Inclusion without Action

Shklar defines citizenship as possessing the “right to vote” and the “opportunity to earn”. Both very important “rights” to American citizens. We Americans fought long and hard to earn equal representation in this nation. When our nation was founded and the constitution ratified; only white male property owners had the ability to vote. They were the only demographic that had a voice in our political future. It took some time and setbacks as we moved to a truly democratic nation (equal representation). Many protests and strikes were organzied to fight for these rights. (Most during the Civil rights movement). African American males gained the right to vote on February 3, 1870 with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. Even though the Jim Crowe laws delayed and detterred many African Americans males from excersizing this right. Women gained the right on August 18, 1920 with ratification of the 19th Amendment. And in on August 6, 1965 the Voting Rights act was passed through congress. This act was used to overcome legal barriers deterring all citizens (but mostly african americans) the right to vote. States were now no longer allowed to use barriers such as literacy tests to dictate who can or cannot vote. ( Full timeline of voter rights found here:  http://www.kqed.org/assets/pdf/education/digitalmedia/us-voting-rights-timeline.pdf

 

Shklar states the right to vote as “Standing”. To explain what she means by this i will use a metaphor used in one of our class discussions. “Everybody wants to be included in the club. However, once in the club, they could care less about the club”. So what Shklar means is that everyone wanted the right to vote. The people of america wanted to be included with the others that had the right to vote. As i explained beforehand, we as a country and a society have fought long and hard for equal rights. But once many of the excluded demographics ( non-property owners, indigneous decent, African americans, and women) gained the right to vote they didn’t care to us it. We still see the relevance of this problem in todays political spectrum.

As the 2016 presidential race continues to wane, we the people see a reoccuring request from the potential candidates; the request for a bigger turnout at the polls. It is estimated that only 60% of eligible americans actually vote. And that since 1964 we have seen a continous drop in participation but with some outlier years ofcourse. The political participation numbers will vary greatly from state to state and by the affilated political party (Democratic 0r Republican). For instance, in the 2012 presidental election the greatest turnout was in Minnesota pulling in 74.6 % of eligible voters. The lowest turnout was in Hawaii at 43.6 % followed by West Vriginia at 45.1 %. Whats more shocking is the low percentage of African-American voters. Only 13% of votes casted in the 2012 presidental election were African American. With whites dominating the turnout percentage at 72%. So why have many fought for the right to vote and don’t use it?

It is up to the American people to take action and support their political candidates and interests. Most americans reasoning for not making it to the polls on election day is that they dont have the “free time”. The second biggest reason is lost in trust of the polictal spectrum. Which explains the huge amount of support for Trump in the 2016 election. As an american citizen i beleive its a duty not only to “earn” but to “vote” for your political candidate or interests. It amazes me that the turnout rates could be so low. That “We the people” will let others make the decisions on who represents us and who will lead our country. Maybe it takes exclusion to bring action. Regardless, i urge all of you to turnout on election day to cast your votes regardless of your political affiliation.

 

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7 Responses to Inclusion without Action

  1. nicmccaleb says:

    I really like what you wrote. I think that the mentality behind voting needs to change. In my opinion, this current election, as well as the last, is/was more or a popularity contest than an actual election based on content. Trump, as well as Obama have controlled the media during their respective elections. The old expression that “any media is positive media” is never more prevalent than in our current and past election. Opposing candidates in both parties are not able to gain any sway in the media due to the overwhelming (whether positive or negative) response to both Trump and Obama. I think that elections need to alter there path from popularity contests to actual elections based on content and traits of the candidate.

  2. jfavila says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I never knew about the data on voter turnout other than what I already knew about low young voter turnout. I think we as a country need to emphasize just how important voting is. Recently I talked to a friend and they remarked about how they weren’t going to vote because they had no idea how to register. With this in mind I feel we somehow need to teach people about voting and registration. I feel that would be the first step towards increasing voter turnout in general.

  3. sbain2016 says:

    It is very important for the American people to exercise their right to vote. We have seen in the 2000 Presidential election where a few votes can make a difference. It must be noted that this effect is amplified in state level elections. Voter pool numbers are lower and turn out is even more abysmal in mid term elections. However, I must caution you on your use of statistics.African Americans only represented 13% of the vote in 2012, but their numbers only represent 12% of the voting population. What those numbers say is that the African American voter turn-out was actually higher than that of White Americans. In fact, it was the first time ever that the African-American turn-out exceeded the White American turn-out (66.2% vs. 64.1%). View the link http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/05/08/six-take-aways-from-the-census-bureaus-voting-report/ to verify my numbers. This means that this under represented population utilized its rights more effectively than the majority.

  4. jtoombs51 says:

    I enjoyed your discussion regarding the right to vote, because it is a fundamental right held by the American people, and should be exercised as much as possible. The right to vote allows citizens to take control of the direction of government, especially when they believe the government has gone astray from the ideals valued by the public.

    As for why people do not utilize their right to vote, it is a multifaceted problem that is difficult to understand without a comprehensive overview of history, and the current political climate within the United States itself. Citizens are apathetic to the process as it exists now, and feel as if their voice does not matter. Perhaps this is from increased polarization, or maybe it is due to the increased power of private interest groups having a (seemingly) greater voice.

    All in all, it is disheartening to see the citizens lose faith. The individuals of the United States have an incredible power to create change, and they need to realize this in order to make the country a better place.

    Well done!

  5. mike65965 says:

    Interesting situation we find ourselves in. The average american that I have met that don’t vote are usually a result of total disconnect. Many americans are not informed even to the most basic of what is happening politically in our country. I am reminded of the fact that it is said that the greatest unifier in a country is a war. People tend to get comfortable in their lives and assume that all is well since their lives are ok, or that their vote nor anything that a candidate can do will affect their lives. I think the affection of Trump is mostly based on the deep want for something to actually happen. Every cycle we are promised solutions to so many problems that the 2 parties do a great job of convincing us will destroy our country then they take office and slowly learn that the ship cannot change course quickly. We as americans forget that our system was created to be hard to change for good reason. A democracy makes it impossible to accomplish things if there is much opposition and maybe that is for the best.

  6. iramsey918 says:

    First off, thank you for submitting an engaging and interesting post. I was amazed by the percentages on the charts you included. It seems incredible that the fight to vote and have equal rights can mean so little to many American citizens today. This part of your post really stood out to me and hit home:
    “Everybody wants to be included in the club. However, once in the club, they could care less about the club”. So what Shklar means is that everyone wanted the right to vote. The people of America wanted to be included with the others that had the right to vote. As I explained beforehand, we as a country and a society have fought long and hard for equal rights. But once many of the excluded demographics ( non-property owners, indigenous decent, African Americans, and women) gained the right to vote they didn’t care to us it.”

    While I whole heartedly agree with the fact that everyone wants “to be in the club but once they are they don’t care about the club” quote, I don’t think that is necessarily true for everyone, I definitely know some hardcore American citizens who exercise their right to vote without missing a beat; primary elections, general elections, local election and initiatives and yes, even the PTA board advisory meetings. I think what the general consensus for a lot of people that don’t vote and most people my age is that we don’t feel like our vote will make a difference. If enough people think like this the percentages will continue to drop every election. Poor voter turnout can be related to the archaic use of the Electoral College. How is it possible that a candidate can win the majority of American votes and still lose an election? It’s absolutely ridiculous. Another reason for the poor voter turnout for the 2016 election, according to the numbers provided in your post, can probably be linked to the fact that it was the primary. I don’t think a primary is as engaging to the average citizen as much as a general election is which is sad because the primary actually sets up the general election.
    One final point that I’d like to make is that you’re right; our morale as voters and our trust has been compromised. The only way to change that is to literally clean out the government and get real people in there that will fully represent us. The conundrum is that we would actually have to get all of the voters that share this ideology together and take a fieldtrip to the polls because that number together will be the voice of the people and we can make a difference. I have always been told that if you don’t vote don’t complain about who becomes president, gets elected into congress or into other elected government positions and what laws are passed.

    • zschilling says:

      The electoral college seems to be one of the greatest injustice in todays politcal spectrum. Your absolutely right to be angry when a presidential candiate wins the majority vote of the people but still comes up short for the delegates. How is that a democratic process? Your right, some people get in the club and love to be in the club. I feel as if these people are usually the ones in power to create change (politicans rather everyday americans). However, there are outliers. For instance, this years presidential race. More voter tunrout than every before, but its sad that it has to come to a breaking point for people to become involved.

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