Political Prisoners

Beyond Politics

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

If TV channels are any measure, the U.S. presidential elections, now less than four months away, are the permanent stuff of headlines.

If candidate A sneezes, it’s breaking news; if candidate B hiccups, it’s film at eleven.

It’s hardly worthy of headlines, but the beast [the media] must be fed.

For far too many people this news overdose on the elections has bred a kind of passivity among millions, as they wait in front of TV screens and computers, like deer caught in headlights.

What happened to anti-war protests?

What happened to housing rights protestors?

What happened to anti-FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) activists?

People are dulled by the almost sure expectation that the Democrats will prevail in the next election due to the low ratings of the Republican Party, and its lame duck President George W. Bush.

And those dull expectations are based upon the totally unfounded faith that a Democratic win of the White House really means an end to the war. (We might ask, which war?)

Millions have apparently forgotten the bitter lessons from the 2006 mid-term election, when Democrats prevailed in congressional elections, formed a slight majority in both houses, and proceeded to do—nothing.

Peace in Iraq? Off the table. Instead, like lemmings leaping off a cliff they voted for more and more billions for war.

And what of the recently renewed FISA bill, which legalized the law-breaking of the Bush Administration—and gave retroactive protection to phone and communications companies which violated prior law?

FISA—signed, sealed and delivered: and even the Democratic candidate (Sen. Barack Obama, D.IL), who blasted the measure, put his John Hancock on it, voting “yes.”

The great abolitionist (and women’s right supporter), Frederick Douglass, supported Abraham Lincoln, yet that didn’t stop him from protesting against him, when he moved too slowly, or not at all. Reading his criticisms they are still biting, even though over a century has passed. And yet, his teaching remains just as relevant, for Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.”

If people demand nothing, that is precisely what they will get.

These lessons from history must teach us today, that protesters must PROTEST.

Elections aren’t endings—they are beginnings—and movements mustn’t stop moving; they should protest more!, July 23, 2008