News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Big Picture

Survey of blacks finds many think politicians don’t care about them

Many black Americans are highly engaged politically but a significant number believe politicians don't care about them, according to what is touted as the largest survey of black people since Reconstruction.

The Black Census Project report, released this week, is based on more than 33,000 responses nationwide.

The survey is not a traditional scientific poll, according to the Black Futures Lab, which authored the report. Instead it worked with two of the largest online civil rights groups as well as more than 30 grassroots organizations, sending local organizers into black businesses, churches and other institutions. Because of this, Black Census respondents are younger, more likely to be female and have a higher educational attainment than the overall black population.

Among the findings in the first report based on the survey:

  • A large percentage of black people are politically active. More than 73 percent reported voting in 2016 and 40 percent reported some additional electoral activity such as canvassing.
  • 52 percent said politicians do not care about black people.
  • Low wages is the most pressing economic problem facing blacks, with 90 percent viewing it as a problem.

The census found broad agreement on the solutions to the economic problems facing blacks, including: 85 percent support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, 84 percent support making college affordable for anyone who wants to attend, and 90 percent support the government providing health care to everyone.

In addition, more than three-quarters of respondents favored raising taxes on people earning more than $250,000 while 60 percent opposed reducing corporate taxes.

Large proportions identified excessive use of force by police officers (83 percent) and police officers killing blacks (87 percent) as problems in the community.

The report concluded that those blacks engaged politically had similar views on problems and solutions than those who are not. The challenge is convincing those not involved of the "effectiveness of taking action."

In addition, the report notes that blacks are the base of the Democratic Party and that if blacks ceased voting and gave up on the system, "it would upend the Democratic Party and have devastating effects on our democracy as a whole."

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

Congress
RepresentUs

RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.

Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez still discussing revolving door bill

Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?

To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."

The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.

The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.

Keep reading... Show less

Adults of all ages agree: There's little confidence in elected leaders

But in general, young adults have a lot more trust issues than their elders

Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.

While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."

Keep reading... Show less