Friday, October 17, 2014

Published 9:34 AM by with 2 comments

Vote or Die

Vote or Die | Yes, We Rise


This post won’t make you jump up and down, or run the streets or set your soul on fire. I hope it invokes thought – and then action.

Recently I had to create a presentation on poverty. The results were dismal. In North Carolina, the poverty rates are at an all-time high. Looking nationally, women are more likely to live in poverty than men. When looking at women with children – the numbers are alarming. Worse, the aging population is in dire straits. The numbers are so harrowing, a new term ‘extreme poverty’ has been coined. In the presentation, I queried the crowd asking:

1.       Why are people poor?
2.       What is poverty?
3.       Why can’t people escape the cycle of poverty?

When asked, the room became very cold, no answers. People looked around and tried to ignore the questions. I began to call on people. Their answers were troubling. In a very different way, each person (perhaps one was an outlier) blamed the poor people for their circumstance.  The one person who did not agree simply said, “it’s economics. The rich want power and control, not more money. They are bored with money. Now, they want control. It is racism. It is government.”

No. One. Said. A. Word.

The speaker continued, “The poor are consumed with their daily cycle. They are caught up in making ends meet, thinking working harder will provide better outcomes for their children; their lives”
In the still of that moment, I asked, “What can change that?”
While most were still stunned (the truth will do it) a person walked in, almost on cue, and said, “Voting.”

At that point, I finished the presentation and left.

But the words didn’t leave me.

Voting is our right. For women and minorities, people fought for us to have a decision – a voice in who leads our local, state, and federal government. People died for all to have that right. I recall being 18 and running to become a registered voter. Prior to registering, I learned the difference between the parties . . . Nerd, right?

I have been engaged since. It is power. It is great. It is exhilarating.

Then it’s not.

When I went to vote in May, I was the 3rd person – all day long . . .

As I think about voting and who is impacted, I realized the poor and marginalized people are less likely to participate in the single activity that gives them a voice. The power cycle has created the best scenario. Work people too much and create a cycle of not-knowing and not understand so much so they do not participate in the democracy as it was created.

When I lived in Baltimore, fewer than 10% participated in mid-term elections. These elections usually were connected with who the mayor would be, school board participants, and other local entities. These elections usually determined if a bond referendum would be passed, or if a specific tax hike would occur. The decisions impacted those in the lower socio-economic class more than anyone else. Those were the people who were least likely to vote.

Vote.

 At this point, we all know someone who has been laid off, lost a home (or come woefully close), a friend living with a parent, the people who lived well and now are not. The mid-term election is very important to them . . . to me . . . to the poor.

Let’s make the most of our rights in this mid-term voting season.
I dare you to vote.

. . . As Free As I Wanna Be . . .

Goal D Locs 

2 comments:

  1. Discussions about money and power always suck the air out of a mixed group. Your speakers analysis was spot on, the daily grind is exactly that for many people until they are down to balled tires and stripped gears and definitely in danger of crashing. Voting is our voice! Most times it feels like you're voting for the lesser of two evils as they say, nonetheless, voting still give you protesting, bargaining power. Great article, great stance!

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  2. A very true and powerful piece. Voting for the lesser of two evils is so often the case. I usually don't like anybody on the ballot. I vote anyway, and voting in numbers is the first step to having future options which will appeal to the will of the people. I wish more people who care about people were willing to run for office. It's a dirty nasty business and the good ones are never appreciated (see Jimmy Carter).

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