How Troy Davis’ Death Affected my 2012 Vote

I am a proud independent voter. I neither kowtow nor subscribe exclusively to any one political party, and that is something I take great satisfaction in. I see merits in the Tea Party’s opinions, the logic of the Republican Party’s view on economics, and appreciate the overarching compassion of the Democratic Party. I am one of those voters who keeps politicians guessing, and fortunately, I am in the majority; as it should be. A politician should never be able to bank on votes solely on the advantages of political allegiance. Unquestioned allegiance is a breeding ground for corruption.

As an independent voter, I have been very displeased with Barack Obama’s leadership as President. I think Mr. Obama is a fine, eloquent man and a great husband and father, but I also think he is unsuited to serve as leader of the free world in these perilous times. If this were a time of peace and prosperity, he would go down in history as an excellent president. Sadly, history will remember him as mediocre, unless he makes real changes. His policies have been proven to kill jobs, and he has not been largely unsuccessful in getting congressional members on either side of the aisle to work together to solve crucial matters, such as the debt ceiling debate.  In fact, he was nothing more than an observer during the entire debacle.

I understand that this President has been a divisive figure from the onset, in part because of some Americans’ prejudices, but he also divisive because of his policies, many of which rub many fiscal and moral conservatives raw. The fact that he initially chose to exclusively tackle healthcare and spun it as a (failed) vehicle for job creation has not helped him in my view at all. When president Obama came into office, unemployment was an 7.9%. He said if he enacted certain measures, it would never go above 8%. Those measures miserably failed, and today unemployment rests stubbornly at 9.1%.

With all this in mind, I decided early that I was going to start ‘shopping’ other candidates and give them serious consideration for 2012 in lieu of Mr. Obama, with the economy as my major determinant. Michelle Bachman is not a serious enough figure to even get my attention, let alone my vote. There have been no noteworthy Libertarians (like Bob Barr) on the playing field to capture my imagination, and in view of the dearth of options, I turned my attention to Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. I looked at their economic policy and philosophy and decided that they were sound. The results in each of their states speak for themselves. And Romney looks presidential – with his crisp suits and politically coiffed hair. I could care less about his Mormon faith; after all President Obama sat at the feet of Jeremiah Wright, who has his own list of unfavorable and “unacceptable” foibles. What’s a little celestial marriage when compared to Jew hating? I could get behind a Romney/Perry or Perry/Romney ticket.

And then there was a debate.

“Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times,” NBC’s Brian Williams told Perry as the conservative audience broke into cheers and applause. “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

“No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” Perry flatly stated. “In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed.”

The audience again cheered at Perry’s mention of “the ultimate justice.”

“What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?” Williams asked.

“I think Americans understand justice,” Perry explained. “I think Americans are clearly in the vast majority of cases, supportive of capital punishment. When you have committed heinous crimes against our citizens, and it’s a state-by-state issue, but in the state of Texas, our citizens have made that decision, and they made it clear, and they don’t want you to commit those crimes against our citizens, and if you do, you will face the ultimate justice.”

For the record, I am FOR the death penalty, but this particular exchange gave me pause. I can only support the death penalty if there is irrefutable proof that the person being put to death actually committed the crime for which he is about to be punished. It has to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. In order for that to happen, hundreds, if not thousands of man hours doing investigations and witness interviews would have to be exhausted. The pursuit of evidence and irrefutable proof takes up many resources – and it would not be a stretch to consider that sum cost of those resources would number in the millions of dollars. I highly doubt that Texas invested that much money in their investigation of these 234 convicted killers. I am confident that Rick Perry has sent many an innocent man to his death.

Today, the state that I live in, Georgia, sends Troy Davis to his death at 7:00 pm. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave on Mars, you’re by now well aware of the controversy surrounding his execution: The dogged refusal of the police to consider any other suspects. The witnesses recantation of their original version of events. The revelation that these witnesses say they were pressured by police to point the finger at Davis. And then Mr. Davis’ own maintenance of his innocence for these 20+ years. Despite the lack of physical evidence and in the face of record witness retraction, Georgia is going to execute a potentially innocent man. There is too much reasonable doubt to put this man to death.

The widow (Macphail) of the slain police officer is eager to see Mr. Davis die. She will not hear of any talk of a case of mistaken identity. She says she wants closure, and she cannot move on with her life until Troy Davis dies. I feel for her, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my husband gunned down while in the service of his community. But I cannot imagine that she is going to feel any better if there is the possibility that the man who is about to be executed did not kill her husband. This is something I would want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, and again, there is just too much doubt.

However, Mrs. Macphail’s sentiments are typical of many of those in our nation: and that is someone has to pay for this gross injustice. Troy Davis looks guilty enough, and that appearance is apparently good enough to fry him. I have tried to steer away from race as I look into this case, but it keeps biting me in the nose. The parallels and the dynamics between this case and Casey Anthony will not let me look at this result outside of the lens of race. Does reasonable doubt in America work differently if you’re young, white and female? Perhaps it does.

Tonight, a Black man, someone’s son and brother is going to be murdered by the state of Georgia, with far too many questions and not enough real answers. The Savannah judge presiding in his most recent appeal called the defense’s new evidence nothing but “smoke and mirrors”. With all due respect judge, this is not a magic show – this is a quest to save a potentially innocent man’s life.

As the mother of a Black son, this is frightening for me. I have always feared rearing a boy in this country, because America is hostile to Black men, and probably always will be. There was a time in this country that if you were a Black man who kept his head down and eyes averted, you could survive – possibly even thrive. But a Black man is still a MAN, and no man can live that way forever. I certainly don’t want to raise my son that way, and I certainly don’t want him to live in a country who has at its helm a president who at his core wouldn’t bat at eyelash at taking his life despite the real probability of his innocence. I don’t know Troy Davis personally, and I’ll wager that he does not have a squeaky clean past. I’m just saying that just because he smells like smoke doesn’t mean he set the fire. I’m not convinced that the police did their due diligence in saying who did.

So when I go to the polls next year, I will hopefully have a choice in a candidate who is fiscally savvy as well as fair minded and objective when it comes to death or at the very least, does not possess a blood lust, as Rick Perry does. Because at the end of the day, what’s the benefit of an economic recovery when you that know as a certain ‘type’ of citizen your government could care less whether you lived to enjoy those benefits?