Sharpton, Mosely-Braun Supporters: Stand On The Sidelines

By Bakari Akil II

Recently it was publicized that presidential hopeful, former US Senator Carol Mosely-Braun, is having an extremely hard time raising money and that her campaign organization is over a $100,000 in debt.

Meanwhile, financial disclosure statements from presidential hopeful Rev. Al Sharpton's campaign headquarters demonstrated that they only possessed $250,000 to run his campaign.

In contrast, presidential hopefuls such as Howard Dean, who has raised millions and Wesley Clark who raised over $1 million in a couple of days after making his entry into the Democratic race, are demonstrating that they will easily be able to pay for heavy exposure and creative marketing strategies to reach voters. Dean, Clark and others can also hire highly qualified staff members with valuable connections and the knowledge and experience necessary to create strong campaigns.

To those who may think that these contributions are coming from huge corporations, they are mistaken. According to an article published in the USA Today, Internet Donors Can Clean Up National Campaign Financing, most of the money raised by Dean was donated by individuals who contributed less than $200 and the lesser known candidate, US Senator Kucinich, has had relative success (in fundraising) from smaller donations as well. This means that individual citizens can make a difference.

Yet, candidates Sharpton and Mosely-Braun have been forced to depend upon what many in Black communities always rely on: sheer nerve, clever talk and faith in order to gain enough attention to make them viable and to help them achieve what many may view as an unachievable goal.

The Key Difference

There is one distinct difference that exists between the individuals who are behind candidates such as Dean, Clark and Kucinich as opposed to many who support Sharpton and Mosely-Braun. The difference is that Dean, Clark and Kucinich supporters jump into the fray and lend help to their "warriors" while supporters of Sharpton and Mosely-Braun stand by and watch their candidates get "slaughtered." Instead of being aggressive and committing wholeheartedly to the fight, win or lose, their supporters would rather wait and "see what happens."

A Simple Analogy

To put it more simply, this situation can be compared to two children, who I will call Child A and Child B, who are involved in a schoolyard fight. Both children have siblings and cousins who attend the school and are watching the brawl. Child A begins to struggle, so his brothers, sisters and cousins "jump in" and make Child B pay. Child B begins to get pummeled and instead of his relatives jumping in, they instead make comments such as:

Child B is a joke, let him suffer the consequences

What made Child B think he was going to win?

Child A and his family always win, so I'm not going to get involved

Let's act like we don't know Child B

Maybe if we speak ill of Child B, we will not be associated with him or her; and

I'm going to help Child A because he or she has the best chance of winning

As a result, Child B is left alone, without a defender or rescuer from his or her predicament and is severely injured or worse.

This is simplistic thinking at its best, yet it easily transferable to the candidacies of Carol Mosely-Braun and Al Sharpton. When observing the status of the Sharpton and Mosely-Braun campaigns, I observe patterns of irresponsible behavior in Black communities. This type of behavior is not just identifiable in many of the supporters of these two campaigns, because the apathetic and careless attitudes that are observable in this case are exhibited in general by many Black communities in relation to issues that are of vital importance to us. Lack of support and patronage of Black owned businesses, media and lack of participation in issues that affect us most such as education, police brutality and other civil and human rights issues prove that this is not a new phenomenon or an isolated incidence.

Yet, if Black communities would like to see these conditions improve, they cannot be idle and standby as others commit themselves to improving their conditions. The same behavior exhibited by the irresponsible relatives in the example above are the same behaviors exhibited by Black communities in reference to other Black people who are trying to promote and protect their interests. People who support the seven other prominent candidates (not Sharpton and Mosely-Braun) know that only one will win, yet they are willing to become involved, even if it turns out to be a losing effort. These people know, regardless of the outcome, that the issues that are important to them will be heard and that they will not allow themselves to be ignored or in some cases trifled with, without a fight.

What Are You Going To Do?

Therefore, in the final analysis, if you support Rev. Sharpton or former US Senator Mosely-Braun, you must ask yourself if you are going to be reactionary or will you actively seek to make a reality of what you wish to see occur. In other words, it's time to adopt an ideology that can bring about results and not more rhetoric. Standing on the "sidelines" is no longer an option if you are seriously interested in seeing existing conditions change.

Life is not a sporting event where we can wait and see what happens, and then come back to reality. Not only are we affected by political events, but so are our families, friends and communities. Therefore, we have to step forward and take responsibility, or suffer the consequences.

What You Can Do!

If you wish to take action, here's what you can do:

For Reverend Al Sharpton, click the link below and when you reach the page it will inform you on his campaign, issues and how you can contribute time, resources or money.

For former US Senator Carol Mosely-Braun, clink the link below and when you reach the page it will tell you how you can become involved through volunteerism or donations.

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