Are poor & homeless non-voters satisfied with government policy?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 5 Nov 1998 10:48:35 -0400


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Some people argue that low voter turnout "reflects satisfaction with the
direction of the country", to quote the article below.  Also. poor and
homeless people are less likely to vote than middle class or rich people .
So I ask your opinion on these questions:

*Are poor and homeless non-voters satisfied with government policy?

*Are you satisfied with the direction your country and community is going?

Please comment and explain the reasons for your answers.  Thanks. -- Tom
Boland

__________
http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/98/Nov/01/opinion/BUELL01.htm
FWD  Philadelphia Inquirer - Opinion - November 1, 1998


AN AMERICAN CRISIS: THE VOTE NOT CAST

More and more, U.S. politics is what
happens in voters' absence

By John Buell


American political life is at a strange juncture. The 106th Congress will
deliberate on the impeachment of a president -- one of the most portentous
responsibilities in our constitutional system.

Yet the Congress empowered to perform this ritual is itself a symptom of
the grave political crisis that engulfs us. Even if the more optimistic
scenarios unfold, this legislature will be elected by less than 40 percent
of the eligible voters.

We are often told that we need not worry about declining voter
participation. Political "apathy," the argument goes, reflects satisfaction
with the direction of the country. Even if everyone voted, election results
would seldom differ.

It is hard to disprove these views, but there are reasons to be skeptical.
Nonvoting is disproportionately concentrated among our poorest citizens.
During the last two decades, their situation has been getting worse. It is
hard to believe that their retreat from politics represents satisfaction
with their lives.

The crisis in 1998 reflects a long decline in our political history. The
New Deal boosted the sagging working-class participation of the 1920s by
supporting large industrial unions. At first, those unions helped boost
wages for the working class. But they became undemocratic, uninterested in
the quality of the workplace or the ever-longer working hours forced on
their members, and unwilling to expand labor's base at home or abroad.

Welfare then became the remedy of choice for the very poor. As
globalization became a reality, union jobs and wages began to slide and the
welfare burden grew. Welfare both demeaned its recipients and angered the
ever more stressed working class, whose taxes supported it.

As a consequence, some of the traditional Democratic coalition deserted
politics. Political leaders thus had less incentive to pursue such
progressive alternatives as workplace democratization, hours reduction and
universal health care. No accident that President Clinton's only major
initiative was a cumbersome, corporate-dominated model of health care
rather than expansion of the more democratic and genuinely universal
Medicare option.

Today, we have virtually a one-party system. A wag has remarked that Bill
Clinton is the greatest Republican president of this century. His agenda
has included almost every staple of Republican conservatism: the balanced
budget obsession, shrinking government, global corporate trade, elimination
of welfare, and attacks on the morality of the poor.

In a dangerous downward spiral, money becomes more important as political
participation declines, and the more money poured into elections, the fewer
political options working-class Americans enjoy. Federal efforts to
regulate campaign finance are now effectively stalled. Like African
Americans in the post-Reconstruction South, many Americans of all ethnic
origins could join Langston Hughes in suggesting: "I swear to the Lord,/ I
still can't see/ Why Democracy means/ Everybody but me."

Thus it is not surprising that despite polls indicating Clinton's
popularity, Republicans persist in efforts to impeach him. Business, the
Christian Right, and their well-financed lobbies remain virtually the only
mobilized and effective elements within American politics.

If the new Congress were courageous and politically principled, it would,
rather than move to impeach the President, address the gravest crisis in
our democracy. Congress should convene a national conference on political
nonparticipation.

But will the products and beneficiaries of a corrupt and deteriorating
process give this crisis more than lip service?

END FORWARD

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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Some people argue that low voter turnout "reflects satisfaction with
the direction of the country", to quote the article below.  Also. poor
and homeless people are less likely to vote than middle class or rich
people .  So I ask your opinion on these questions:


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>*Are poor and homeless non-voters
satisfied with government policy?


*Are you satisfied with the direction your country and community is
going?

</paraindent>

Please comment and explain the reasons for your answers.  Thanks. --
Tom Boland    


__________

http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/98/Nov/01/opinion/BUELL01.htm

FWD  Philadelphia Inquirer - Opinion - November 1, 1998 



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>AN AMERICAN CRISIS: THE VOTE NOT
CAST


More and more, U.S. politics is what

happens in voters' absence 


By John Buell

</paraindent>


American political life is at a strange juncture. The 106th Congress
will deliberate on the impeachment of a president -- one of the most
portentous responsibilities in our constitutional system. 


Yet the Congress empowered to perform this ritual is itself a symptom
of the grave political crisis that engulfs us. Even if the more
optimistic scenarios unfold, this legislature will be elected by less
than 40 percent of the eligible voters.


We are often told that we need not worry about declining voter
participation. Political "apathy," the argument goes, reflects
satisfaction with the direction of the country. Even if everyone voted,
election results would seldom differ. 


It is hard to disprove these views, but there are reasons to be
skeptical. Nonvoting is disproportionately concentrated among our
poorest citizens. During the last two decades, their situation has been
getting worse. It is hard to believe that their retreat from politics
represents satisfaction with their lives. 


The crisis in 1998 reflects a long decline in our political history.
The New Deal boosted the sagging working-class participation of the
1920s by supporting large industrial unions. At first, those unions
helped boost wages for the working class. But they became undemocratic,
uninterested in the quality of the workplace or the ever-longer working
hours forced on their members, and unwilling to expand labor's base at
home or abroad. 


Welfare then became the remedy of choice for the very poor. As
globalization became a reality, union jobs and wages began to slide and
the welfare burden grew. Welfare both demeaned its recipients and
angered the ever more stressed working class, whose taxes supported it.



As a consequence, some of the traditional Democratic coalition deserted
politics. Political leaders thus had less incentive to pursue such
progressive alternatives as workplace democratization, hours reduction
and universal health care. No accident that President Clinton's only
major initiative was a cumbersome, corporate-dominated model of health
care rather than expansion of the more democratic and genuinely
universal Medicare option. 


Today, we have virtually a one-party system. A wag has remarked that
Bill Clinton is the greatest Republican president of this century. His
agenda has included almost every staple of Republican conservatism: the
balanced budget obsession, shrinking government, global corporate
trade, elimination of welfare, and attacks on the morality of the poor.



In a dangerous downward spiral, money becomes more important as
political participation declines, and the more money poured into
elections, the fewer political options working-class Americans enjoy.
Federal efforts to regulate campaign finance are now effectively
stalled. Like African Americans in the post-Reconstruction South, many
Americans of all ethnic origins could join Langston Hughes in
suggesting: "I swear to the Lord,/ I still can't see/ Why Democracy
means/ Everybody but me."


Thus it is not surprising that despite polls indicating Clinton's
popularity, Republicans persist in efforts to impeach him. Business,
the Christian Right, and their well-financed lobbies remain virtually
the only mobilized and effective elements within American politics.


If the new Congress were courageous and politically principled, it
would, rather than move to impeach the President, address the gravest
crisis in our democracy. Congress should convene a national conference
on political nonparticipation. 


But will the products and beneficiaries of a corrupt and deteriorating
process give this crisis more than lip service?


END FORWARD

 

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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