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Malcolm X: “Don’t Be A Chump”

According to a new AARP poll, 79% of Americans (and 61% of Republicans) now favor the creation of a public plan. 

This morning a commenter quoted Malcolm X’s "The Ballot or the Bullet" speech.  It eerily evokes our present situation:

[A]ny block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. You’re — You’re in a position to determine who will go to the White House and who will stay in the dog house. You’re the one who has that power.


[I]n the House of Representatives, there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republican. In the Senate there are 67 Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The Party that you backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and still they can’t keep their promise to you, ’cause you’re a chump.


These Northern Democrats are in cahoots with the Southern Democrats. They’re playing a giant con game, a political con game. You know how it goes. One of them — One of them comes to you and makes believe he’s for you, and he’s in cahoots with the other one that’s not for you. Why? Because neither one of them is for you, but they got to make you go with one of them or the other. So this is a con game. And this is what they’ve been doing with you and me all these years.


So it’s the — it’s the ballot or the bullet. Today our people can see that we’re faced with a government conspiracy. This government has failed us. The senators who are filibustering concerning your and my rights, that’s the government. Don’t say it’s Southern senators. This is the government; this is a government filibuster. It’s not a segregationist filibuster. It’s a government filibuster. Any kind of activity that takes place on the floor of the Congress or the Senate, that’s the government. Any kind of dilly-dallying, that’s the government. Any kind of pussy-footing, that’s the government. Any kind of act that’s designed to delay or deprive you and me right now of getting full rights, that’s the government that’s responsible.

There are 257 Democrats in the House today, only 178 are Republicans.  In the Senate, Democrats will soon have 60 votes and will not be vulnerable to filibuster by the GOP alone.

As you listen to leaders and to institutions in the coming days and evaluate what they are telling you about health care reform, and you try to discern who represents your interests and who does not, remember one thing:  

Don’t be a chump.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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