Start your political engines, Vixens!
Presidential debate season is upon us, starting with the first event tonight (Oct. 3) at the University of Denver. The first debate sets the stage for presidential challenger Mitt Romney to stake his claim to the White House, to stand on a literal public stage and offer his insights and policies to the American people. The talking point will be Domestic Policy, and issues encompassed in that topic are important for everyone in America. But what should Black women listen for to decide which candidate is best for our vote?
It’s become obvious that politicians are weary to directly address minority women even though this group is suffering the effects of the economic downturn worst than any others. And yes, we’ve noticed there hasn’t been much of a targeted effort to court the Black woman’s vote. So in an effort to mobilize ourselves, it would behoove us to pay close attention to certain the debates in the upcoming weeks.
Black women’s unemployment stats stand at over double of our caucasian counterparts. Although we’ve experienced a decline in the unemployment rate, from 13.9 percent to 10.8 percent this year, this staggering number confirms that when America has a cold, Black women have the flu. The President’s seeming hesitancy to publicly acknowledge this fact could hurt him among Black women voters this upcoming election.
What to listen for tonight? The candidate who provides economic reasons to receive our support and outlines a clear plan to boost the economy; therefore, creating jobs in public sectors (which Black women are largely employed in) like, healthcare, government and education. We all know that the President can’t create jobs, Vixens, but what we do know is that he can create circumstances for the job market to flourish.
Black women only make 69.5 percent of all men’s earnings. In order to help our chances towards higher pay, education and after-school programs must continue to get better, especially in areas where minorities are concentrated. Currently, 72 percent of Black mothers are unwed, meaning if we are to improve our skill set and education as a group, which would in turn lead to higher paying jobs, after school programs as a part of the public education offering is essential.
What to listen for? The candidate who offers insight on how to increase high school graduation rates, help reform student loan lending practices, so it’s easier for us to attend four-year colleges, and the candidate who successfully debates on the importance of after school programs and early education.
Another strong factor in the Black woman’s upward mobility is healthcare. While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been enacted, with the possibility of a new president, it could be rescinded. It’s important for us to listen to both candidates stance on healthcare, and in the advent of a different president than Obama, we must be educated on Mitt Romney’s action plan to keep healthcare a priority.
Black women represent the largest group of democratic voters in the country at 20 million. In 2008, 69 percent of eligible Black women voters showed up at the polls. Let’s increase that number this year, and start by watching the debates that could further help you decide which candidate is best for you. Use these debates as a litmus to see which candidate cracks under pressure and which will adequately address the issues that we care about on a national stage.
Usually, the first debate helps undecided voters swing left or right. Remember, our voice isn’t monolithic. We represent a large range of opinions and views on issues. Historically, the candidate ahead in the polls after the first debate, has won the Electoral College. See why it’s important? The 90-minute televised debate will be broken down into six 15-minute segments. The moderator, Jim Lehrer, the Executive Editor of PBS NewsHour will open the segment with a question. The candidates each have two minutes to respond.
So take notes, stay informed and tune in to the debates from 9 – 10:30 p.m. EST, which will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, as well as all cable news channels, including CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. It will also be streamed live on BET.com.
Happy debating!–Angel Elliott