That the million-dollar question is, How can people participate in their communities and therefore the political process in ways in which build their sense of agency and encourage further participation? Hahrie Han, a government professor at the University of California, town, prepared a report for the Ford Foundation that puts forward a framework for doing just that.
As an example, automatic voter registration (AVR) may be a policy solution that seeks to handle one of the largest barriers to greater political participation—registering to vote. Recently released data from Oregon, the primary state to pass AVR, shows that AVR helped increase registration rates. But by applying Han’s framework, we see that changing policy to get rid of barriers is important but not sufficient to extend and sustain greater voter participation. Indeed, passing AVR doesn’t guarantee that more people—especially more poor people—will select greater numbers. There are concerns that AVR might not reduce persistent disparities within the electorate—because while it makes the pool of registered voters more representative of the country’s diversity, it doesn’t address voter motivation, especially within lower-income communities. That’s because AVR addresses only 1 of the three dimensions of participation: AVR makes voting more possible. But building it doesn’t necessarily mean people will come. In fact, history tells us that policies like AVR might not transform patterns of participation or the established order. In 1993, the national “Motor Voter” law required state governments across the US to supply voter registration to anyone who applied for or renewed a driver’s license or public assistance. But a study of the law’s impact showed that while it increased voter registration rates, votes actually decreased by 5 percentage points within the next election. There are lots of other samples of how this type of policy intervention has did not increase participation rates in low-income communities and communities of color.
Participation beyond the possible
Social insurance was designed as an economic security program to cut back poverty among the elderly. What sorts of 21st-century policy solutions would set the stage for creating the participation of communities of color and also the poor more probable and powerful in our democracy? Political participation within the US has been problematic for much of our nation’s history. In fact, the sole time we had anything near full participation was when only white men could vote. numerical quantity declined from 79 percent of the eligible voting-age population in 1896 to simply 49 percent in 1920, when women gained the proper to vote. within the South, numerical quantity began a precipitous decline after the withdrawal of federal troops in 1877, hitting its nadir in 1920 at 22 percent, and increasing only after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (The VRA, as many know, was effectively gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013, but there’s evidence to suggest that over time its ability to translate the correct vote into political power for communities of color was somewhat diminished.) It’s simply unreasonable to think we are able to undo centuries of structural racism and misogyny in our electoral processes just by removing barriers to voter registration and participation.
One could say the identical about black churches for black participation, particularly during the civil rights movement. we are able to draw important lessons from how these historic organizations powerfully shaped people’s political identities and instilled civic norms—Ziad Munson has synthesized learnings from some more contemporary and more political movements—but we even have to consider the way to adapt them to the trendy era.