For weeks the media covered “the races.” We were supposed to be riveted to unfolding democracy. Our candidates raced to the finish line, meeting, greeting, shaking eager hands, kissing babies, and accepting huge financial “gifts.” Suspense hung over televisions, newspapers, the net, until the “voice of the people” proclaimed their choice.
Where’s the Scam?
The actual number of Americans involved was surprisingly small, especially compared with the record money spent on this election, $4 billion.
Only 36.6 percebt of eligible voters voted; 63.4 percent didn’t bother to vote.
The winners received a majority of votes from that 36.6 percent. Is that a public endorsement by the electorate?
The low number of voters was in part fueled by Republican voter restrictions, which particularly excluded African-American voters. We are most aware of attempts to exclude African-American voters. Suppression of their vote has a long and recognized history.
Even The New York Times noted the suppression of the African-American vote in the recent election
However, that does not entirely explain the overall decline in voting. Neither did the restrictions on African-American voters who are disproportionately incarcerated and thus lose their right to vote in all but two states. Although almost 6 million (5.85 million) felons are excluded from voting, their exclusion is nothing new.
African Americans have had a long, strong and historically recent history of fighting voter suppression.
What is new and less recognized in the United States is the exclusion of the majority of our citizens. Fully 51 million eligible voters don’t even register. That is 1 in 4 voters who do not even see the point in participating in our “democracy.” These statistics reveal the sham of our media’s pretense that our elections reveal the people’s will. The people who did not vote are the clear majority.
Who Didn’t Vote and Why?
Those who voted least are those most excluded from the American dream. They have given up on America’s ostensible democracy. Who are they? They are youth, single mothers, blacks and Latinos.
Let’s look more closely. Of the voters who turned out, only 13 percent were younger than 30.
Those in the most dire need for change have the least belief that our government will deliver it through elections. Youth is the hardest hit. Youth unemployment is more than double the overall US unemployment rate. The difference is between an over-14 percent rate of youth unemployment and an under-6 percent rate of unemployment overall.
Youth unemployment is not restricted to those who are undereducated. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education is titled, “The PhD. Now Comes with Food Stamps,” and it speaks for itself. Indeed, it is not only youth, but all groups in what is called “the rising American electorate,” the most rapidly increasing populations of future voters, who are disillusioned enough not to even register:
• 51 percent of youth who are eligible are not registered
• 39 percent of unmarried women are not registered
• 37 percent of African Americans are not registered
• 48 percent of Latinos are not registered.
These potential voters are the new majority in America. They are not galvanized by more unrealized promises of elections that bring hope and change. They are organizing disparate movements across America for higher minimum wages for all workers, wait staff included; the rights of domestic workers; Boycott Divest and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli occupation of Palestine; the end of education cuts and faculty dismissals; the end of rape and sexual assault in the military, on the job, and on campus; the end of police violence including police assassinations; the end of sweatshops; implementation of greenhouse gas control; the end of wage theft; and more.
These are vital movements growing on American soil. However, these disparate movements still lack the unity and cohesion that will give the majority of Americans a voice for hope and change. What is needed is an organization that unites all of the disparate efforts and gives each and all a united, and therefore powerful voice. It will happen.