While the presidential campaign is heating up, we may be glad that we live in a democratic nation where people with political privilege are not the only ones to decide who will have the most powerful job in America. But something about democracy doesn’t satisfy me.
Our democracy doesn’t ensure that every citizen has a chance to voice her or his opinion. Presidential primaries and caucuses do not effectively ensure that all states have equal roles to choose who will be president. Equality should not just be part of the process where policy is made, but also the process where we decide who should make policy.
According to the Office of the Secretary of State of Washington, our state’s presidential primaries will be taking place on May 29th. By the time we enter our polling places for the first time, two candidates will have probably secured their nominations for president. No matter who wins Washington, there are candidates who will have won enough votes from Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to boot all others from the race. For Washingtonians, this is disheartening; no sports fans go to a game where the winner is declared beforehand.
There are only two terms that appear on screen and in papers as frequently as Hillary, Bernie, and Trump—Iowa and New Hampshire. They are the early voting states in this process that hold an inordinate amount of power. The Constitution states that the shared purpose of the United States is to make a more perfect union. So, if a candidate wants to be the head of the union—composed of many states with different needs—she or he must be ready to serve the lives of all fifty states.
It’s not just that two states are speaking for the rest of us; these states do not reflect the racial reality of the U.S. According to the Huffington Post, 90% of the residents of Iowa and New Hampshire are white. All candidates are supposed to run with platforms that reflect the diverse wills and voices of “We the People” in the world’s largest diverse country—not cater to 63% of the population who are one race. We need a candidate who can earn the trust of people of many races, ethnicities, and faiths.
If candidates only hold their rallies and town hall meetings on white streets and in white gyms, Black voices, Asian voices, Hispanic voices, American Indian voices, and all others, do not make our national soundtrack. If candidates only hear stories from people from one background and one faith, the power we place in government does not make a difference!
Every time I try to talk about the election with my friends, they tell me “It has nothing to do with our lives!” Well, it is about us! Bernie wouldn’t just collect tax money from one state to make college free nationwide. Trump wouldn’t just deport undocumented immigrants from one state. Every decision the president makes is an order to every corner of the nation. It is about all of us as long as we are made to pledge our allegiance to the same flag.