Pursuant to Rachel's thesis last night about the campaign we could have seen as a country had the focus been on President Obama's actual record in office, Laura shared this set of comics that includes the title "If Kids Could Vote."
It reminded me of a recent hypothetical presented by Chris Hayes in which the Bronx borough of New York City received the same political attention as a swing state like Ohio:
In fact, I like to imagine what politics would look like if there was no electoral college, and candidates had something to gain by, say, garnering the votes of the people that live in my home borough of the Bronx. The Bronx has nearly 1.4 million residents, more than 11 entire states. No presidential candidate cares about what people there think because New York is safely blue, but if they did, they might actually do some campaign events there and set up some field offices and they would find an issue landscape very different from the one we’ve been talking about nationally. More than 30% of the borough’s residents live in poverty, so the social safety net is not an abstraction.
A 2011 poll from The New York Daily News found that nearly one half of the borough’s residents were “worried about winding up on the street.” Can you imagine a national political campaign that talked about homelessness? The homeownership rate in the borough, as of the last census, was just under 20%, which means the vast majority of residents live in rental housing and are concerned with safe, clean, affordable rental housing, another issue vital to millions and entirely ignored in our national political conversation.
Think about what a radical sight it would be simply to see the residents of the Bronx, mostly black and brown, immigrants and non native English speakers at a campaign rally with the President of the United States, with the elevated subway line rumbling by and the large, brick, multi-unit rental buildings dotting the backdrop. That tableaux is as American as this image of miners in coal country, or these workers at an auto plant, but it is an image you will never see as long as we have a system in which it is rational for candidates for the highest office in the land to ignore more than half the country.