The contradiction of celebrating the Democratic Party Today
So today everyone woke up, as they should do everyday honestly, thanking the Blacks in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for their contribution to this here democracy. In the wee hours of the morning the often hated, never duplicated, always inebriated state of Georgia flipped blue and Kamala Harris, I’m sure, was contemplating throwing on her pair of Timberlands by Stacey Adams and squee weeing all the way to Magic City. It’s a beautiful day to be a Black liberal invested in the current way of doing things. And the timelines told us as much. “Black people just saved America/democracy/Democratic Party!” and all of its cousins, “Stacey Abrams, a buh-lack woman I might add, single-handedly registered 800,000 voters in Georgia!,” “Black people waited 8 hours to vote for the end of fascism and won!” “Don’t you dare say what Black people won’t do for this country” and on and on and on.
I get it. This is a moment — emphasis here because the “peaceful transferral of power” hasn’t begun actually, ya know, transferring — where the work of hundreds of voting rights activists in those particular places is being recognized and celebrated for the gains they’ve made over decades. We cannot shortchange the work of our people, even if, in my personal thinking, it feels misguided.
The Democratic Party taking the presidential seat has no bearing or meaning on the success of American democracy or the democratic process. We were still witness to massive amounts of voter suppression across the country. Neither party has done a lick to remove or relieve the constant terror of policing in Black and Brown communities. And the Democrats, the ones that we are touting today as an evil necessary to save our democracy, have shown both that they will support local policing with the same antiquated vision of their predecessors but have absolutely no intention to curve the violence this country enacts — with economic sanctions, deportation, and the ever increasing number of military bases and detention centers — across the globe. What does it mean, then, to outwardly celebrate the continuation of that viciousness?
On a slightly smaller scale, I wonder about a political figure like Stacey Abrams, who, today will be positioned as a masterful local organizer in Georgia. The tinge of individualism in this framing is giving me Obama-ish vibes. Maybe that’s what the people want. But in order to seek liberation in a way that doesn’t succumb to the US propaganda machine, it feels significant to note that Abrams shilled mighty hard for the Democratic Party — and more specifically the Vice Presidential seat. While doing so she flat out dismissed the very credible sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden in April. A month later, I wrote about the limits of the “greater good” argument often used against Black non-voters, and remembered how icky the language she used to describe Black constituents felt. I wrote, then:
“Furthermore, the language Abrams uses to describe Black voters and why she’s an asset is really troubling: “I know that for communities of color, particularly for the Black community, there has got to be a recognition that their needs are met,” she told former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod on a recent episode of his podcast. “There has to be an intentionality to turning them out. A lot of folks can do that. I’m one of those people. And I have proven it by turning out more people of color in an election than anyone in 2018 did. Not by race, but by raw number.” Black people are used to being generalized, enumerated, and otherwise made inhuman — it just stings a little more when the faces running the numbers are Black ones.”
Part and parcel to the glorifying of high Black voter turnout in this presidential election is the myth that Black people haven’t shown up to the polls relative to other racial groups. It’s a lie, we do just fine. But we are, as in most realms, shouting to the overseers that we do our American civic duty around here. This summer, when abolition hit the mainstream, it seemed that there might be more imaginative thinking when it came to not just prisons and policing, but the way we govern. The abolition of police and prisons won’t come without a collective overhaul; a sort of renaissance in political potential that first understands how our lives and the concepts of our freedom have been stymied by imperialist and carceral thinking. Renaissance will hopefully spur activity, meaning, stepping out into the uncertainty of “not prisons,” “not policing,” “not two-party politics,” and find out where it takes us. Because anything is better than here. Anything is better than having to routinely cape for a country that has no interest in you.
So today we may celebrate. Some of us really have earned it. Many of us have not. The Democratic Party and their hold on Black people should not be celebrated but analyzed, criticized and subverted. The future of us does not belong in the hands of any one party. Never in the hands of white people. We hand it over with fealty to an oppressive regime. And, I don’t know, aren’t you tired of giving, giving, and giving, only to have to shout from the rooftops that you’ve given it all?