Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who votes? Who wins?

Peter Schrag: Brave new world: Plutocracy and minority rule

By Peter Schrag - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, September 20, 2006

By now it's pretty apparent that we're in an advanced stage of an impaired three-tier democracy. At the top are the plutocracy and interest groups that kick in a large part of the great gobs of money spent by both candidates and initiative campaigns.

In the middle is the shrinking minority of the California population who regularly vote. They're older, richer, include a far higher proportion of homeowners and are more conservative than the majority of adults at the bottom, most of them citizens, who don't vote. Because of age and income, most voters are less dependent on schools and other public services than nonvoters.

A report last week from PPIC, the Public Policy Institute of California, aptly entitled "California's Exclusive Electorate," made those points about as sharply as anyone ever has.

In the past four gubernatorial elections, just 35 percent of California adults voted. And of those likely California voters, PPIC reported, 70 percent are still non-Hispanic whites, while the state's population is now just 46 percent white and 32 percent Latino. Only 14 percent of the Latino population votes regularly, although the number is slowly rising.

See the entire piece at

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Only 14 percent of the latino population regularly votes because while 34% of the adults are Latino, over half of them are not citizens and can not vote.
Step one: citizenship efforts.

Second. Most Latinos go to failing schools. In schools they are failed. They have a higher failure rate of the high school exit exam and a high drop out rate. So, these young people do not learn basic citizenship in high school.
And, they do not learn that government can make a difference in our lives.
Low voter turnout is in part, a product of the failure to promote democracy in our schools. The current school establishment, beginning with Superintendent O'Connel, and the current legislature, is failing our kids.
Our schools re-produce our current social classes. Riches for some- poverty for others. As we reproduce our social classes, we also reproduce the biased voting patterns noted in the Schragg column.

For more on this see my book:
Choosing Democracy: a practical guided to multicultural education. (2004) Merrill/Prentice Hall.
There is much more to be said on this.
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