Lee McQueen Critiques BlackElectorate.com
We always appreciate feedback, criticism and praise from our viewers. It is a tremendous honor and an enormously humbling experience to receive the brilliance, passion and insight of our audience. Simply put, we think we have the best audience of any website that covers culture, politics and economics on the Internet. As one can imagine some of the communications that we receive are better than others. And over the weekend we received one of the most impressive e-letters ever from one of our viewers, Lee McQueen from Buffalo, New York.
Lee's comments reveal enormous intelligence, thoughtfulness and a dedication to political affairs that is rare. We were so impressed that we decided to turn over " A Deeper Look" to what Lee sent our way.
Here it is unedited:
I'm a former political science major and I'm quite the political junkie now. I love getting the latest and greatest information about current events in the political world so I continue to visit your site almost daily. I've visited other political websites geared towards the Black electorate and your site continues to reveal itself as far and away the very best in terms of easy navigation, clarity, currency, balance, insight, and honesty. If I quote you to others, I make sure to give credit to your site. I'm also thankful that you leave biased whining to others, not that I'm going to name names. So I wanted to thank you and encourage you to keep doing exactly what you're doing now - being the best.
Blackelectorate.com is a terrific site for every single politician out there trying to understand exactly what Black people want and need from their elected officials. I sincerely hope those elected officials are paying attention.
Since the Nov 7th election, the following essays have put a lot on my mind:
Black Ex-Felons...11/08/00 I'm hoping that the Democrat Party's struggle to find [manufacture] votes ANYWHERE from ANYONE this election year will lead them to realize that an extremely large support base has been disenfranchised without the help of the butterfly ballot but instead, with the help of failed Drug War policies and "tough on crime" legislation passed under a certain sitting Democrat president and vice-president.
Go Slow But there is a case for...11/13/00 Yes, the electoral college is a struggle to understand and appreciate especially when it thwarts the power of either the voter or the votee. However, legislation to abolish the electoral college has been initiated over 900 times since its inception and has continued to be killed before it gains enough support to form a constitutional amendment. I don't think it is a good idea to abolish the EC completely since it serves as a magnet to draw interest to rural and low population areas and prevents New York and Los Angeles from controlling the White House.
However, I do think it is a good idea to reform the EC via state-sponsored legislation instead of constitutional amendment. I believe each state's electors should be distributed by congressional district. In effect, make each person who wins a majority in a certain congressional district, the winner of that elector. Whoever wins the majority of the congressional districts acquires the two additional senate electors. In the event the same number of congressional districts are won by each candidate, split the senate electors so each candidate would have one.
Representation is more direct and proportional in this scenario than in the winner-take-all scenario. Candidates will feel even more urgency to visit every single state (instead of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Florida over and over) in an effort to scrape up even the minority of electors to add to their totals won from other states. For instance, while Gore would have had, say, 30 electors in California, Bush would have had maybe 20, and Nader maybe 4.
The electoral college would have truly represented the population in that state more accurately instead of Gore claiming that everyone in California must love him. Bush would have been justified in spending time in California because 20 electors is nothing to sneeze at. Like Maine and Nebraska, this reform could be done on a state-by-state basis. While such reform would be a nightmare to attempt via the federal government, states have the wherewithall to accomplish this act within the next four years. In addition, I believe instant run-off voting (http://www.fairvote.org/op_eds/pres_irv.htm) should be allowed within each congressional district to choose which elector should vote for president.
This reform can also be legislated on a local and state basis without a constitutional crisis charge being leveled by Congress.
With IRV, I could have ranked this year's candidates by tolerance level and had Nader as my first choice, Hagelin as my second, Gore as my third, etc. and not felt pressured or harassed into voting for Gore. There would be no spoiler charge leveled at Nader or Hagelin.
All of this is possible within the next four years if people pay attention and work hard to bring it all to the attention of their congresspeople. I'm sure anyone who has ever lost an election would also be interested. In addition, voter education on issues and technical voting questions such as registration, ballot information, and registration is a realistic possibility. Saturday voting is possible. Higher tech voting is possible. And 24hour voting is possible. These vote reforms are entirely and realistically possible with the concentrated focus of grassroots organization in the next two to four years.
The 43rd president of the United States would have an issue to promote (vote reform) that would serve to redeem his tainted entry into office, would gather bipartisan support, and would create a lasting legacy for electoral politics for years to come.
However, total abolishment of the electoral college as a goal to improve democratic representation is unlikely when you figure the odds are 900-1.
Native-Am Mascots...11/15/00 Those mascots are demeaning, racist, and insensitive. I'm highly cynical of those who deny the existence of bigotry and racism, and yet tell Native-Americans to be quiet and sit down when their culture is held up for ridicule in the interest of "team spirit." The amount of denial is disgusting and sad. Spike Lee made Bamboozled to hold up a mirror that reflects a sharp cutting light through the cloud of denial around African-American racism in Hollywood. I sincerely hope a Native-American version of Bamboozled is created someday to shame all Americans into acknowledging the need to not only listen to the Native-American point of view, but to also respect it.
Armstrong Williams...11/21/00 My father is a Republican which makes complete sense for anyone who knows him. While my father participated in sit-ins and demonstrations in the 60s, he is still socially conservative and quite religious. I'm quite conservative myself on social issues, but I also feel that people should have the freedom to ruin their own lives without government interference. So I have libertarian values, but the environment is also important to me which is why I supported the Green Party this year. My mother and brother don't vote. So basically, everyone in my family chooses their own paths. What my family has in common is none of us feel obligated to give automatic support to the Democrat Party. We make up our own minds. Currently, I'm hoping Bush will eventually reside in the White House because Gore, quite frankly, annoys the hxll out of me. I really can't take his obnoxious personality in my face on television for the next four years. But who knows what will happen in the long run. Personally, I think this election fiasco is another "wag-the-dog" scenario designed to distract attention from Clinton's quiet arrangement of anti-union and anti-environment trade deals with Vietnam. Anyway, to win support from the African-American community in addition to the current support of the Arab-American and Cuban-American communities, the Republican Party must acknowledge race as an issue separate from class. In addition, the Republican Party must find a way to answer racial challenges raised in an inflammatory and diversionary manner by items such as the NAACP lynching ad whose funding sources remain unknown. By working across race, class, and party lines, the Republican Party will acquire even more conservative-moderate African-American voters who desire an image of morality and trust in the Oval Office and who are closer to Colin Powell than Jesse Jackson Sr in political philosophy.
A House Divided....11/22/00 Yes, much like the OJ Simpson trial, this election revealed an uncomfortable American divide on issues such as class, gender, race, geography (rural vs. urban), and liberal vs. conservatism. Gore, of course, aided and abetted the realization by exploiting these divisions to his now questionable advantage. It is high time for our elected and unelected leaders to deal with the above issues by LISTENING to the communities they represent instead of trading votes and spending the majority of their free time begging for money to support win-at-all-costs partisan platforms.
Native American Alcoholism...11/23/00 Well, being part Native American, like almost all other African-Americans I know, the use of chemicals to supress one's negative emotions strikes me as a sad commentary on a culture that has been "disappeared" almost to oblivion. Even while African-Americans struggle with the slavery past and prison industry present, it is still possible to note that Black culture continues to drive popular culture while Native American culture is ridiculed and debased during football season. While African-Americans have a lower-toleration level for injustices against their own community, there appears to be an unfortunately higher level of toleration of injustices against the Native American and other colored communities in America. It is my desire that Black Americans and Native Americans and Arab Americans find a way to eliminate the middle man (White Americans) to form economic and social, if not political coalitions across color lines in order to save each other from being the race target of the year.
I have a couple of suggestions for your site. Please post a small bio of yourself, institutional affiliation, OR a small blurb explaining the purpose of your website, what you are trying to accomplish, and your goals for the future. In the meantime, I remain impressed and respectful of your keen insight, your honesty, and ability to stay not only current, but also ahead of the game on all issues relevant to the Black Electorate.
Thank You Lee, and all of our wonderful viewers!
Monday, November 27, 2000