Sunday, October 21, 2012

US elections and the millions that have given up

by Richard Mellor

This is just a short little piece today as we haven't had anything up in 48 hours (resources resources)  but I was reading about the "gender gap" in US politics today.  This is the gap between how women vote and how men vote.   The Daily beast writes that:

The margin between female and male voters is nearing a record high this election.

Most women favor Obama and if we take them alone then he would get elected but most men favor Romney and if they alone voted he would get elected.

But the group that they always leave out is those that don't vote at all.  The US elections are a very closed affair. Readers may have been following events here this election cycle and would be aware that the Green Party candidate for president was arrested for trying to participate in the televised debates.  There are numerous candidates for president but, as some $3 to $4 billion will be spent on these elections according to some sources* the numerous other candidates will not be heard. In the US, we have the best democracy that money can buy and if you don't have the money, you don't get to participate; the same with health care, housing, food, education.  No money here and you are shite.

The VEP ( Vote for highest office) in the US in 2008 was 61.6%. The total ineligible felons were 3,144,831. A huge percentage of this group were people of color especially black males.  The US has some 2.3 million people in prison, more than any other country and this is a way that the young people and ethnic minorities in particular are disenfranchised and 61% is nothing to brag about in a so-called democracy.

In 2008 about 131 million people reported voting in the U.S. presidential election, an increase of 5 million from 2004. This was the due to the expectations that Obama's candidacy generated among people of color and black youth in particular.  55% of blacks between 18 and 24 turned out; an increase of 8% over 2004.  "The increase included about 2 million more black voters, 2 million more Hispanic voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained statistically unchanged." (see

Many US white males just could not bring themselves to vote for a black man.   I have to stress on this blog that despite our criticism of Obama and the view that he is a slick, bourgeois politician and the one that that the ruling class would prefer at this time, it is of major historic significance that a black man became president in this country with its history of racism and the existence of an apartheid state within a state until the latter half of the 20th century.

But to get back to my original point.  They don't generally make an issue of the people that don't vote at all.  The big business media often talks about this or that president winning a mandate.  But what mandate are they talking about? The 27% of the 52% that voted?  Big deal.

In 2008, the turnout was the highest in any presidential election since 1960, yet nearly 80 million eligible citizens didn't vote. In 2000, 54.2% of those eligible to vote cast a ballot.

Some estimate that maybe 90 million Americans will not participatee in the upcoming election for president.  Many of these will vote for local ordinances and measures.  But the disgust and disillusionment with the two parties of Wall Street is extreme.  I am a retired Heavy Equipment Operator, here is what one HEO says of the coming election:

"I don't think Obama helped us as much as he promised,"
he says.  He "voted for Obama, the financial downturn has forced him to sell his home in Arizona, move to Minnesota to be near a daughter and put him on the road to Nebraska, North Dakota and Iowa to find work.
His wife "loves" Obama and is sure to vote in November, but he's not certain whether he'll get there this time." (USA Today 8-15-2012)

Many well intentioned people  who ague that we must vote, (for the lesser of two evils)  often claim that those that don't are Americans that "don't care" or are "apathetic". I take a different view.  I commend those that say we have to vote even though I believe that history shows that the working class never really won anything of major importance through the ballot box, the politicians simply put on paper what we had already taken in the streets, the legislation of the 1930's for instance when 500, 000 US workers occupied workplaces or the social legislation of the fifties when the Civil Rights movement, young people  facing dogs and racist authorities in their struggle for democracy and the right to vote. But we won the right to vote from them and we should defend it.

But the fact the millions stay away from the polls in the US is a sign not of reaction but rebellion.

* This includes all monies not just candidates or party expenditures.

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