A Party Pooped

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: Live from Death Row, Death Blossoms, and All Things Censored. A biography, On A Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal, details his life.

What is a political regime, when devoid of justice, but organized crime?
—St. Augustine (354–430 C.E.)

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Every election season, here they come.

Like a herd of beefalos with dentures, politicians run down to Chocolate Town, smiling ear to ear, with mouths full of promises of solutions to every problem that was ignored in the year before.

For the first or second time of the year, urban residents are addressed as “democrats,” or as “citizens,” something that they have every reason to ignore the rest of the year.

The lessons of Florida should be as clear as a neon sign on a Las Vegas strip at night. Neither the ‘Party of Lincoln’ nor the ‘Party of Working Families’ gave much of a damn about the thousands of African-American, Haitian or even Jewish voters who were brutally disenfranchised during the recent presidential elections.

That fact, in addition to being disturbing, is just plain curious. Why would any political party remain virtually silent when it’s members are denied the fundamental right to vote? Doesn’t that sound—well—crazy?

Political scientists have determined that the parties, especially the Democrats, are so compromised by the divergent interests of its members (who come from differing social and class strata) that the party doesn’t really want new poor and working-class members and party voters.

Frances Fox-Piven and Richard Cloward, in their incisive The New Class War: Reagan’s Attack on the Welfare State and Its Consequences (Pantheon; 1982; 1985 exp.) have determined that party leaders have no real interest in expanding the party, especially at the social bottom:

If the Democratic leadership was unwilling in the past to risk the internal disruptions caused by a massive inflow of new voters, it is less willing today. Developments over the last two decades have made new voters more politicized and more contentious. The role of big business contributors in the party has grown. And finally, party professionals determined to recapture the control they lost as a result of the McGovern reforms have not wanted to enlarge and politicize a class-based electoral constituency. (pp. 194-195)

Historian Manning Marable describes the Clinton years as one of “Liberal Republicanism.”

In this sense the silence surrounding Florida seems somewhat reasonable. For, if the party had really fought for the interests of thousands of African-Americans, Haitians, and Jews in Palm Beach, Hillsborough, and other counties, they would have energized, and indeed enlarged the pool of new voters. That is precisely what party bigwigs do not want.

The silence around Florida is a profound betrayal of the tens of thousands who were disenfranchised there. Their silence signifies their acceptance of your disenfranchisement.

Would you then reward such a betrayal?

If you accept such an indignity, then you are demonstrating that violating your rights is acceptable. Neither party deserves to profit from your indignity. Declare your independence from such a political obstruction.

As more and more folks declare themselves as independents, the hollow, rotten insides of the two corporate parties just wither away.

Then, perhaps these political hyenas won’t be able to make their annual pilgrimages to the inner cities, to promise you the moon, only to deliver space dust.

Original Publication Date: 05/14/01

Text ©2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

To communicate directly with Mumia write to him at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370