs regardless of if their white nominee claims that by not voting for him, we “ain’t Black”? Are we not doing ourselves a disservice by backing the “less evil” candidate? In 1963, Malcolm X stated that “The white Liberal differs from the white Conservative only in one way; the Liberal is more deceitful, more hypocritical than the Conservative. Both want power, but the White Liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor and by winning the friendship and support of the Negro, the White Liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or a weapon in this political football game, that is constantly raging, between the White Liberals and the White Conservatives. The American Negro is nothing, but a political football.”, and that statement continues to ring true in this 2020 election. There is no such thing as the “lesser of two evils”. If both are evil, both should therefore be unacceptable and held accountable. So, could non-partisanship or shifting away from the democratic party be in the best interest of Black America in order to “create positive change in our marginal conditions”?
In Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P.Newton, it is noted that the rise of the Black Panther Party “marked a transition from civil rights agitation per se to a revolutionary cause demanding nothing less than a comprehensive restructuring of American Life-everything from its institutions and laws to its basic economic system.” Having a “lesser of two evils” prerogative is not operating out of a place of progressiveness but rather out of a place of fear. Fear that by thinking and organizing outside of the democratic party, we will not see progression. But in the words of Martin Luther King jr., “The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” Fear can and will never spark a revolution, extremism can. So, perhaps it is time to step away from the democratic party and instead demand the “comprehensive restructuring” of America through the formation of our own. Perhaps it is once more time to transition from agitation to rebellion from the status quo and furthermore rebellion from “the lesser of two evils” mantra. As of midterm elections in 2018, as a collective Hispanic, Black and Asian citizens accounted for 25% of total voters according to the Pew Research center. If a coalition were to form among minorities with the goal of shifting to a 3rd party or independent preference, would it be possible to shift the dynamic within the United States government? I wonder, what might America look like if Black people stopped feeling obligated to vote on a democratic ticket? What might it look like if creative extremism governed? What might it look like if it seemed we were forming our own party based on identity politics? Would democrats be forced to move- forced to shift their agenda to meet our requests? Would Black America no longer feel the need to compromise in order to make “progress”? No more choosing the lesser of two evils, it is time we make them work for the Black vote.