“Ain’t nothing like the real thing.” – Marvin Gaye.
I remember my first time participating in a Presidential Inauguration. My grandmother and I volunteered for the Clinton / Gore ’92 Presidential campaign early in the election cycle, and we received inaugural ball tickets allowing us to attend the big dance. Later, she signed us up to help with the event set up. Nervous about beating the closing time for renting a tuxedo, I was less than enthusiastic about how long “bag stuffing” was taking. My grandmother pulled me aside and reminded me, “Pour on the passion and put your heart into everything you do. A lukewarm effort produces mediocre results. If you pour on the passion, you’ll experience an intense success in all your achievements.” She was right. The harder I work, the better I felt. The more passionate I became, the better I performed. It benefitted me later in life — I joined the D.N.C. as a campaign trainer. My passion allowed me to successfully lead regional trainings for presidential campaign managers for the 1996 presidential campaign.
What it’s going to take for the United States to bounce back from this global pandemic, economic, civil, and human rights crisis? While having a conversation with an NAACP mentee, I pointed out how authentic, passionate, and righteous movements attract hardworking “pro-public education” advocates and students of color. What’s more important to understand is that to cultivate passionate young movement leaders, we must be careful to have faith in these students’ interests and nurture their natural propensity to question authority. It’s easy to forget that as we push them to support a “traditional” agenda, they will be less active and take up less space civically. So, loosening institutional “vintage” policies and allow the students to make adjustments to civic engagement programs from time to time is key. Instead of pushing standard concepts on students of color, let them choose from a list of essential issues that match their passion. Design cooperative valuations that establish connections with the institution’s overarching principles and allow students to support naturally aligned issues.
For example, amid a persistent barrage of fractious issues stemming from a lack of quality education, financial freedom, and adequate healthcare, we must encourage and cultivate civic mentorships. By expanding the leadership pool as mentors, we are molding students of color to take leadership of our movements. While learning from them how it works, we’ll be demonstrating what we value. As a result of meeting them where they are, we transform their analytical perspicacity as we compensate for our lagging activism indicators. In the long run, creating diverse methods to improve the capability of students of color will boost civic engagement performance while they learn to deliberate more meaningfully, judiciously, and forcefully.
A well resourced public education, economic justice, and a robust healthcare system are key to grow our community. This is why choosing political leaders are the most critical exercises in judgment a nation performs. It offers a rare view of the nation’s core values and beliefs. For example, students of color would be in terrible shape if politicians defunded public education, repealed our current healthcare system, and changed Medicare for the worse. As a result, we would see this impact on everyone’s daily lives in our communities, including our seniors.
Of the 47 million Americans covered by Medicare or Medicare Advantage, the elderly makeup most of our nation’s most vulnerable who depend on the red, white, and blue Medicare card. This economic policy has significant real-life implications. Before it was inception in 1965, one in three seniors lived in poverty, many having spent their life savings on costly medical care. Today, only one in six older adults are in poverty due to medical cost. Medicare has made a difference.
Many experts note that the senior voting block is one of the most educated and active constituencies in politics. Therefore, this provides us with an exceptional opportunity to discuss the need for a balanced approach to America’s health and financial security.
Further, Medicare is one of the best issues for debating the role and size of the government. Shrinking the current size and function of healthcare may affect our economy. A recent study underscores how serious Medicare’s issue is for senior voters — especially voters of color. According to the survey-
● Two-thirds of Latino and Three-Fourths of African American senior voters plan to rely on Medicare even more due to the economy’s state.
● 49% of Latinos and 35% of African Americans are not confident that Medicare will be there for them and future generations.
● 90% of Latinos and 97% of African Americans say the next President and Congress need to strengthen Medicare for future generations.
● 97% of Latinos and 98% of African Americans believe political leaders need to come together to find a solution to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.
To get a better sense of Medicare’s significance, I remember a conversation with my Grandma. “Baby, these politicians will tell you anything to get elected. The truth is, I now get several benefits after Obamacare.”
She reminded me of how the family struggled to help her pay prescription costs until she started receiving the discounts. “Remember how you were shocked at the bill? I think it’s called closing the doughnut hole.” We also talked about how seniors now get free wellness visits and the limit on out of pocket costs for things like co-pays. She shot back, “how will it work if they repeal it?”
I couldn’t answer that because I haven’t seen a new healthcare plan to replace Obamacare. I’ve seen “A Pledge to America” in 2010, but nothing happened. No wonder these politicians have some of the lowest approval ratings in history; at times, only 10% of Americans approved their job. According to the study, more than 62% of Latinos and 67% of African American senior voters disapprove of these politicians.
That’s why it’s so interesting that our seniors feel abandoned – 64% of Latino and 65% of African American seniors believe their economic circumstances have been negatively affected by these politicians. Also, 88% of Latinos and 93% of African Americans think Medicare is critical to maintaining their health.
Those two numbers may indicate why politicians are having such a hard time connecting with voters on a personal level. A reported 74% of Latinos and 80% of African American seniors say “learning the politician’s plans on strengthening and reforming” Medicare would help them decide who to vote for. Yet 48% of Latinos and 39% of African American seniors say politicians are not doing a good job explaining their plans to strengthen and or reform Medicare. To them, if you don’t have a comprehensive healthcare plan, people may take it to mean you’re hiding something.
Are V.O.C. in swing states paying attention to this debate? Will Americans vote for the person they trust? To figure this out, we should look to states like Nevada, where the country gained a Congressional seat and an electoral vote after the 2010 census.
- V.O.C. now makes up 28% of the citizen voting-age population, and 60% of them are registered to vote.
- V.O.C. represented 26% of the electorate in 2008, and that number jumped to 29% in 2010.
- That year, Latinos represented 16% of the vote share, and 69% voted for the progressive Senate candidate. While North Las Vegas grew by 87% to 216,961 and now has over 46,000 “key” V.O.C. in the area, it will take plenty of resources to engage this electorate.
- Note that 88% of Nevada’s baby boomers disapprove of the job these politicians are doing, and 93% believe they need to find a solution to strengthen Social Security and Medicare for future generations.
For over 46 years, Medicare has made a difference for millions of Americans. It is one government program that has worked so well that people don’t think it’s a government program at all. Many seniors say that “if I didn’t have Medicare, doctor bills could wipe me out and put a burden on my kids.” Paying six thousand dollars more for insurance may not sound like much, but if you’re a senior citizen living on a fixed income and you’re already counting every penny, that is serious money.
Each voter must make deliberate choices about who we will support, which means weighing and mulling over each option. After a lot of tough decisions, we will cast our vote and live with the consequences. As my Grandma said, “I don’t care about getting credit for being the generation that created Medicare.” All that matters is that it works, and everyone has access to it when we need it. She reminded me that we all stand on the shoulders of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. They taught us that America works best when we all passionately help each other become successful. A prosperous society is built on a nucleus of hardworking, talented, and compassionate leaders that are trustworthy people. Trust is important. The thing is, “you can’t buy trust; you earn it.”
To be continued …
Kirk Clay is the President of Capitol View Advisors — a collaborative investing and acting on its values in creative and strategic ways to connect communities with the information and resources they need to support and further their aspirations.