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  • Dr. Julianne Malveaux

A COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY


The North Carolina NAACP President, Rev. William Barber, tore it up and then

threw down in a powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 28 th . He

called on those assembled to be a “moral defibulator of our time”, to shock our nation

with the power of love and morality. Rev. Barber did not use the word “endorse”, but

urged delegates to “embrace” Clinton, and his rousing rhetoric was challenging and

inspirational

Rev. Barber is a committed and tenacious activist. He founded the “Forward

Together Moral Movement”, and has organized “Moral Mondays” in North Carolina.

For the past three years, Moral Monday activists have gathered in Raleigh, North

Carolina, and used protest and civil disobedience to shine light on the many ways North

Carolina has attempted to erode voting rights, and move the state backwards on economic

justice issues.

“When I hear Hillary’s voice and positions,” Barber said, “I hear and I know she

is working to embrace our deepest moral values, and we should embrace her,” he said.

“She nor any person can do it alone. The watchword of this democracy is ‘we.’”

What are we, the people going to do in the aftermath of the political conventions?

Some have said they will stay home, but watching the difference between the gathering

of Democrats and that of Republicans should remind us that staying home should not be

an option. Stay home, and leave our choice of leadership to others? Stay home and co-

sign the hateful comments Mr. Trump made during his convention? Rev. Barber has

called the democratic watchword “we”, and Hillary Clinton talked about Democratic

inclusiveness, which contrasts with that we observed with Republicans. What are “we”

going to do?

President Barack Obama set Secretary Clinton up nicely with his Wednesday

evening speech, singing her praises and passing the baton. She caught the baton handily,

offering a speech that exceeded my every expectation. The speech was full of grit and

grace, humor and humility, respect and reaching out to the Bernie folks. Not

only could I hear the glass ceiling shattering, but also I hoped that the world

could see this woman as Commander-in- Chief.

Rev. Barber reminds us, though, that we are all part of the “we the

people”. He reminds us that we are only committed to democracy when we

are actively involved in it. It’s not just about a convention, or a vote. It is

about an imperative to transform a system that is flawed. Rev. Barber talked

about the Fight for Fifteen, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the

missing morality in our nation now. Even as he urged us to embrace Hillary,

he also urged us to embrace justice.

President Obama reminds us that democracy can be frustrating and

messy. Rev. Barber reminded us that it can also be moral and loving if we

make the collective decision to rally around key principles, to engage in the

process of compromise, and if we understand that democracy is practiced

with more frequency than every four years.

Voting is not the most we can do; it is the least we can do. Real

democracy exists when people like Rev. William Barber gather people

weekly to fight for voting rights, when he speaks up with regularity on the

need for political and economic transformation. We exhibit our commitment

to democracy when we hold our leaders accountable, when we pressure

them to do the right thing, when we remind them of their campaign

promises.

Those Bernie Sanders supporters who choose to remain engaged in

the political process have the responsibility to continue to push their

progressive agenda at the national, state, and local level. Indeed, they honor

their movement and their struggle by continuing the feel a burning desire for

social and economic justice. To take their marbles and go home because

their candidate did not win suggests that they are committed to personality,

not democracy.

Our system is far from perfect, but it’s the system we have. We can

change it if we are committed to democracy. Or, we can accept

imperfections if we eschew activism.

Thank you Hillary Clinton for reminding us of your service. Thank

you, Rev. Barber for reminding us that Secretary Clinton won’t be able to

achieve much unless we work with her. If you can listen to William Barber

and fail to get fired up, you have truly embraced apathy. Barber is a role

model because of his fierce commitment to democracy.

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are

We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available via

www.Amazon.com for more information visit www.juliannemakveaux.com


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© 2017 by Dr. J. Malveaux