The Vote, Lives and Livelihoods, and Power

A Collage

Below is a roundup of a handful of articles from the last week. I found that, together, they tell a story of the relationship between voting, White Supremacy and how good our lives get to be, that leaves me reflective, anxious and yet hopeful.

Reflective, because it feels like we’ve been here before with White Supremacy. (Folks wiser than me would probably add that we never left)

Anxious, because while radicals denounce Democratic shills and voting, and elders disparage the disaffected young people who don’t get it, so few of our groups achieve the integration of massive civic engagement and disruptive power-building we need to succeed. And so we find that 40,000 Georgians who registered to vote may be unable to do so, and we don’t have the power to change that. The cost of that fragmentation is borne overwhelmingly by the bodies and the bank accounts of the poor, people of color, the young and our elders.

And hopeful, because I see in our generational cohort of grassroots groups (see: Freedom Side, OSA, Dream Defenders, United We Dream) and regional power alignments (see: Working Families Party, Moral Monday NC, and West-Coast labor-based coalitions) a maturing analysis that is working on internalizing that integration in a real way.

Anyway, peep the articles below. I found them provocative, to say the least:

Obama’s Health Law: Who Was Helped Most:

The data shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.

The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon…

That state boundaries are so prominent in the map attests to the power of state policy in shaping health insurance conditions. The most important factor in predicting whether an American who had no insurance in 2013 signed up this year was whether the state that person lives in expanded its Medicaid program in 2014. (Just consider the contrast between Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid, and Tennessee, which did not.)

5 Ways Life in America Would Be Better If Everyone Voted:

Non-voters tend to be low-income, young and people of color, while those who vote tend to older, whiter and richer than the population at large. Over the last three elections, voter turnout has been consistently 30 points higher among the highest income bracket (those earning more than $150,000 a year) than those in the lowest (those earning less than $10,000)…

States with a lower disparity between low-income and high-income turnout had policies more favorable to the poor… A recent Demos report shows that while 78 percent of the general public support a higher minimum wage, only 43 percent of the wealthy do. The recent $15 minimum wage in Seattle was only possible after a drive to get more low-income and immigrant voters registered…

“where the poor exercise their voice more in the voting booth relative to higher income groups, inequality is lower.” They find that states with low turnout bias are more likely to have left-leaning governments that favor liberal economics policies. This finding is particularly important since recent research suggests that income distributions are increasingly decided at the state level...

states with lower turnout bias are more likely to adopt expansive healthcare programs for low-income children, and they tend to have more simple application processes…

states with lower turnout inequality are more likely to adopt strict anti-predatory lending policies…

Election Day Could Bring Raises to 680,000 Low-Wage Workers:

Beyond politics, however, Tuesday’s votes carry real-world implications for hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers. If all five initiatives pass, and if the Illinois legislature acts in accordance with voters’ wishes, about 680,000 workers would get a raise, according to data from the Current Population Survey. Their median age is 28. Two-thirds are women. A quarter are raising children.

An estimated 5.9 million voting-age Americans won’t be able to vote next Tuesday:

(and that’s not even counting undocumented Americans)

An estimated 5.85 million Americans won’t be able to vote due to prior felony convictions, according to an estimate from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice nonprofit think tank. Of those, roughly 44 percent are estimated to be felons who live in the 12 states that still restrict voting rights after sentences have been served, a practice that excludes as many as 1 in 10 voting-age residents of Florida, the state with the highest rates of felon disenfranchisement.

Such policies have a disproportionate impact on blacks, restricting the vote for roughly 1 in 13 voting-age blacks nationwide.

But in some states, the rate is much higher. More than 20 percent of voting-age blacks in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia will not be able to vote due to felony convictions—whether or not they have fully served their sentences. In six more states, such policies affect between 10 percent and 20 percent of black adults.

BREAKING: Court Refuses to Intervene In Case of 40,000 Missing Voters in Georgia

Jim Crow Returns: Millions of Minority Voters Threatened By Electoral Purge:

Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.

If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count.

“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”


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