Insight News

Thursday
Jul 31st

In the buying selling of the black vote, real players pay

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How often have you been told that due to its importance to our families and communities, voting is a civic duty every citizen should perform? On the other hand, how many citizens recognize that if you don't put money where you put your vote, the ballot you place has little relevance in the election process? How often have you been told that due to its importance to our families and communities, voting is a civic duty every citizen should perform? On the other hand, how many citizens recognize that if you don't put money where you put your vote, the ballot you place has little relevance in the election process?

From the beginning of this Republic politics has been a parlor game of the rich. Once held only by white male property owners, the right to vote supposedly now allows voting privileges to all. In actuality, today's election process continues to illustrate that those with the most money rule politics; and voters and candidates with little wealth still have little or no meaningful participation in the process.

Except for felons, each and every US citizen has the right to stand for elective office. But, the high cost of running for office deters low-income citizens and candidates from mounting viable campaigns for their interests and issues. "Get Out The Vote" people say "Voting is a tool citizens can use to select government leaders and to hold them accountable." Actually, people unable to play "pay politics" have little to say about who gets nominated and receive little representation from whoever is elected.

"Get Out The Vote" people, who get paid for their roles, clamor, "When Americans do not participate in elections our democracy is threatened." Naively, they lead the vast majority of African Americans to believe: "The more we express our values and concerns through voting, the better our elected leaders will represent us." The truth is a "Politician For The People" cannot be elected without support of the rich. Black Americans have to grasp the fact that having a passionate belief in a candidate is not enough to get them elected. As the cost of mounting credible campaign increases, Black political power will expand not only by getting out the vote, but through putting money with our votes. Have you noticed that, starting with election primaries candidates that collect the most money almost always go on to capture their party's nominations? So, is there any wonder that the campaign contributors that enabled those candidates to win are first in line of those to be "rep!
resented"?

African-Americans complaining about the GOP sweep of the 2002 elections need to take note of the "pay-to-play" equation. One percent of the population funded 2002 political campaigns. To be real players in America's electoral process, African Americans have a long way to go in the money race. A 1997 survey by Public Campaign found over 90 percent of large contributors to federal campaigns were white. A 90 percent white district in Manhattan, with just 107,000 people, gave over $9.3 million to federal candidates, while 9.5 million persons in 483 communities of color only gave a total of $ 5.5 million.) A 1997 national survey of major congressional campaign contributors (i.e. those who give $200 or more) revealed that 95 percent of such donors to be white. Candidates raising the most money in 2000 won 93 percent of races.

Political campaign funding is increasing four times the annual inflation rate. Two critical 2002 races to fill Black seats in the US House illustrate such. Ten times as much money was spent to win in Alabama's 7th and Georgia's 4th congressional districts than was the case in 2000. Interestingly, over 75 percent of $2 million spent by candidates ousting Earl Hilliard and Cynthia McKinney came from outside those districts.

Clearly minority neighborhoods give far less to candidates than white ones, but when bulk of the bucks in our neighborhoods' campaigns comes from outside of them it's time to reassess our votes' actual value. When more Blacks understand the connection betwee
 

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