Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Civic Responsibility Falls On Our Shoulders by Akindele Akinyemi


Since Black people are hung up on political power I would like to illustrate why it is important for urban communities across Michigan to begin embracing political balance.
In other words a mixture of Democrats and Republicans.
I would like for us to take a look at the number of Hispanics that are in office on a federal level.
I have found that there are two groups that represent the Hispanic community. Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Conference. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus have 21 members who are Democrats while the Congressional Hispanic Conference have only six members who are Republican. They are working both sides of the aisle.
Take a look at the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. This group is bi-partisan. They are working both sides of the aisle.
The Jewish Congressional Leadership are working BOTH sides of the aisle. Ever heard of AIPAC? This is the Jewish lobby that has Congress supporting Israel. $5.7 billion of your tax money goes over to support a "state" that has nuclear weapons. But they are trying to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.
So how come Black people cannot work both sides of the aisle? And where is OUR Nigerian lobbying group to lobby on behalf of Nigeria? Or the West African lobby?
It is our responsibility to engage our young people in the civic process. If urban conservatives are going to create a base here within the framework of urban regional power then we need to do it from an educational standpoint.
We know our young Black youth are confused on who to support for in a election. They do not see other young people from their peer groups running for office or setting up focus groups in their neighborhood. Our youth is so desperate to leave Michigan because of the lack of jobs and opportunities.
Our youth have less respect and confidence in the relevance of government in general - - as its role has departed from the 4 core principal reasons for government by the addition of a 5th principle: entitlements and socialization - - and as the share of the economy dominated by government spending soared to 40% of the economic pie, including increased social spending ratios from 4% of the economy to 15% of same since 1960 and as major portions of income were transferred from families and young people to seniors.
Over this time period, America has become a society much more dominated and controlled by government - - which means less individual freedom of choice for citizens - - completely contrary to the intent of the nation's founding forefathers. Unless you are one of those on the receiving end of all that government spending or promoting some radical mandate to force others to relinquish certain freedom of choice, yet are paying for it, why vote? And, if you are on the receiving end through no efforts of your own - - why vote? There is always the risk that those most dependent on government spending will vote for more government, which tends to support those believing differently than our nation's founders who believed in very limited government.
Urban Conservatives also must address how government at the federal level increased 9 times faster than economic growth (from 3% of national income to 25%), its power over others increased even more - - by use of imposing regulatory mandates not just on business and the private sector, but on state & local governments. Think about it, why should a citizen vote for national leaders when the evidence is clear that the federal government uses its power to mandate social engineering agendas, on local school boards for example. Citizens would prefer to deal with those issues in local school board voting, and must be disgusted with government imposing from top down - - whereas the basic premise of our founding forefathers was suppose to flow from the bottom up - - not the other way around. Such top-down mandate by the federal government has caused state & local government spending ratios to soar upward in response. In this example: local citizens and their local school board elected officials should have full control of local school policy without federal or state mandates. The way it has been going, why vote in either national or local elections?
Other reports indicate that a well-educated person is more likely to vote than one less educated. When a nation's president in the mid-1990s, for the first time in U.S. history, called for volunteers to help teach kids to read we know the problem is real. Parents need more choices of their own to counter negative education quality trends, but they witness such efforts vigorously resisted by government forces. Even our youth are up in arms about the lack of more choice.
Why vote if politicians have such a track record of talk-only, while resisting measurable improvement and more choice to enable parents to do the job that government has failed to perform? There is always the risk that the less well-educated in and around population centers can be more easily organized into mass voting (even bused to the polls) - - thereby upsetting informed choice.

Voter-turn out starts to drop because schools become too large. In big schools, students feel alienated from the governing body and feel their voice has no effect. This mind set stays with them after they graduate from high school. When the time comes to vote in national, state, or local elections, they feel that their opinion doesn't matter and therefore don't go out to vote.

Our mission is to push for smaller schools and better education quality. Less education quality coupled with the trend away from smaller schools makes more students believe their voice does not count or they are not responsible to the larger community, a belief which carries over when they are old enough to vote - - and many don't vote. High school education should develop voter turnout responsibility, and should include students developing class projects with actual petition development and drives to cause referendums to occur on local ballots.

Furthermore, voting during a single week day may limit turnout, especially for working people with long commutes from work and those picking up their children from day care centers or schools. Studies should be made for having polls open from Friday through Saturday.
The bottom line? Educate our youth to becoming active precinct delegates as well as fact-finders. We must engage our young people to not just vote but to understand the issues from a critical point of view. Just because your mom and dad vote Democrat does not mean you should vote Democrat. My advice has always been to vote your values. This is the message we should be giving the 18-35 year olds. There is no reason why we should continue to support old dinosaurs in office when we have young, credible, intelligent people that are bringing new ideas to the table. Blacks should be working both sides of the aisle not just pledging our support on one party or lying and hiding behind the independent crap and vote Democrat.
Civic education is necessary and should be stressed in our educational fabric if we want to breed a new generation on emerging leaders. If we are not running young people for office then we should be in the business of designing lobbying organizations to lobby for free-market economics in Africa as well as setting up 527s. We are behind the times with the way we do things in the Black Community.
In 2004 - although 122.3 million citizens voted, 93.4 million (43%) voting-age citizens DID NOT vote. That to me is a crisis. It is time to get the vote out today, not next year.

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