Sunday, May 13, 2007

Has MLK's "dream" been realized? - Government and voting

African Americans and other minority groups have made great leaps in the area of government and politics over the past two decades. The Black, Asian, and Hispanic membership in Congress has nearly doubled in the past two decades, from 36 House members in 1985 to 66 members in 2003. For state and local elected officials, Black and Hispanic totals have increased markedly since 1970. In addition, the Black population votes at a similar rate to the overall population, especially in presidential election years (like 2004).

However, there are still some signs that equality in government is not across the board. In the US Senate, there are currently only one African American member and no Hispanic members. Some states have a strikingly low number of minority elected officials (partially due to a traditionally low minority population). Perhaps most alarming is the voting record of the Hispanic population. Hispanics vote at about half the rate as the general population - for example, in 2004, 58.35 of the population reported that they voted, while only 28% of Hispanics voted.

In order to come closer to MLK's "dream" of equality in the area of government, minority groups should be encouraged to nominate candidates for elected positions at the local, state and national levels. There also must be increased voter education, especially among the Hispanic population, to increase the number of educated registered voters. It would be interesting to see the internet connectivity of minority groups, because online information has proven to be the easiest method of becoming a more educated voter!

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