There’s no doubt that Saturday night I was as upset as most others after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. One can either have faith in the criminal justice system or not, but it is safe to say that most of those on the angry and disappointed side of this case are questioning the entire system, and not just juries (as some of my lawyer friends seem to think) in one individual case.
I won’t bother rehashing my interpretation of whatever evidence I saw when I was tuned in to CNN hoping for the news to be showing. But I will say this: If you want a change in the way courts are managed, in the way district attorneys commit to some cases and toss others to the side, and in the way juries are picked and instructed, then the only solution is to vote and stay involved.
If, like me, you have more of a fear of vigilantism and more outcroppings of armed civilian “neighborhood watch” programs, then vote and lobby your local and state elected officials to enact regulations for these type of programs. Don’t be railroaded with awful laws like “Stand Your Ground” and then complain after you didn’t vote or do enough to bring out the vote for elected officials who would fight against these laws. Stay involved.
Ultimately, it’s the vote.
As far as racism goes, we can’t do much about how adult individuals feel. The biggest mistake of liberals was that there was this thought that the election of Barack Obama somehow created a post-racial society. Far from it, obviously, whether one questions the existence of Tea Party politics or Obama’s deportation policies. The bottom line is that racism exists and it is more dangerous when unleashed through public policy. Vote! And stay involved!
The problem, then, becomes when that racism turns into public policy, especially under the guise of public safety or “personal defense.” The problem is when public officials incite fear in those who helped elect them by blaming everyone else and attacking others for crime, welfare (TANF, Medicaid, Medicare), Obamacare, women’s health care, unauthorized immigration, gay marriage, and other issues. The problem is when public officials incite hate in those who helped elect them to earn support for doing away with opportunity programs, such as the voting rights act, affirmative action, and the like. All in the name of their own self-victimization.
The solution is simple. Vote! And help get others out to vote! Stay involved!
Now, if you don’t vote, you may not lose the right to complain, but your voice surely won’t carry the same power as those who vote for those currently making policy–state legislatures and Congress. And when another Trayvon is stalked and murdered in the name of personal and neighborhood safety, we’ll be back to being angry all over again.
No one said democracy was easy, though. And those we elect may disappoint us for not fighting hard enough, delaying legislation in favor of other legislation, and copping to policy negotiations that may not get us the best policies, but while we can complain about the system, we must have faith in our individual votes. There’s always a “next” election in which we have the power, if only we realized our power as a people.
Are you registered to vote?
Did you move? If so, did you change your address on your voter registration certificate? Did you change the address on your driver’s license or state ID card?
You can find out how to get all of this done and truly become part of this democracy by going to VoteTexas.gov. Or drop me a message and I’ll send you to the right place.
There’s much more to discuss, obviously. But before we get to the nuances, let’s get back to being good citizens, get involved, register to vote, and make sure you stay registered! And stay involved.