Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I've got issues. What are yours?

I was reading Shecodes' post on Black Women Vote about Obama supporters vowing to sit out the November election if Hillary Clinton wins, when I realized that I have been making a grave error. For all my insistence, here and on other blogs, that black women are not a monolith, I'm afraid I have been wrongheadedly viewing us as a voting group whose members have identical issues that are important to them. And that is wrong.
Though black women share a common desire for equality, I imagine the other issues that drive our political decisions are more varied than our hair textures and skin tones.
If mainstream voters are influenced by class, education, religion, geography and a host of other factors, is it realistic to expect black folks to vote as one? What is the "black vote" anyway?
Here are some of the issues that are important to me in the 2008 presidential campaign:
- I want to see Bush's tax cuts rolled back and the middle class given some tax relief.
- I want to see a real economic stimulus plan that puts some money back into the pockets of the middle and working class.
- I want to see major companies given incentives to keep jobs in the United States.
- I want to see someone pick up John Edwards' pledge to end poverty by 2036 and execute related tactics like raising the minimum wage.
- I want the mortgage crisis effectively addressed.
- I want the federal deficit eliminated and our dependence on foreign loans reduced.
Foreign Relations
- I want the United States to begin pulling out of Iraq, while working with the United Nations to help stabilize that country.
- I want America's reputation on the world stage restored.
Civil Rights
- I want civil rights enforcement strengthened.
- I want my right to choose protected.
- I want gay men and women to have the right to marry or pursue civil unions. At the very least, the issue should be a state matter.
- I want the public school system fixed and No Child Left Behind left behind.
- I want to see a more robust federal college grant program.
- I want universal healthcare.
When my blogsisters, Symphony and Mes Deaux Cents, suggest voting Republican as a way for black Americans to gain power in the political process, that solution seems imperfect to me because my political beliefs tend to be the opposite of the national Republican platform. But my loyalty to the Democratic party likely seems misplaced to them. I am not an idealogue; I give the other side an honest look, it just never seems to address my needs. 
Some black women are considering McCain for their vote. I don't agree with McCain's policies, but very much agree with my sisters making their own choices based on the reality of their lives. I find the idea of not casting a vote in an election shocking, but one commenter on BWV stated emphatically, "You teach people how to treat you." and vowed that Hillary Clinton would not get her vote after race-fueled attacks against Barack Obama.
In the end, it comes down to your issues and which candidate or party you think can best address them.
What are the issues that are driving your choices in the 2008 presidential election?
If black women are not a monolith, how can we best leverage our collective power in the political realm?

Before you go to the polls today...

Do you know where your preferred candidate stands on issues that are important to you?

Find out at http://www.ontheissues.org/, a supposedly nonpartisan site that gathers information from votes, speeches, newspapers and the Internet.

And remember, like Patti Smith says, "People have the power."


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