VP Debate: 1 Woman Wins. Minorities Lose
As Biden and Ryan spar, a moderator shines, and yet too many Americans are ignored.
Yes, the words "poor" and "poverty" were actually mentioned tonight -- an improvement over the last debate. (Interestingly, they were mentioned by Ryan, while the vice president referred to "people like my parents" and similar phrases to denote the working class.) But there was little substantive discussion of how to help those in poverty move up, or even survive, while the middle class received a number of mentions. Ryan gets credit for referencing the fact that "15 percent of Americans are in poverty," but what do we do to help them? Neither candidate addressed that satisfactorily.
It's an omission that is especially relevant to communities of color, where poverty has a greater impact and the income disparity with whites is persistent. According to the National Poverty Center, in 2010 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared with 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians. While the Obama administration recently celebrated news that the unemployment rate has finally dipped below 8 percent for the first time in four years, unemployment for black Americans remains at a staggering 13.4 percent. And yet if you were to listen to the first two debates, these statistics might come as a shock to you, because people of color have been virtually invisible, even in the age of a black president.
I previously speculated about the questions I thought a black debate moderator might ask -- something about which I can only speculate because there will not be one this election season. While I applaud Raddatz's performance for the most part, the vice presidential debate served as a powerful reminder that the diversity of moderators can affect the diversity of policy topics discussed in a debate. For instance, in this debate there was a question specifically relating to women, when Raddatz asked about abortion, thus sparking a conversation about it and contraception.)
Here's hoping that people of color are not losers for the third time in next week's town hall-style debate between President Obama and Romney.