Why Vote?

 

By Randy Cunningham

            We are hard core activists working in the electoral arena.  We’ve got the talking points. We’ve got the walk lists.  We’ve got the voting records of voters going back sixteen years for each precinct.  We’ve got the polling data that makes us depressed or elated.  We are the ones who know what is going on.

            All this confidence crumbles when you go to a door, knock on it and talk to the person who answers, and they say, “No, I don’t vote.”  “Why don’t you vote?” “Because it doesn’t matter. My vote does not matter.” That usually ends the conversation, and as you walk to the next door you shake your head and ponder why the person you talked to does not care what happens to them after the election or is just terminally disillusioned.  Those are easy responses that people in the know, people like you, feel comfortable with. 

            The most important characteristic of the American political system is how few people participate in it.  Which asks the question just how real American democracy is, or is it just a fraud, a lie and a con job.  Which is pretty much the attitude of non-voters.  And what stops us dead in our tracks is that many of us agree that it is a con job.  We see the machinations of the two parties to suppress dissent in their ranks. We see the oceans of money that have made our elections into little more than auctions.  We see how the need to “feed the beast” on the part of the media distorts the news and makes us more ignorant in the name of making us more informed.  It is not hard to be cynical about American politics.  It is easy.  If we sat down with a non-voter and a six pack of beer and we discussed why America’s politics suck, we would be surprised at how much we agreed on by the time we finished the last beer.

            However, we vote, and we urge others to vote because the bastards who run the system have not stomped all hope out of us and we know their sin is not as great as the sin of not using every opportunity we have to oppose them and make American democracy a reality.  We know that the greatest sin is to make the dream of those who run our society come true.  That dream is to allow our rulers to complete the task of turning us into field hands on a corporate plantation.  If we give up, they win.

            Why vote? Because those who want to wipe their feet on you don’t want you to vote.  They show that they don’t want you to vote by doing end runs around democracy like Cleveland City Hall did with the Fight for $15 that denied you the right to vote on that initiative.  Remember how they fought us on our effort to get the Q proposal on the ballot?  They show that they don’t want you to vote with ever more complicated schemes to suppress the vote.

Vote because it shows that you have not given up on the one thing that they hate to bottom of their souls – democracy. 

Vote because you want democracy to be real and not just an empty slogan. 

Vote because you are a citizen and being a citizen demands action. 

Vote because you are not one of those poor suckers who bitch and complain about things but do nothing to change those things. 

Vote for those who cannot vote and have no voice. 

Vote because it is a thumb in the eye of those who want to play god. 

Vote because they want you to think that you do not matter, that your wishes do not matter, and that your dreams do not matter. 

Vote because it is an act of rebellion. 

Vote because it really pisses off those who want to turn this country into a tyranny.  

Not voting says that you are a nobody.  Be a somebody.  Vote.  

Randy Cunningham is a Steering Committee member of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus.  His book Democratizing Cleveland: The rise and fall of community organizing in Cleveland OH 1975-1985 has just been republished by Belt Publishing.

Tuesday primary success for many CCPC-endorsed candidates

More than half of the baker's dozen candidates endorsed by the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus in Tuesday's primary election have advanced to the general election.

Endorsed candidates who will continue toward the November election include Sherrod Brown (US Senate), Betsy Rader (US Congress 14th district); Nickie Antonio (Ohio Senate District 23); Kenny Yuko (Ohio Senate District 25); Kent Smith (Ohio House District 8); Mike Skindell (Ohio House District 13); and Cassimir Svigelj (Ohio House District 16).

A majority of the winning CCPC-endorsed candidates emerged from contested primaries. The primary for Ohio Senate District 23 drew substantial media attention, and looked to be a close race for much of Tuesday evening before Antonio pulled ahead with overwhelming support from Lakewood, her home and that of CCPC's headquarters. Though a write-in opposition candidate will challenge Antonio in November, she is likely to become the first openly gay member of the Ohio Senate next year.

Current state Senator Mike Skindell, whose race was listed among Capitol Letter's "top Ohio legislative primary races to watch," wrote on Wednesday morning "I also want to thank the… organizations who fight daily for working people and who supported our campaign," including CCPC.

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CCPC supports Issue 1 and fair redistricting

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus formally endorses Issue 1, on the primary ballot this May 8.

Amid a busy primary season for CCPC, this endorsement has not had tremendous fanfare. The inclusion of Yes on Issue 1 on a sample ballot, recently mailed by some of CCPC's endorsed candidates, seems as good a moment as any to confirm the endorsement and add a few words about CCPC and the Fair Districts campaign.

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2018 Candidate Endorsements From CCPC

For Immediate Release –

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus is proud to announce its candidate endorsements for the May, 8 2018 Primary Election.

CCPC is a bottom up grassroots activist organization. All of our candidate endorsements have been determined by a vote of our membership which concluded Thursday, February 15.  If only one candidate applies for an endorsement membership still votes to approve or disapprove the endorsement.

Many of CCPC's endorsements are different than the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party endorsements which were selected nearly a month ago, weeks before the filing deadline, by an elite group of party insiders known as the Executive Committee. Half of this Executive Committee is actually appointed by the Party Chair. The differences between CCPC's endorsed candidates and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party's endorsed candidates in certain races can perhaps be attributed to the difference between an open bottom up process and a closed top down process.

CCPC endorsed candidates are:

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11 CCPC-endorsed candidates win Nov. 2017 contests

Eleven* candidates endorsed by the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus finished Nov. 7, 2017 ahead in votes. This adds up to success for more than half of our endorsed candidates, in the first full election year of CCPC's existence!

Congratulations to all of the successful candidates:

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A Cleveland Spring? One Year later

Part 1: The Year that Was.

A year ago, in the aftermath of the Republican National Convention in 2016, I wrote an essay that asked if Cleveland was experiencing a “spring” of insurgent activism.  Was the civic ice age we had been living in since the era of Kucinich, finally melting?  After a frenetic year of activism in Cleveland – largely inspired by the horror of the Trump victory – it is time for an assessment. 

The Horror, the Horror

The sum of all our fears came true with the election of Donald Trump as President.  People were stunned at the abrupt cancellation of Hillary Clinton’s coronation.  Hillary – the amazing living resume – did not take the oath of office, but America’s Monster from the Id, did. 

The response from the progressive community resembled the panicked residents of Houston and Florida racing to board up buildings and stock up on supplies.  In Cleveland, the local version of the Women’s March in DC was the largest demonstration to ever occur in Cleveland history.  15,000 people gathered and marched from public square.  It was to be the start of a train of demonstrations, rallies and protests that has continued to the present. 

On the ground, groups mobilized for war.  Organizations experienced a surge in new members and volunteers.  New organizations such as the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, and Indivisible organized on the run and had to confront the fortunate problems of starting an organization, while being mobbed by new members.  Even the local of Democratic Socialists of America experienced a surge of interest. 

Meanwhile, representatives of the Democratic Party mainstream tried to rationalize the unexplainable.  It was all Bernie’s fault!!  It was the white working class! They are just a bunch of racist Neanderthals!! Why can’t they think and act like college professors?  And this is how they show their gratitude for NAFTA!  It was misogyny.  It was the Russians.  It was Jill Stein.  Left out of the list of the guilty, however, was Clinton Inc and its flacks who drove the party into a ditch.  Or that Obama won two federal elections in a row, while the Democratic Party in the states collapsed.  Nope.  It was all the Russians’ fault. We were blameless. Hillary in 2020! Get your bumper stickers now.

The problem with the response aka The Resistance, is that it is centered on the man, Donald Trump.  As loathsome as he may be, he is but the ultimate outcome of the past 50 years of American politics and society.  No one wants to talk about that, because they might have to recognize the many authors of this disaster on both sides of the political divide.  That dirty job must start however, or we will never get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.  But first we must quit digging.

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CCPC Statement on referendum petitions' withdrawal

For Immediate Release - Last Monday activist groups in Cleveland appeared to achieve one of the greatest victories ever in the history of grassroots organizing. A Bloomberg News article Wednesday reported "Shocking: This might be the first example where pressure from a public referendum defeated a stadium finance deal already in place, according to Ted Gayer, a stadium tax expert and vice president and director of economic studies at the Brookings Institute."

It appears the Greater Cleveland Congregations have stolen that victory from us. Although GCC may have had a legal right to negotiate a deal and withdraw the referendum petitions they had a moral obligation to at least consult with CCPC and the other activist organizations that helped gather the 20,000 signatures before any deal was made.

We are extremely disappointed in today's turn of events which has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. We'll be holding a Press Conference with Cleveland Mayoral Candidate Jeff Johnson this afternoon at 4:30 at the Northeast corner of East 105th & St. Clair in front of the clock tower.

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Senator Rob Portman's "License to Pollute" Bill

On Thursday, August 31 at 10:00 a.m., the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition and Cleveland Environmental Action Network will join community advocates to denounce the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), a bill authored by U.S. Senator Rob Portman.

The RAA could be the most dangerous bill no one has heard of. While Senator Portman claimed to support the Great Lakes and Ohioans health, his RAA bill could make it difficult for the EPA to protect this vital body of water and Ohio’s air quality. The bill could make the U.S. government a “rubber stamp” for corporate polluters looking to lower safeguards for children’s toys, clean air and water, labor standards, the opioid epidemic, and food.

Speakers will include:

  • Kent Smith, State Representative, Ohio's 8th District
  • Randy Cunningham, President of Cleveland Environmental Action Network
  • Yvonka Hall, Executive Director Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition
  • Mike Foley, Sustainability Director, Cuyahoga County
  • Steve Holecko, Political Director, Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus

Location:
The Free Stamp at Willard Park

Corner of Lakeside Avenue East and East 9th Street
Cleveland, OH

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CCPC Statement on Q Deal's Cancellation

For Immediate Release -

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus is very pleased that the Cleveland Cavaliers have decided to cancel the Quicken Loans Arena Renovation Project.

Despite their stated reason for the cancellation, the real reason is that the citizens of Cleveland spoke loud and clear in their opposition to the project by gathering 13,000 valid signatures to force a referendum on the issue. The Cavaliers, Mayor Jackson and Cleveland City Council all know that the project would have been soundly defeated at the ballot box. This is their way of saving face.

 

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Validation of the Q Referendum Petition Signatures

For Immediate Release - The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus would like to thank the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for their work this last week, in the validation of the 20,000 signatures, submitted by Cleveland citizens asking for a Referendum on the Q Renovations Ordinance passed by Cleveland City Council last April.

With the Referendum now a certainty, CCPC would like to reiterate our position that this issue needs to be on the November ballot. It is a senseless waste of $760,000 of Cleveland taxpayer money to hold a special election, when Cleveland City Council can simply schedule a meeting before the regularly scheduled September 18 meeting to get it on the November ballot.

We urge City Council to schedule this earlier meeting and not waste $760,000 that can be better spent in the neighborhoods that need help. We ask this question: If Mayor Jackson and the Cleveland City Council members who voted for the Q Renovations really feel that a majority of Cleveland citizens believe that this is an appropriate use of $88 million of taxpayer money, why would they not want it on the ballot as they campaign for re-election? What are they afraid of ?

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