The United States’ forthcoming national election carries exceptional expectations. In one sense, categorizing the election season in such a way is more of a platitude; every Presidential run affirms itself as the biggest, most critical election yet. The media’s inundating hype-machine turns the complex ramifications of choosing political leaders into a horse-race. And yet, with the incumbent President Barack Obama squaring off against the Republican challenger Mitt Romney, major issues in healthcare, the economy, social services, women’s rights, clean energy and more remain at stake.
Every Vote Counts
Most vital to the continuation of a healthy, robust political process are citizens getting their votes out. Honest engagement with the system is key. The cliche ‘every vote counts’ is in fact a potent piece of reality that people need to be reminded of every now and again. Jolkona’s own namesake and mission closely mirrors this philosophy: the word means ‘every drop counts’ in Bengali, signaling the importance of every individual contribution. People can and do make a monumental difference when they utilize their time, energy, skill sets, or connections to speak up for the issues that matter.
Let’s take a look at one of the issues that matters. Although often overlooked in political matches, the candidates’ history in the philanthropic arena is of considerable value. Not only what they have done in the past, or the positions they take now, but how the candidates will conduct themselves in the future on non-profit issues is worth investigating.
Obama and Romney’s Records
President Barack Obama
He argued for and signed into law the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009, which boasted a substantial expansion on AmeriCorps’ budget and impact. Furthermore, the act created the Social Innovation Fund; it offers grants to help non-profits and expand funding to facilitate widening volunteer capacities.
Obama also completed the Promise Neighborhoods Program of 2011, a federal source for non-profits focused on disadvantaged youth. Funding is provided to aid non-profits working in tandem with schools, businesses
, and foundations that are devoted to improving young people’s opportunities in low-income, high-crime communities.
During his term as Massachusetts State Governor, Romney led a bi-partisan effort to have state governors sign a 2003 letter arguing emergency aid be given to AmeriCorps. This proposal of national service aimed to have President George W. Bush lend immediate resources to the withering program and prevent drastic cuts.
He appointed his wife Ann Romney to assume an unpaid leadership role in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This organization helps allocate federal funds to religious organizations dedicated to offering tangible social services in their communities.
Arts & Culture Support
President Barack Obama
His 2013 proposed budget includes a small increase in the budgets of the National Endowment of the Arts as well as the National Endowment for Humanities (up an additional $8 million to a total of $154 million). These independent agencies extend funding and support to projects and events based around arts, culture, theater and more. In addition, flat-spending has been stipulated for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting through 2015.
He has been chastised by the Obama camp for threatening to â€œkill Big Birdâ€ if elected as President. Romney has clearly stated his intentions several times pertaining to the National Endowment of the Arts, Humanities, and PBS, which is for severe reductions if not eliminating their federal funding entirely. He believes federal subsidies to these programs are unnecessarily wasteful in this climate of a hurt economy and rising debt.
Make Your Voice and Vote Heard
The choice cannot and will not be black and white for this upcoming election. There are things to agree and disagree on with both candidates. But keep Jolkona’s mantra close in mind over the next couple of days â€“ that every person’s voice is valuable, unique and significant. So too is your vote. Read up on your local and state officials as well; your city and state politics are just as important and relevant, if not more so!
Learn more about the Presidential candidates’ non-profit policies and beliefs over at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, an exhaustive set of news articles, resources and outreach avenues. Also check out Jolkona’s formidable and diverse project list to make your impact today. Election Day’s aftermath could very well impact these non-profits in the future.