Last Sunday morning on Face The Nation, CBS commentator Bob Schieffer tried to draw a parallel between current racial upheavals and purported racism in our country, and the fact that at least sixty-five percent (65%) of American voters did not vote in the last election….. His contention was that somehow voting would lead to a solution.
I won’t argue that our lack of political involvement is an issue, or that racism is still a problem, but to blame the latter on the former is a bit of a stretch. Perhaps it was the way he framed his comment, blaming a major social woe on low voter turnout, that causes me to think he sorely missed the mark.
The lack of voter participation is not the “problem” per say, and Mr. Schieffer’s comment that “the most effective way to affect change is… to vote”, shows his apparent disconnect with the American people. When less than 35% of voters feel inspired to vote, it is more likely a symptom of a flagging political system where too often the choices to be made are between two evils, or at best two different (but not very) versions of a stale status quo. It shouldn’t be difficult to understand the frustration with our leaders when such condescending ineptitude is foisted upon us by two political parties bought and paid for by political and big-money special interests. Given the choices, its little wonder that so few of us are inspired to make them.
Racism as well, is far more than a simple problem in today’s world. It is also a symptom of even deeper social problems rooted in economic and cultural inequality and an exploding world population. The fact that so many of the recent protestors on our streets were so racially diverse, and therefore lacked the direct racial experience and motivation for their protests, should be a clear indication that it’s not just about race. Yes, racism exists, and there will always be racists (ignorant people with irrational fears) within the full spectrum of the human race. But it is far more prevalent and pronounced at the lower echelons of society. We have made great strides in the racial diversity within our government and society over the past decade, but with apparently little effect on our social anxiety and predicament.
More diversity in our police forces will help resolve some of the immediate pressures, but economic inequality and poverty are the true culprits that need to be addressed. People with opportunity and hope don’t protest and riot. Racial and cultural divides will only exacerbate as the wealth of our nation continues to be redistributed among an ever increasing world population, creating more of a divide between the wealthy and the not. A population that continues to outgrow its economy will always result in economic inequality. Perhaps the criminal elements involved in the recent protestations deserve no better, but for the bulk of the others their frustration is justified, and the symptoms of both voter apathy and racism will most likely persist until our growing economic inequality is resolved.
© Copyright 2014 James McV