Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

“The politics of oppression.”

Most presidential elections concentrate on the candidates, their words, their position, and perhaps more importantly, their persona. Of course, we don’t really know these people, but thanks to modern communications, we think we do. They are, in reality, familiar strangers.

We see them on commercials or on televised interviews, but the real object in the political democracy should be the people, for without voters, how could elections be held? Average people are often ignored while the rich are courted like lovers.

What few pay attention to, however, isn’t just average people, but the nature of politics. For the rich and powerful, they perform transactional politics, or to simplify, they treat their votes as part of a transaction and demand, “For my vote, I want X.”

For poor and seemingly powerless people, they demand nothing. They practice effective or emotional politics. That means they vote based on how a candidate makes them feel. Being poor and seemingly powerless, they demand nothing, for they feel that they’re unworthy of taking such a position. They want help, not power.

In this way, class consciousness informs our political systems, and the poor and dispossessed are repeatedly disappointed with the politicians they vote for. That’s because they vote for who they like, not what that candidate has promised them.

This politics of betrayal has left many voters feeling like they can’t trust any politicians, for they only lie, get in, and do what they want to anyway. They wonder why can’t anything work out, because most people demand nothing. How can we be surprised when we get nothing in return?

Effective or emotional politics is the politics of children. Transactional politics looks at politics coldly and makes demands, and if those demands aren’t met, they exact a political consequence.

From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-jamal.

These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.