Is How You Vote More Important Than Who You Vote For?

While the country seems to constantly be looking for “authentic ways” to connect with young Black people to get them to the vote or nurture a generation of soon-to-be voters, many are linking with the “who’s who” in Hip-Hop.

Sure that works … but … there are others who approach outreach from outside of the box, teaching and (in some cases) preaching the power that everyone has within their personal spheres to not only impact change but impact the elections.

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One young preacher, who is living in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Samuel Dewitt Proctor, and his predecessor Rev. Otis Moss III, is doing such work.

The Rev. Dr. Charles E. Goodman, Jr. is the Senior Pastor at the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia.  The 135-year-old church has young blood and is a life-line, but even they are challenged to inspire the incredulous and despondent community, who believes that process is broken beyond repair, to get out and vote. But that is the call, the “good preacher” believes.

“I think the unfortunate perception is that we view politics as an ‘individualized’ sport,” Rev. Goodman notes. “We believe that one candidate should encompass all the traits and policies that we believe in. This is a fallacy and has led many people down an unrealistic view of the political system. Politics is a “team’ sport.”

TBC is a predominately Black congregation that overwhelmingly votes along the Democratic party lines. But for some of them, they are discouraged. This year, there is no galvanizing candidate like Obama. Even without America’s most charismatic president on deck (though he is stomping for his Vice Presidential candidate), because of the vitality of the vote, he is working to push not only the pew but the neighborhoods throughout the city to think tactically about the process.

He said, “There is definitely no perfect candidate, but we vote towards those we can hold ACCOUNTABLE to the vision of the future we would like to see.”

“This means not just voting for one ‘cure-all’ candidate,” the Omega Psi Phi member informed. “but to vote down the ballot in every race because they all must work together to piece together the future we need.”

Voting down the ballot doesn’t mean blindly vote Democrat, Independent, or Republican. It means to vote the team that has agreed to pull together to get the agenda accomplished. Many people don’t realize how effective team voting is.

“Michael Jordan is considered the GOAT,” he explains. “However he could not win until he had the right team around him with Pippen, Grant, Rodman, Paxson, Kerr, etc. and a coach named Phil Jackson. As great as Lebron James is, it was not until he teamed up with D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Anthony Davis, did he start winning championships. It takes a ‘team’ to be a champion.”

His state in particular is important this time around. Georgia will either be what is called a “swing state” or become more oppressive. Former Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has worked tirelessly to bring attention to the Peach state, pointing out voter suppression, voter intimidation, and the real disillusionment that People of Color and Poor people have concerning this constitutionally-supported right to vote.

Goodman identifies with Abrams’ work and sees her efforts as a plea to people like him; a millennial-leaning-Gen Xer who has been raised on Biggie, understands business like Diddy, and still wants to fight for justice like Hakeem Jefferies.

He offers these thoughts, “This year, we have two options for the President. I have heard people offer their opinions and observations about the incumbent and the challenger. I have seen people make their case based on religion, economics, and the ability to be a steady hand in a crisis. We have seen how one candidate responds while sitting in the top seat. We know what kind of team he will surround himself with. The other candidate, we only have an experiential and educated guess on how he will be based on a mixture of hope and assumptions.”

“This is one clear fact,” he continues. “We cannot continue down the same path that we are heading down. Thousands of lives are lost every day to a virus that we have failed collectively to control and take seriously. We are a divided nation, that was originally built on white supremacy and slavery, and our divisions are being exploited for political capital and the maintenance of power through the status quo.”

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“We have become fixated on singular issues, such as abortion and gay rights, where we have forgotten that we are encouraged to believe in the entirety of the sanctity of life, which means not just justice do the womb, but justice from the womb to the tomb and loving our neighbor as much or even more than we love ourselves. All of this cannot realistically fall at the feet of one individual, but it must be a collective that believes and adheres to and strives towards accomplishing the common good for all.”

What are the steps?

Getting out to vote. Tuesday, November 3, is not just an election for president but also many local and state offices. Make sure you read the entire ballot and look on both sides. Be mindful of social distancing requirements and report all acts of voter intimidation.

Church and state are divided by law but stepping in to lift values that benefit people and asking people to vote with compassion and justice in mind, is something that the founders of this nation would agree supersedes religion.

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