On This Day January 7, 1789: America held it’s first presidential election. Only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. George Washington won the election and was sworn in on April 30, 1789, as the first President of the United States. Women and blacks were shut out of such a momentous event in this country’s history.
The bigger question for me is whether we have truly overcome? The same demographic — wealthy whites are still calling the shots fast-forward to 2013. We saw how the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Karl Rove and others through super PACs tried to hijack the presidential election. They are still calling the shots in many areas in our society. They spent millions of their own money trying to defeat President Barack Obama. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney insulted working class Americans, by labeling 47 percent as deadbeats who want the government to take care of them.
When the election results came in and President Obama won reelection, another wealthy white American, Donald Trump, tweeted that we should have a revolution because there was no way he won reelection fair and square. The wealthy white Republican establishment was in a tizzy because the black guy, who threatened to raise their taxes, managed to win 332 Electoral College votes, virtually shutting out their candidate, a man who stashed his money in off-shore accounts in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Isle of Jersey, etc. Two wealthy white business owners openly threatened to lay off workers if President Obama won reelection. Some, such as Applebee’s CEO Zane Tankel, threatened to fire workers or make them part-time over Obamacare. So much power is still concentrated in the hands of so few.
Added to that mess was there deliberate attempt by white politicians to engage in voter intimidation and voter suppression. The long lines we saw all over the country on election day were eerily reminiscent of the long lines blacks stood in when they got the right to vote. We are still grappling with a double digit unemployment rate in the black community. Well, in the 1700s blacks didn’t have a voice. They were treated like property. We may not be treated like property now, in the true sense of the word, but many are trapped by harsh economic realities and are voiceless and faceless.