Rev. Al Sharpton's Weekly Blog

Get Out and Vote

Sep 07, 2010

Nearly two years ago, we as a nation witnessed an unparalleled moment in our own history.  Exhausted, frustrated and simply fed up with destructive policies that only benefited a few elite, citizens in every single state achieved the unimaginable.  It wasn’t simply that we elected the first African American President to office – which itself was an undoubtedly remarkable moment.  But it was primarily the push that took place prior to hitting the voting booth; the momentum that literally changed the course of this country that truly transformed us.  It was, after all, the people that organized and mobilized for change.  It was the record-breaking number of voters that turned out on Election Day ’08 and stood in line for hours in order to exercise one of their most basic rights as Americans that resulted in this change.  And It was the enthusiasm and intense involvement of the body electorate that created one of the most engaging Presidential elections ever.  It is time for us to reinvigorate those very sentiments.

Labor Day in political terms is chiefly marked as the unofficial start to the fall campaign cycle.  Less than two months away from the coveted mid-term elections, we are guaranteed to witness an up in the ante of hate rhetoric, attacks against the President, vitriol hurled at Democrats and an overall hostile environment.  In an attempt to garner as many seats in both the House and Senate, Republicans will and already are pulling out all the stops to discredit President Obama and those that push for progress.  Engaging in fear-mongering and other disruptive tactics, many of these politicians will say just about anything in order to rile up their base and get voters to the polls.  Therefore, those of us that choose to progress and not regress, cannot sit idly at home come November.

Imagine for a moment if the youth of America weren’t actively involved in organizing and voting for change in ’08.  What would have happened if there wasn’t a historic voter turnout on Election Day?  Just try to picture if you will, what our country would be like if John McCain was President and Sarah Palin Vice President?  No one is saying that we should never question President Obama or any other elected official; critiquing those in authority is one of our duties as Americans.  But we must remember that there is a massive difference between critiquing and between becoming unengaged in the entire process.

Last year, we witnessed the dangerous effects of remaining apathetic and uninvolved in elections.  The state of NJ – a long time Democratic state – elected Chris Christie for Governor and hence went Republican for the first time in a dozen years.  Elections have serious consequences.  Campaigns signify the sentiments of their respective Party.   With so many seats up for grab across the country in November, we cannot afford to sit at home.  We may have elected the first African American President, but we cannot think that our responsibility as citizenry ends there. 

At a speech in Milwaukee the other day, the President reminded us not to relive the past.  I echo that sentiment.  We must continue progressing.  But we cannot simply demand progress, we must push and fight for it ourselves.  So why not do so in the biggest battlefield we have – the voting booth.