Tennessee Democracy Forum Details Link Between Economic Opportunity and Support for Democracy

October 19, 2022

Final 2022 Conversation on Democracy on October 21st with Salin Geevarghese to Focus on Economics, Race and Immigration

A new report by the Tennessee Democracy Forum details the link between economic opportunity and democracy in the state. Findings of the report, Democracy Delivers Results: Economic Opportunity and Support for Democratic Institutions in Tennessee, include:

  • 45% of eligible low-income Tennesseans failed to vote in 2020.
  • Tennessee was 46th among states in voter turnout, based on eligible population.
  • Voters in Tennessee’s nine economically “distressed” rural counties overwhelmingly backed President Trump: in the seven counties where Whites were more than 80 percent of the population, President Trump won with between 81 and 88.4 percent of the vote.
  • Yet voters in high poverty urban, Black election districts backed President Biden: President Biden won Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District, with a poverty rate of 22.2 percent and where Black are 67.6 percent of the population, with more than 78 percent of the vote.

The Democracy Forum report outlines the opportunity for bipartisan action to revitalize urban and rural high poverty communities and outlines bipartisan support among Tennessee voters for federal initiative to increase economic fairness.  The report also focuses on an example of democracy delivering results --- the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that has already provided more than $1.8 billion in funding to Tennessee.

The report will be the focus of the Democracy Forum’s final Conversation on Democracy on Friday, October 21st with Salin Geevarghese at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  Details and registration can be found at www.tndemocracyforum.org/register/.

Geevarghese grew up in Chattanooga and is a graduate of UTC.  He is the President & CEO of SGG Insight, LLC, a consulting firm offering comprehensive services to public, private, nonprofit and philanthropic sector leaders and organizations. He also serves as Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) as well as the founding Director of the Mixed-Income Strategic Alliance and its Innovation and Action Network.

From April 2014 to January 2017, Geevarghese served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after serving in other senior roles at HUD, with a focus on place-based economic development.

In addition to addressing the link between democracy and economic opportunity, Geevarghese will also reflect on some of the issues of race and immigration that he discussed in a 2020 Washington Post op-ed.

For more information on the “Conversations on Democracy'' series, go to www.tndemocracyforum.org. The Tennessee Democracy Forum is a project of ForwardTN. For more about ForwardTN go to www.forwardtn.org. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is the venue for the live presentations of Conversations on Democracy and is a partner in the series.