- Last Updated on 08:09 AM 12/05/12
- BY Melvin D. Whitlock
The Presidential Election of 2008 was the first time I participated in the voting process, and in that election, I voted on my convictions of personal beliefs. Socially and economically, then-candidate Barack Obama’s platform, contradicted the convictions and beliefs I held firm; as a result, I decided to vote for his opponent, John McCain.
As my position for not endorsing the first person of color to head a major party ticket, Barack Obama, became evident, I received a stern racial backlash from several older black Democrat-loyalists that I consider to be the “old guard” for black America.
I can recall an aunt calling me a “sell-out,” because I did not support the candidacy of Barack Obama in 2008. Despite growing up with her son, frequently visiting her home as a child, her political loyalty shifted her entire perception of who I was as a person.
I can recall another older relative, constantly going out of his way to make my political beliefs the ‘butt’ of poorly-constructed jokes during family functions.
More recently, I can recall workplace conversations with older adults of color, and their rhetorical questioning of how I could align myself with a party that “does not have the interest of average Joe?”
During the presidential campaign of 2012, I made the conscientious effort to register someone for the first time. I took a younger family member, who had turned 18 two months prior to the deadline, to register as a voter. After registering to vote, the family-member and I sat down for lunch and had a detailed discussion about a variety of topics, ranging from college to politics.
Throughout the political discussion with my younger family member, I had reflected on the manner in which I had been treated as a first-time voter by older family members. I also reflected on the lack of respect shown by the “old guard” toward me for having a non-Democrat voting base, and I determined that I would not repeat the same error in judgment that had been committed against me. I began to ask the non-rhetorical questions that I had hoped the “older guard” would have asked me when I began the voting process:
“Do you understand the issues?”
“Are you educated on both candidates and not just their party?”
“Do you understand how important your vote is and why?”
As the older person in the discussion, it was not my place or position to validate or invalidate a younger person’s right to vote; instead, my job as the older person was to discuss and engage why he or she felt a candidate was worthy of his or her vote.
As a result of ostracizing and demeaning non-Democrats of color, the “old guard” has unfairly attempted to monopolize the black race as an assured vote for the Democrat Party, and my desire is to become opposite of what has occurred to me.
After casting my vote for Mitt Romney-President, George Allen-U.S. Senate and Bob Goodlatte-Sixth Congressional District, I drove the person that I had registered to vote a month prior, who is my younger cousin, an hour to cast his vote in his registered district. Knowing his intentions to vote for the re-election of President Barack Obama, I explained to the young man how proud I was of him for taking part in the electoral process.
Just because the young man was not going to vote in favor of my candidate, I still wanted him to experience the sentiment that was never expressed to me by the “old guard;” and that being, taking part in the voting process matters more to me than how a person actually votes.
The young man and I have shared many moments together that involved the joys and disappointments of maturity; however, watching him vote for the first time was the most proud that I have been of him thus far.
Often neglected by the “old guard” is the importance of independent thinking in the voting process, and I am certain that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 promoted the independent opportunity to participate; as opposed to a monolithic tone of racially voting one way or the other.
The concluding point
My experience is one example of many, who have faced maltreatment by people in our communities and families for not following the voting status quo. My opposition of the Democrat base extends beyond its trial and error policies that bring little to no uplift; my opposition is mainly due to my belief that the party and its base, embrace a culture that presents a direct tone of anti-Christian sentiment.
Personally, I have my reasons that I cannot stand with the Democrat Party and its embracing of failed liberal ideals.
Nonetheless, I have concluded that respect for the individual right to vote surpasses any personal position I may hold on how I think a person should vote.
My reasons for opposing the platform of the Democrat Party does not, nor should it, reflect the position of the young man’s decision to vote for or against any particular candidate or party.
Unfortunately, the “old guard” has shown a terrible contradiction in teaching the important history for the right to vote, yet believing in dictating how one should or should not vote.
My goal is not to follow the example of the “old guard;” instead, I am in the hopes that the young man has learned to appreciate the right to vote as I have tried to teach him, regardless of my own personal beliefs.