Date: Feature Week of
January 18, 2004
THE CURRENCY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Are Blacks Investing Bucks Or Just Ballots In 2004 Campaigns?
Do you feel the power? Over a 100 of the most influential Black organizations in America have joined forces for a “Voter Empowerment Campaign”. In December 2003, a coalition of the most powerful political, business, and civic organizations in Black America launched “Unity '04”, a civic engagement and voter empowerment campaign on the premise that the answer for underserved Black Americans is to: “Get involved and vote.”
Unity ’04 may well get its goal of Unity 04’s goal “to register one million new voters and increase Black voter turnout five percent in certain targeted states.” But, as for as helping Blacks “feel the power” Unity 04’s movement may end up days late and many dollars short. Unless they engage the economic factor and become donors in this year’s political process, people “Unity ’04” is “empowering” will be as marginalized at the polls as we are in most phases of established American society.
America’s “Establishment” society has different views and practices toward voter empowerment. In contrast to Unity 04’s movement, these Americans think that it's more important to give big campaign contributions than it is to vote. Its cash that is the currency of elections and when Black America’s 15 million registered voters roll up to the polls, all issues, platforms, program planning and candidates will have been set. Politically naïve, Blacks have no plans of voting with bucks long before they cast ballots.
People who contribute to political campaigns determine who runs for office, who wins, and who has the ear of elected officials. No matter how successful “Unity ’04 is “deploying people to the streets” and convincing Blacks to get involved in the political process and vote, candidates they end up voting for will have been the most effective fundraisers. Candidates that raise the most campaign cash, more often than not, go on to win their elections.
TV ads, political consultants, and other major sources of campaign spending have driven up the cost of running for elective office. Therefore, small groups of wealthy Americans that contribute $500 million to 2004 campaigns will decide which candidates win ballot positions. By the time of the vote, the agenda of the candidate will have already been skewed toward the interests of his contributors. So, when the media says the candidate is “devoted to their base,” it means “to their contributors”.
“Unity ‘04” will be paying people in wards and churches and to stand outside polls and give out ballot cards, but no matter how many Blacks vote, candidates that will be available for our votes will already be controlled by people from whom they got campaign monies. Black influence on the conventions, and candidates that emerge, will be minimum if no money has changed hands. Among Democrats, only if Al Sharpton does well in heavily Black populated states will he be able to corner a few concessions toward African American issues and concerns. By the time Black Americans vote Election Day, big corporations, super-wealthy individuals and lobbyists will have invested wisely to assure their issues and agendas are set. Think about it, isn’t it better for them to invest a few millions in donations and get mega-billions back in tax breaks, subsidies and returns on investments?
Regardless of race, gender or economic status, every adult American has equal opportunity to participate in the political process. But, it is the people of high economic status and access to wealth that control “the people’s government”. Those seeking “one man, one vote” must realize that the real “democracy of America” is stuffing the ballot with dollars.
A tiny elite, insulated from the everyday needs of average Americans, is buying politicians and set to obtain special treatment, while the empowerment for Blacks rides the backs of Unity ’04 forces use of “back to basics” tactics to get Black voters to polls in November. Unless we get involved in “basic power politics” and bundle financing for campaigns, the “basics” going forth January, 2005 will continue being high deficits, cuts in programs vital to us, lower wages, greater health insecurity, diminished opportunities for our children.
“Unity ‘04” people marching into Black communities need to be cognizant of the way dollars affect our interests and the candidates that emerge for our votes. They must and start engagements with business, corporate and other community leaders to maximize not only voting but fundraising among African Americans toward the 2004 elections.
© 2000-2003 William Reed - www.BlackPressInternational.com