I hope people, whose opinions matter to me, don’t think I’m an Uncle Tom. That I am the Boodocks character Uncle Ruckus in Millennial female form. That I subscribe to Stacey Dash’s anti-black notions. That I fancy myself a Shad Moss, a self-designated multi-racial person whose race proclamations should beget a diminished expectation of furthering the civil rights struggle.
Not quite a week ago, my family and I changed our political affiliation from Democrat to Republican. My mother wrote an excellent op-ed about why. We were one of a handful of people in the Supervisor of Elections office in Downtown Jacksonville doing so at the time. We were the only black people, in that moment, doing so. We have been registered Democrats since registering to vote.
Florida, my home state, has closed primaries. Per the Fair Vote website, “in a closed primary, only voters registered with a given party can vote in that party’s primary.” Florida’s closed primaries reportedly date back to 1913. Similarly, some steps taken in connection with the state attorney’s race elicited critique.
As a family, we positioned ourselves to help elect a quality public defender. Yes, this means we cannot vote for certain Democrats in the primaries. It also means that we are not disenfranchised in a race that substantially affects black and brown people.
Personally, the temporary change conveys a willingness to survive. It reminds me that life, and progress, is deeper than labels. That some of the worst panderers can share party affiliation.
Overall, the experience reminded me of some other things:
- Democracy is bolstered by robust discussion and organized political action.
- It’s important to have people one trusts and with whom one can ideologically volley and seek counsel. (Spoiler alert: I’m always trying to soak up gems from elders.)
- It’s okay to not know every political manuever or repercussion immediately. This is where research comes into play.
- Politics can be engaged by diverse people and in diverse ways.
- Informed economic boycotts are an option. Example: My family loves to point out Hobby Lobby signs whenever we pass the craft store because I refuse to give the chain a penny. I read the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which covered a lot of ground, but essentially decided that a contraceptive mandate violated the company owners’ religious freedom. In other words, Hobby Lobby (and Conestoga a cabinet making company) does not have to pay for comprehensive health care for female employees. I view women’s health care as encompassing services including check-ups, mammograms, contraception and procedures for women who (for whatever reason) decide they do not want to carry offspring to term.
Anyway, the political change stirred a lot within me. My family and I will change our affiliation from Republican before the general elections. And despite one confused Donald Trump fan-boy sliding into my private messages, it is still very much #NeverTrump.