Political awareness and elections in Parkchester, Community Board 9
By Akeem Alao
Politics remains one of the most important social constructs in history. It has significantly influenced everyone’s life, either directly or indirectly.
Several policies and decisions which affect society and life are instituted through politics. Laws are legislated, national security and economy are determined by political leaders.
Little wonder why everyone is regarded as a political animal. Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone participates in politics because we choose our leaders through political platforms.
Political awareness is an essential tool for active political participation. It is done in different ways. Political awareness could be created through active participation in politics; whereas, some rely on information from the news outlets.
Some individuals maintain that the best form of political aware is to follow elected leaders or candidates and be more engaged in socio-political activities such as electioneering.
According to a report released by ChangeRoots.com, political awareness is not only about politicians; it’s also about ourselves. Generally, we want a better world, but ideally that should happen with a minimum personal effort.
The report adds that the vote is the most important tool in a democracy, and many people tend ignore or don’t understand its power. Moreover, they are not aware that the universal voting right is relatively new and there have been hard fought battles to obtain it.
"As an example, 2020 marks a century since U.S. women won their voting right in all the states through the Nineteenth Amendment.
"Being politically aware means that we have to understand its importance, what it stands for, and how to use it. The vote should be your responsible answer to the problems you and your peers are facing. In a way, the vote represents the pinnacle of being politically aware. Your vote is the result of you being politically aware or apathetic about politics."
"By being politically aware you’ll have more knowledge about what is happening in the world; you’ll be more informed and will be able to make better decisions not only for you, but for your community. Sure, politics may seem like a very complicated game and you may feel powerless about it, but there are many ways to make your voice heard, and through these ways everyone can make a small but significant difference in the world," the report states.
On the level of political participation in Parkchester and Community Board 9, a human rights activist who has a good knowledge of the politics in the region, Sheikh Musa Drammeh, stated that Community Board 9, like most other community boards in the city, is very diverse in demographics and socioeconomic positions.
"The two fastest growing immigrant groups are Bangalis and various Latino ethnic groups.
"This year, for example, two Bangladeshi immigrants are among the candidates running to replace the term limited incumbent for Council District 18," Sheikh Drammeh said.
He added that a number of methods are adopted by the political leaders to involve the people in the Parkchester politics or election.
"The most successful political maneuvering is to be inclusive with one’s political agenda as well as embrace the diversity of district constituents," Drammeh said.
He stressed further that "While overall civic participation in the city has been low, especially in certain neighborhoods of the Bronx, Parkchester residents including its large immigrant population are among the most active civic participants.
"They serve on Community Board 9, 43rd Precinct Council and other community volunteer programs."
He added that race even plays certain role in the Parkchester politics.
"Yes, race is a factor of life in every part of the United States, including politics. Most political strategists use race and ethnicity for their targeted campaign activities. Candidates use race and ethnicity to advance their political agendas. There is a common saying in New York, “Politics is tribal.”
Some political leaders create awareness, using campaign slogans and manifestoes.
Take for instance, a member of the New York State Assembly, representing District 87, created political awareness through electioneering during her solicitation for reelection.
She said, "I am running for re-election to the New York State Assembly to continue the work that I started. I am fighting for equity in society.
"I have seen how inequities, especially in health care, can have a great impact on the lives of people in our society. I would like to use my position, as a public official, to improve the lives of New Yorkers, who suffer at the hands of the wealthy and the companies that are seeking profits."
She added, "I want to fight for middle, working class families, like mine, and the impoverished, who are the folks who need someone to be on their side and to advocate for them and their interests the most."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the U.S. House, representing New York's 14th Congressional District, leveraged an "Ask Me Anything" Reddit session at the start of her campaign to create political awareness.
She said, "My campaign is challenging Joseph Crowley, one of the most Corporate-funded members of Congress, on an entirely progressive and grassroots campaign."
Meanwhile, her campaign site emphasized her working-class background. It stated, "Ocasio2018 is a campaign that brings New Yorkers together to champion the needs of working families in the Bronx and Queens.
"Together we will create a nation of dignified healthcare, tuition-free higher education, quality employment, and justice for all - and we’re the only ones to do it without corporate money."
Active electoral participation depends on the level of political awareness created to motivate the electorate to actively participate in elections at all levels. Political awareness and elections are likened to a siemese twins. It forms an integral part of an electoral process. Voters get to know their favourite candidates through political awareness.