All Articles Tagged "voters"
At this stage in the game, the only thing that should be undecided about the election is whether people on the east coast will be able to make it to the polls next Tuesday. As for the rest of the world who can’t decide which box they’ll be checking when it comes to determining the next President of the United States, I just have one question: What can you possibly be undecided about at this point?
I’ve been asking this question since before the Debates began this month, but I figured maybe some people approach their presidential candidate choice like sports and for them the Debates were like a championship or Super Bowl or World Series. Each man’s slate was wiped clean at that time and whatever he and his VP said and did during those four games/debates would be the basis for their choice. That’s not exactly how I would approach my decision, but hey, there are different strokes for different folks. Still, for as many people who made their voting decision based on the debates, we still saw a hefty number of individuals the very next day after the final debate and even up until today who claim they have no idea who’s the best man for the job. Really people?
Now one theory I have is these people just need attention and pretending they don’t know right from left is the only way they can get on TV. The way narcissism has run amok in our society, I wouldn’t be surprised if 99% of these so-called undecided Americans didn’t fall into that category of trying to make the candidates sweat in their boots and prove their worthiness down to the last minute because there’s no way after all of the campaigning and media coverage, you couldn’t at least be leaning far to side or the other. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, there are a good number of people who make their decisions at the last minute and for good reason.
Though a Gallup poll found overall just 4 percent of all likely voters were undecided at the beginning of the month, 22 percent of protestant pastors were undecided at that time, according to Lifeway Research. Scott McConnell, Director of the organization said:
“Most Americans wind up having to compromise something they want when choosing candidates, and that includes the presidential race. But pastors tend to be pretty definite in their beliefs and in the advice they give people from the Bible. They are not used to gray areas.”
I can certainly understand the religious element for ordained individuals but are there really that many gray areas when it comes to the average, everyday American? As political analyst and MSNBC host Alex Wagner hilariously pointed out on a recent episode of W. Kamau Bell’s “Totally Biased,” the choice for women is essentially, do you want to have control over your va-jay-jay and what goes in and comes out of it or not? For men who don’t have those same concerns I’d think the choice would boil down to, do you want to know what to expect for the next four years or do you want to just wing it and give Romney time to figure out his game plan somewhere down the line. Or for any undecided voters who are a part of that 47% of Americans that the Republican candidate said he doesn’t care about, I’d just like to know what the heck you’re thinking period.
Obviously I’m showing my political bias, but from the other side you could ask some iteration of those same questions. Do you want women to be able to get abortions when God intended them to have their baby and they weren’t legitimately raped? (Please read sarcasm.) Do you want to approach American life, i.e. economic growth and health care, the same way we have for the past four years? Do you give a eff about that 47%, or heck, do you want to take care of the 99%? Some of these questions are quite concrete as are the answers to them. If you’ve established a list of priorities and actually paid attention to this presidential race those questions should have been answered long before now.
Rectifying one’s religious beliefs with the stance of governmental leaders is no easy task, nor is it one that should be taken lightly – particularly if you are of a faith that believes when the earth and all things in it pass away, you still have God to answer to. But for other people who are just sort of out here winging it before Election Day, please let me into the mind of an undecided voter. Do you need attention or are you really that indecisive?
Yesterday I came across an article on NewsOne that I knew was going to dish out some hard truths just by looking at the headline. The title was, “Face it, Black American Enthusiasm for President Obama is Dead,” and in the piece, Dr. Boyce Watkins talks about the stark contrast between the zealous support African Americans had for Barack Obama in 2008 and the indifference most black voters have toward him today. At one point he writes:
“The Obama enthusiast is virtually dead. The number of black people running around with Obama t-shirts, putting signs in their front yard, and putting his picture on the wall next to Martin Luther King and Jesus has plummeted. Obama is not the iconic figure that he once was, no longer a rock star. Far fewer African Americans are begging the Obama campaign to let them join the team and we’re all too broke to give money. People like Obama, they respect him, and they are damn sure that he’s better than the Republicans. That’s about all they can say at this point.”
It’s true. If it weren’t for reminders from news outlets I would hardly remember that this is an election year and that we’re just about five months from needing to cast our votes and seal our American fate for the next for years. The excitement over Obama in 2008 was understandably different and far greater because we were all on pins and needles over whether we would truly see the first black president of the United States in our lifetime. Obama’s campaign’s hinged on the words hope and change for all Americans but as black people we had a special sense of expectation that surely with one of us in office, he’d have our back. But as soon as those thoughts left our minds and escaped our lips, we were chastised for expecting President Obama to look out for us when he had an entire nation to take care of, and quickly those hopes and dreams of change faded as we celebrated broader victories like the end of the war and the establishment of Obamacare. Yet, as Dr. Watkins points out, the feeling that Obama has looked out for everyone but us still lingers somewhat.
“Policies and action that have come forth to help the gay community, women, immigrants and other groups have flown over the head of black America, like Jay-Z performing in a city where black people can’t afford to buy tickets. But similar to the Jay-Z concert, some of us love Obama anyway, standing outside the arena hoping to catch a glimpse of our hero as he gets inside his limousine. Our job is to lift the throne and watch it, but we dare not ask the throne to give anything back to us.”
In some ways all of our “I voted for Obama because he’s black” talk has left us in a compromised position. Our support of the president is expected. He doesn’t have to work for it. He may have a few wounds to heal with segments of the community who are against his stance on gay marriage, but for the most part, black people who are not republicans will be voting for President Obama again, just not with the same enthusiasm as before perhaps. This time I get the feeling that the choice is more like, well, he’s better than Romney. And if you’re a woman who values your reproductive rights, this is the common sense choice.
To be fair, it would take a lot more to appease or aid the black community than a simple endorsement of an ideal, like Barack Obama’s declaration of support for gay marriage. I’m not even sure what policy or policies he could put in place to get our community back on it’s feet, and anything he did come up with would surely take more than four, eight, and probably twelve years to take root. What some in our community need is a paradigm shift, and that’s something that comes from within. It’s taught at home, somewhat learned in school, not handed down through legislature. But it wouldn’t hurt every now and then for a head nod or some acknowledgement that we’ve got a pretty tough plight and if anyone should be able to identify with that it should be Obama. But when you look at the racist situations he’s experienced and overlooked while in office, you can see why he’s made no such effort, and I don’t think it’s because he’s oblivious to it or unaffected by it. His plan of attack has always been to be the stand-up guy and let his character speak for itself as the baseless accusations fall by the wayside. And in that sense, he’s contributing something very valuable to the black community by being a leader who’s presidency hasn’t been wrought with scandal, thus far, and who hasn’t resorted to cheap tricks to stay in office or pass certain bills. By all means, he’s still an exemplary representation of a black man and that’s something we ought to always be excited about. If he gives us nothing else, he’s doing his job as the leader of a nation against tremendous odds and we may just have to accept that that’s all he has to offer us as black people in particular.
Are you less enthusiastic about President Obama this election season?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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By Charlotte Young
As discontent with President Barack Obama’s administration has steadily risen in the black community, Obama took the time to speak directly to black voters in an interview Monday night on BET News.
The Washington Post reports that the interview was “especially timely,” as it aired a day after Obama received negative feedback from members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the speech he gave at their annual dinner. In his speech, he urged caucus members to “stop complaining and march with him.”
Rep. Maxine Waters called his comments “curious” and told MSBNBC that the president “got off script and got a little bit beside himself.”
In Monday’s interview, Obama defended his record asserting that he is working hard to help those in the south side of Chicago to those living in Los Angeles barrios and Appalachia. But he remained firm in his stance to keep government programs issue-focused, as opposed to race, stating that “that’s not how America works.”
“And so when we put forward a program like, for example, the health-care bill, our focus is people who don’t have health care,” Obama said in the interview with BET News. “Now it turns out that the majority of folks who don’t have health care are also working families, and are disproportionately African American and Latino, but that doesn’t mean that it’s only for them.”
The black community has seen unemployment rates of 16.7 percent compared to the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. In response, the CBC accused the Obama administration of failing to focus African American concerns and launched a summer jobs tour.
Support for Obama has been slipping across all voter groups. Among African Americans, his 83 percent approval rating five months ago has dropped to 58 percent in a recent Washington Post-ABC news poll.
Obama recognized his administration failure to clearly communicate what they were doing to Americans and also relayed that he understands the frustration and impatience of Black Americans.
“Some of the things, though, that have been plaguing the African American community for too long, those things are going to take years to change,” he said.
(New York Times) — Despite contests for every statewide office for the first time in decades, a smaller share of eligible voters turned out two weeks ago in New York than in any other state. In fact, New York’s turnout was lower than in any midterm election for at least three decades. On the basis of unofficial returns, about 40 percent of registered New Yorkers voted on Nov. 2. But an analysis by the United States Election Project at George Mason University found that only 32.1 percent of the 13.4 million who were eligible — citizens 18 and older who are not convicted felons — actually voted.
Last week an estimated 3.5 million protesters took to the streets of France in protest of French President Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. Unlike Americans, the French feel a responsibility to counter any assault on the rights which they’ve fought so hard to win.
Here’s the difference between us and them; if you pull a French protester aside (as many news organizations have done) and ask him or her why they’re protesting, they’ll generally offer up a strong, salient, consistent answer. Herein lies the difference between French protests and American folly.
Let’s compare the French protesters with the Tea Party protesters who’ve been caught red-handed receiving government benefits while flailing against government spending or, in Christine O’Donnell’s case, running on a Tea Party platform- the overriding theme of which is an adherence to Constitutional principles, and then asking “where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?”
Intellectually, we’re a lazy lot. Each day, Americans robotically offer up their bodies and prostitute their minds on behalf of faultfinding corporations. Admittedly, this is hard work. And I am in no way minimizing the mind-numbing challenges faced by the hardest working people in the first world. But viewing this back and forth to work, or the occasional (and almost effortless) vote every two, four, or six years as sufficient acts of citizenship is a flat, one dimensional interpretation of life’s meaning and its accompanying responsibilities. Repositioning our psyche in such a way that we are continually responsive to life’s demand for constant inventiveness seems the only anecdote to our lethargy and garden variety foolishness.
It is not that the French are necessarily any smarter than us (although they’d like to think so), or that they will be any more successful in their protests than we’d be if we took to the streets with fiery lanterns and provocative homemade signs, but at least they’ve accurately framed the crisis. They have correctly cast market speculators as villains and themselves as victims in this melodramatic financial boondoggle. They realize that average global citizens were not the market wizards who encouraged blind risk at the expense of the entire financial system.
They’ve wrapped their heads around the fact that the massive amounts of wealth which were quickly accumulated by many players in the global financial sector were not shared with the public and thus, the public should not bear the expense. Cunning gamblers created the financial patchwork products which operated under the label of ‘derivatives’, many of whom were made multimillionaires by betting on these shadowy financial products. The unfairness is staggering.
Contrast this French outrage with American inertia. We live in a political environment where only the Tea Partiers are fighting (and I give them credit for doing something even if it’s not the right thing) and African Americans, once the moral barometer of this country, have exchanged objectivity for Obama.
So when MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell convenes a deficit commission comprised of former lawmakers and announces (like magic) that we can eliminate the deficit if we behave as grownups, face the facts, and raise the retirement age to 70, Americans shrug. France is fighting a raise in their retirement age from 60 to 62, and we’re acquiescing to 70.
In a country where only 16% of the public rates Congressional performance as good or excellent, our Bastille moment is imminent. Each day we’re nearer and nearer to our own flashpoint. Whether that moment devastates or empowers us will depend on both our psychological readiness and collective understanding of the events which lead us to this point. Sadly, going to work and going to vote just aren’t enough.
Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and GoGirlGuide.com.
(Black America Web) — Nearly two years ago, the “audacity of hope” worked for presidential candidate Barack Obama. But now, it’s time for President Obama and his Democratic operatives to kick the audacity part up a few notches.
(South Flordia Times) — The tea party movement sweeping the U.S. political landscape has benefited from voter mobilization techniques pioneered by the NAACP, and the nation’s oldest civil rights organization needs to rely on that outreach to fight back in the midterm elections, two NAACP leaders said Saturday, May 29. “I think they took a page out of our own play book, and we have to beat them at their own game. We ought to know how to meet them on the front line,” board chairman Roslyn Brock said in a town hall meeting at the NAACP’s annual youth leadership summit.