THE IMPORTANCE OF VOTER PARTICIPATION
In the recent New York Democratic Party primary, held on September 9, 2014, voter turnout was about 10 per cent. In the 2013 mayoral race in New York City, voter turnout was approximately 20 per cent. With such low rates of participation, the politicians administering over the city's and the state's broken political system have no fear of ever being voted out of office. Once 80 to 90 per cent. of voters become so cynical of our government that they stop casting ballots, that means that voters have begun to believe that their participation doesn't matter to the design of our republic. This can be a dangerous idea.
MORE ENGAGEMENT IS NEEDED
Political experts blame low voter turnout rates on government corruption and the myth that voters cannot have an impact with just one vote. This can't be further from the truth. While it may be true that many elections are won by large margins of victory, the cynicism around voting misrepresents that one vote can make a difference ; rather, it is that every voter needs to be heard by his or her elected officials. Disingenuous lobbyists and political consultants may strive to demoralize voters as a way to keep the political system broken and rigged in their favor, but voters should not consent to these pessimistic ploys, because voters deserve the best actions by their own government.
Besides voting, New Yorkers need to increase other forms of engagement with government. The city's vast network of Community Boards, local town halls where important government policy can, to some extent, be shaped by citizen participation, is another opportunity for engagement. For example, the fourteen Community Boards in Queens play a legal role in the initial review of zone-busting real estate development deals. This real estate process, known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, makes wealthy real estate developers accountable to citizen comment during Community Board hearings that first begin to examine large scale real estate development projects. If voters want to find new ways to hold their government accountable, then voters can see how they can collectively hold Community Board members accountable to community opinions about real estate projects that spread gentrification and resident displacement.
THE ROLE OF THE PRESS
The Internet has allowed for many Web sites to publish news online, but the avalanche of information fails to connect with people. One of the biggest reasons that people are disconnecting from the news is that the mainstream media never gives people the whole truth about how our government is run. Progress Queens was created to address this problem.
Progress Queens aims to upend mainstream media. Whereas the mainstream media fails to make the connections to lobbyists, consultants, and outside contractors in the many corruption scandals that impact government and big business, voters can count on Progress Queens to always make that connection for you.
Progress Queens is fighting for a truly progressive reform agenda based on the values that we should each of use economic gains to help those with the least and keep our elected officials accountable to voters at all times.