ISSN 2330-717X

The RAP Vote: Repudiation Of American Politics – OpEd


On Wednesday, July 4, Ricky “My-T-Mouth” Johnson, an obscure ghost lyricist in the rap-music world, and also an acquaintance from the early Occupy days, showed up at the porch of my historical townhouse at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. He had brought his family from Portland (Oregon) to see our famed fireworks’ display, he told me; and, knowing that I live here, maybe take time to rap a little about the upcoming presidential election.

Ricky sports a graduate degree in a natural science with over a decade working for a nonprofit involved in a sustainable aspect of the “keep Oregon green” mission. Thanks to his spouse’s income as a school teacher, his family remains a visible remnant of the fast-disappearing economic middle class. Unfortunately, his other job, or personal outlet for creativity, writing lyrics for rappers who market them as their very own barely covers, he claims, the cost of his tobacco habit… and he is in his third attempt in five years to quit the nicotine monster.

It was adulatory for me to hear Ricky say that he had read all my columns since October, when we met in Downtown Portland, and that he identified with most everything I had to say… except for the very last article where I emphatically stated that progressives should not help reelect Obama. Although he agreed wholeheartedly that Obama was a political Charlie Tuna, another incestuous child of the financial ruling class, the president was still a few degrees to the left of financial leeches like Romney. “Offer an alternative to follow, Ben,” Ricky told me, “and not just tell us what we already know; that Obama does not have the guts to tell Americans what they don’t want to hear: the truth.”

An alternative to follow! Certainly no viable “third party” candidates have entered the fray for this election year… and some of us remember the recent history of third party or independent candidates to the US presidency. In 1968, George C. Wallace, a former Democratic governor of Alabama, running on the American Independent Party (anti-Civil Rights disguised as states’ rights) received 13.5% of the popular vote. In 1980, Rep. John B. Anderson, an independent, received 6.6% of the popular vote. In 1992, Ross Perot, an independent, and anti-globalist, did receive 18.9% of the popular vote; however, in his 1996 attempt as candidate for the newly created Reform Party, he was only able to garner 8% of the popular vote… which might have been due in part to Clinton putting everyone in the household to work (in services at low wages) in exchange for the little broadcasted manufacturing jobs exported to China and elsewhere in the developing world. President Clinton also benefited from the phony-wealth being created through the dot-coms (1995-2000), which saw its bubbling crescendo pop by the time of the 2000 election, when he was no longer a candidate having served two terms.

It seems that for a nation populated by more than 300 million there is less progressive leadership to be found than anywhere else in the world, mostly confined to some fat professorial jobs in Academe with ornate pulpits and questionable credibility. Also, there appears to be little or no leadership emerging from the rank and file, few if any charismatic individuals from the lower and middle socio-economic strata. That was an easy conclusion that Ricky and I reached, and which I will be using as preamble to why progressives in America can no longer afford to surrender their vote. Better to have a greater and faster build-up in inequality with Republicans in charge for four, or even eight years, while progressives create a separate and strong voice in American society, totally disassociated from the Democratic Party, than have a Republican-lite occupant in the White House, under the auspices of an equally-corrupt Democratic Party, who is a captive of both the military and moneyed interests, be them corporate or private.

An hour past the witching 10 p.m. fireworks’ start, after a festive day of merriness and food, intercalated by patriotic music and songs coming from the distant loudspeakers, Ricky and I had graduated, over a cup of decaf, from acquaintances to friendship. In nine hours of intense conversation we had put together, or sketched, a blueprint for progressives to follow in this coming election.

Not only was Ricky pleased with the alternative blueprint tentatively drawn for progressives to follow in the November election, but his “My-T-Mouth” persona promised me a rap-lyrics contribution for the progressive cause to be published in my column to be used by rappers to drown the sounds coming from the mouths of jingoes the likes of country singer Hank Williams Jr.

I’ll be detailing the blueprint in my next column.

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Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn is a syndicated columnist. Over a decade ago he started writing a weekly sociopolitical column, 'Behind the Mirror,' hoping to bring new perspectives that would allow us to see ourselves with borrowed eyes. He can be reached at [email protected]

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