By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on August 18, 2018
America’s midterm elections will be held in November of this year. Many commentators think the elections will boil down to a referendum on Donald Trump and his pit bull style of presidential politics. After nearly two years in office, the Trump presidency looks more like an endless series of bizarre Jerry Springer TV shows than an exercise in leadership we can trust and respect. The constant name-calling, non-stop lying, utter display of gutter politics, unabated backstabbing among White House staffers, and early morning presidential twitter tantrums have left all Americans exhausted from drama fatigue.
As a result of this drama fatigue, a lot of voters across the nation seem to be disengaging from the political process. They think the outcome of the midterm elections will not favorably impact the quality of their lives, no matter who wins the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the 34 Senate seats that are up for grabs. They are sadly mistaken.
Of course, I will be voting in the November midterm elections for the federal, state, and local candidates of my choice. My African-American ancestors paid an unimaginable price in blood, beatings, and death to secure my right to vote in America. To me, the right to vote is sacred.
As an independent voter, I will be voting for the candidates whose core values are closest to mine. I have written on many occasions that my personal value system was passed down from: (a) my paternal grandparents, Adam and Sallie Watkins; (b) my maternal grandparents, Reverend Willie Varnado and his wife Etta: (c) my parents, Levi and Lillian Watkins; (d) my siblings, Marie, Pearl, Levi, Jr., Doristine, and James; (e) and my family’s close friends and frequent overnight guests, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, and Mrs. Rosa Parks.
I live by the Watkins family value system everyday, and I have passed it down to my five children. They are passing it down to my six grandchildren. Hopefully, our family value system will be passed on to every successive generation in the Watkins family.
Our core family values are these:
1. We believe in God.
2. We believe that all men and women are created equal.
3. We believe that we should live our lives in a way that sets a good example for others to follow.
4. We believe that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their ethnicity, age, sex, religion, nationality, or socio-economic station in life.
5. We believe that we should always honor our fathers and mothers, as well as the many sacrifices they have made for the benefit of our families and communities.
6. We believe that a great education is the most important building block for success in life because superior knowledge is the strongest form of power on the planet.
7. We believe in public service as a civic duty, and it should be given without any expectation of a financial reward or public recognition.
8. We believe in setting personal and professional goals and working hard every day toward reaching these goals.
9. We believe that all citizens are entitled to equal rights under the law, an equal opportunity to compete on a level playing field for a successful future, and equal government services that are rendered free of corruption.
10. We believe in truth, honesty, and ethics in government and life.
11. We believe that government service should be a sacrifice, not a pathway to personal enrichment.
12. We believe in making the American system of governance and the administration of justice work for everybody.
13. We believe in freedom of speech, without fear of retaliation or reprisals.
14. We believe in standing up for deserving individuals who are not in a position to stand up to government or private sector tyrants.
15. We believe in participatory democracy, as opposed to the oligarchies that are spreading across America.
16. We believe in superior American military might and using it to keep our nation safe from foreign enemies.
17. We believe that constructive criticism is the most sincere form of loyalty.
18. We believe in apologizing when we make errors in judgment or mistakes that hurt innocent people.
19. We believe in learning something positive from our setbacks in life.
20. We believe in standing up for what is right, even if we have to stand alone.
My political independence cannot be bought, or bossed. Those blacks who came to America in the hellholes of slave ships, who were denigrated, separated, and dehumanized during slavery, who were burned alive and lynched during the 100 years of Jim Crow, who were beaten, tortured and murdered by segregationists during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, and who protected my life during the most dangerous years of my career as a civil rights lawyer in Alabama paid the price in full for my political independence. I will never surrender this independence to anyone at any time for any reason.
I do not live on any political party’s plantation. I left plantation politics in 2001, and never looked back. I love the freedom of thought and expression that comes with being a political independent.
I am not a political hustler. I do not take money from any political candidate, party, or political action committee. The views expressed in my library of online articles are my own, and not those of any candidate or party.
My political heroes are Fannie Lou Hamer, Maggie Bozeman, and Julia Wilder. I have yet to meet any politician or officeholder with the courage and dedication to participatory democracy that these women have exhibited.
Yes, I will be voting in the midterm elections. I know all too well the "evil" that emerges from the dark shadows of complacency when we do not exercise our right to vote.
PHOTO: Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) was an American voting and women's rights activist, community organizer, and a leader in the civil rights movement. She is a true American hero.