Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Power of the Vote

Poverty affects more than 38 million people in America.

 A report for the Poor People’s Campaign of the country’s 63 million registered low-income or poor voters, 34 million did not cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election.

“If the low-income electorate showed up at the same participation rate as high-income voters, it could swing the election in 10 states that were previously Republican, and five states that were previously Democrat,” said Robert Paul Hartley, the study’s author and a professor of economics at the Columbia School of Social Work.

An increase of at least 1% of the non-voting, low-income electorate would equal the margin of victory in the 2016 presidential election in Michigan or a 4% to 7% increase in states such as Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin,” the study notes.

But low-income and impoverished voters still have to turn out, and first they must register to vote. Voter turnout reached a 20-year low in 2016. But 2020 represents an unprecedented year marked by a pandemic, a recession and racial uprising following the killing of George Floyd which has sparked a surge among mostly, young and progressive Americans, many of whom will be voting for the first time.

Shelton McElroy of Louisville is one of them. Formerly incarcerated, McElroy was disenfranchised until the Kentucky governor pardoned him. Now associate director of operations for the Bail Fund, McElroy says this election is about making sure his children see their father as an example of using your voice and vote as power.

“We want to vote for people who actually share our interests,” he said. 

The worsening coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 5 million Americans, killing nearly 160,000. The crisis has disproportionately hit Black, Latino and indigenous Americans, especially those who are poor or low-income. More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic hit. As the economic disaster bites deeper many expect a housing crisis to follow. The Aspen Institute estimates between 30 million and 40 million people “could be at risk of eviction in the next several months”.
The Rev William Barber, the Poor People’s Campaign’s national co-chair, argued that although poverty has rarely been front and center in presidential campaigns trail, that’s now changing.
“Poor people were in a depression before Covid. They are saying we won’t be ignored any more,” he said. “So the question is will poor and low-wealth Americans have a major place on the ballot and conventions? So we are challenging both parties to say you cannot ignore poor and low-wealth families any more.” Barber added, “Changing the political landscape is critical,” he said. “The interlocking injustices that must be addressed simultaneously, that’s systemic racism and systemic poverty, are not marginal issues.”

1 comment:

Mike Ballard said...

That's about right. The wealth we produce for wages should be used to benefit us. The bourgeois who run the governments better start paying attention to the needs of the producers and stop listening to their whiney little conservative chumps who just want to hog the pie.