Editorial: Let’s Put an End to Plantation Politics-Taking Your Base for Granted is Not the Way to Win Elections


A week after last week’s mid-term elections and many people all over the country are still trying to take stock as to what went right, what went wrong and what it means for the future. If you’re on the left  side of the political spectrum one of the over-riding concern was why the large base of young, Black and Brown folks who voted in record numbers in ’08 didn’t show up in 2010.

Now if  you listen to high-priced political consultants or the news pundits who rarely do GOTV work, they’ll tell you the drop in numbers was because ‘people don’t vote in large numbers during mid-terms’ . When pressed and asked could it be that folks felt disconnected and were enormously dissatisfied, those same consultants and pundits will try to spin it and assert: ‘These young voters were lazy they should’ve gotten off their butts and voted’ ,’They were impatient and haven’t given the President and the Democrats times to accomplish their agenda’ orThey were naive and to think political discourse would not be messy, frustrating and ugly at times. Of course the tried and true assertion is that young voters were being unrealistic with their political expectations.

The constant communication via outlets frequented by Young Voters disappeared after the 08 election. The enthusiasm young voters had for Obama dried up and never transferred over to other democrats who also ignored young voters

We say wrong answers. How about it was lack of effective communication?  Young voters weren’t being reached out to in any meaningful way?  How about much of the leadership inside the Democratic Party took those young voters for granted?  To sum up what one of the elder poll workers stated at the precinct I worked last week, ‘these young people were used and discarded’. Nobody wants to admit to that, but it’s true. That’s a hard and sobering pill for many to swallow.

Many of the young voters who rallied enthusiastically around President Obama during his historic campaign found that after January 20 2009 when he made history and was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, he would be ghost. He would do very little outreach in the same manner that attracted folks to him in the first place.i.e. he stopped making regular appearances on urban outlets and frequented by young folks. Sadly the hosts and owners of those outlets did very little to highlight and sell the policies the Obama administration was pushing.

When this has been brought to the attention of Democratic pundits and even those close to the Obama administration, instead of taking this to heart and figuring out ways to better communicate, many have become defensive and dismissive. They would resort to rattling off stale talking points about how they passed a healthcare bill and reduced student loan burdens.

These same folks would continue and arrogantly make the case that it was up to those young voters to go seek the President elsewhere on other media outlets and that he was too busy to be showing up on ‘some radio show’. In other words it was time to ‘buck up‘ as Vice President Joe Biden infamously put it. If folks kept speaking to this issue, they were then labeled the ‘professional left’ as articulated by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs calling those who expressed concerns, the 'professional left' not only angered folks but it also added to the perception that the base was being ignored

Are all those folks who are part of the base who volunteered their time and energy and offered innovative ideas being too thin-skinned? Perhaps, but so what?  President Obama has shown sensitivity and accommodated all sorts of groups who have challenging outlooks. He certainly seems to have no problem trying to sooth over angry folks in the opposition. These ‘thin-skinned’ people are voters who put him into office and after being dissed were being asked to support others Democrats so he could further his agenda…an agenda that many within the ranks were increasingly feeling disconnected from.

Were young voters being unrealistic? Not really. Why would their mindset be unrealistic when many embarked on a political journey for the first time with a man who told them to think outside the box, have high expectations and the audacity of hope?

Why would they be unrealistic when they were working with a man who is now President, but started out as a community organizer,  came from a single parent home and had a ‘funny sounding’ name?  His young base was sold on the idea that they were and did make a tremendous difference. They were sold on the concept that they were an important part of this push to change. This was inspiring and helped many to step up and do impossible for themselves during the campaign.

Unfortunately, many novices never knew about governance. Folks were eagerly waiting and yearning still to be involved and continue on. As far as they were concerned Obama left them. In his place were handlers and surrogates who seemed more interested in dampening the hope within folks versus uplifting them. Maybe it was poor communication skills. Maybe it was misguided attempts to administer ‘tough love‘. Maybe it was a case of haterism. Far too many in these political circles are cynical and seemingly want everyone around them to feel the same. Whatever the case, the enthusiasm people had for President Obama had diminished.  This made it difficult to transfer support and energy to other Democrats running in the mid-terms.

Democratic pundits seemed impervious and dismissive to the popularity of urban radio hosts like LA based Big Boy. If this is the place frequented by large numbers of young, Black and Brown voters in your base why not talk directly to that audience above beyond election time?

What seemed to be missed by Obama and his handlers was the importance of having direct exchanges with his young base. We’re not talking the last-minute flurry where he suddenly showed up at the 11th hour on radio shows like Big Boys Neighborhood and TV shows like Jon Stewart‘s Daily Show. What was needed was on going communication especially when he was pushing important issues. They seemed to not appreciate and realize by doing so it allowed each to check in and be on the same page. While it was true his base could seek him elsewhere and many did,  what was missed was the opportunity for him to dial in and genuinely know where many of these new voters were at. He needed to know where they were coming from in the midst of them witnessing the ugliness of  Tea Party, Fox News,  24-7 demonization and onslaught.

He needed to know where they were at when they saw him constantly bending over backwards and going out of his way to break bread with people, pundits and communities that were not only hostile to him, but also to the people in his base and the ideals and aspirations they held. Who could forget the frustration many had after watching president Obama lash out to Cambridge police for hemming up his friend and well-known Harvard Professor Henry LouisSkip’ Gates. When President Obama said the police acted stupidly for arresting this elder in his own home, many in his base who could relate to hearing about police over stepping their bounds cheered. At last someone in high office was calling it like it was..is how many people felt. We gave each other high fives only to turn around and let out collective groans when President Obama immediately turned around capitulated, took back his remarks and apologized after police reacted angrily.

That incident exemplifies Obama’s constant backtracking on key issues and in the face of hostile political enemies. Him not directly communicating to his base exasperated the situation and perceptions.The end result was low voter turnout while the older base of his Tea party and GOP opposition doubled their turnout.

Political analyst and radio host Robert Muhammad described the constant overlooking and slights delivered to important segments of the Democratic base is a continuation of what he called Plantation Politics

We spoke with long time political analyst and talk show host Robert Muhammad (Connect the Dots KPFT-Houston ) who lambasted Democratic leadership especially gubernatorial hopeful Bill White in Texas where Muhammad is based. He pointed out that White opted to devote, time, money and resources to try for so-called Independent voters at the expense of the much larger Black and Brown communities. This was a typical pattern nationwide.

He explained, that White was so scared to be associated with the base that he even stayed away from President Obama who enjoys tremendous popularity in those communities. The end result was long time Governor Rick Perry stomping his way to victory for a 4th term and one of White’s Democratic rivals endorsing the republic governor.

Robert Muhammad called what took place a continuation of plantation politics where Black and Brown communities are taken for granted and ignored. Efforts to connect the dots so to speak were rebuffed by those who supposedly had the expertise and ‘knew better‘. Well the dismal results speak for themselves. You can peep our interview with Robert Muhammad on Hard Knock Radio… http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/65170

Muhammad further elaborated that the vitriol and hostile reaction demonstrated during this past year harks back to the days of the Reconstruction when Black people had the most political power which set off all sorts of a rash of lynchings, killings and race riots all over the country and the eventual birth of Jim Crow laws.

What’s going in places like Texas is an emboldened far right coalition of law makers who are going all out to smash legislatively smash on marginalized communities. For example, there are lawmakers who are calling for the state to secede from the Medicaid. That seems to coincide with the new campaign to roll back Obama’s Healthcare Plan.

Texas lawmaker Debbie Riddle typifies the aggressive stances being taken by the far right. She's already introduced 6 bills designed to smash on Brown communities. She actually camped out at the state Capitol so she would be first on the floor.

Other law makers like Debbie Riddle, the crazy woman from Texas who sat up on national TV and told us to be wary of Brown people bearing Anchor and Terror Babies has camped out at the state capitol in Austin so she could submit 6 bills targeting Mexicans

Here’s what the state of Texas has in store for Brown communities as outlined by Texas Gop Vote

HB 16 – VOTER ID

Voters have been clamoring for voter ID for the past two sessions.  It was passed in the house in 2007 and in the senate until Lt. Governor Dewhurst gave Sen. Whitmire a “do over” on the vote and the Dems wheeled Sen. Gallegos into the senate floor on a gurney and let him cast the defeating vote.

In 2009 the opposite happened with the senate passing the bill and the Democrats pulling a procedural stunt to kill it in the house.

The overwhelming majority of Texas voters support voter ID.  Now it is time to pass it.

The new bill requires the voter to present a photo ID from an acceptable source, or two non-photo ID’s from an acceptable source.

Click Here for details on this bill.

HB 17 – Criminal Trespass

This bill makes the presence of an illegal alien in the state of Texas a separate offense, criminal trespass, which can be added to a charge for which a person is already being arrested.

In other words, this bill gives a police officer who is already arresting a person for some other offense (an offense for which they may arrest without a warrant) may, upon reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally, may inquire as to the suspects immigration status and if the officer can verify an illegal status with ICE, the person may be charged with the additional crime of illegal trespass.

Before and arrest can be made on this charge, the officer must verify their status with ICE.  This bill cannot be used as a reason for first contact with a suspect.

Click Here for details of this bill.

HB 18 – Eliminate Sanctuary Cities

HB 18 prohibits any city, county or other jurisdictional body from adopting a rule, order, ordinance or policy which says the entity will not fully enforce laws relating to immigrants or immigration.

The bill also cuts off state funds to any entity which adopts such a rule or policy.  It also provides the Attorney General with a process and capability to enforce this bill.

Click Here for details of this bill.

HB 19 – Driving Without a License

This bill provides penalties for a person who operates a vehicle in the State of Texas who does not have a driver’s license issue to them and provides for the impoundment of certain vehicles involved in an accident.  It raises the status of the crime to a class B misdemeanor if the driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident.

It also provides that the vehicle cannot be released from impoundment without proof of insurance.

Click Here for details of this bill.

HB 21 and HB 22 – Reporting on Illegal Aliens by State Agencies and Public Schools

These two bill are grouped together by me as they accomplish similar functions. These bill require state agencies and public schools who are providing services to illegal aliens to gather information and report this information to the state for the purpose of measuring the impact of illegal immigration as a cost to the state for providing the services described in the bills.

Click here for details on HB 21 and HB 22.

So where do we go from here? President Obama is going to have to clear the boards and re-introduce himself to his base. He’s going to have to establish solid relationships the same way he and every other politician does with other communities. He’s going to have to establish strong relationships with those who reach those communities  and be sure that folks are truly instep and not just talking a big game.

Lastly and most important President Obama will have to seriously listen to people in his base and not dismiss them. You never see him be dismissive of AIPAC or Wall Street, he shouldn’t be dismissive of those who may not have money, but people power.

President Obama will have to reflect the concerns of these communities in his rhetoric. While Health Care may have been a major accomplishment, it’s not the talking point folks are trying to hear. Tell folks how they can get a job or an apartment with messed up credit? Talk to the young base about the rash of police shootings from Oscar Grant in Oakland to Denroy Henry in New York and what can be done about them. Work with folks about how they can fend off student fee hikes. The possibilities are endless, but mark my words, if Obama and friends don’t improve on the communication tip, he will most definitely be a one term President.

Something to ponder

written by Davey D

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

12 comments on “Editorial: Let’s Put an End to Plantation Politics-Taking Your Base for Granted is Not the Way to Win Elections

  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head. These kinds of politics no virtually little to nothing help communities who are in need of help. Someone told me a great quote. “Politics is not about community service; it’s about business.”

  2. While I agree with you to an extent, have you forwarded this to the whitehouse? I think you should….i’ve taken it upon myself to INUNDATE THEM with any and all emails regarding this administration….yes, they see me as a nuisance, but I really don’t give two shyts….on the other hand, alot of so called ‘pundits’ that had the ear of the ‘young base’ really didn’t do much to get them motivated either….in some areas, 20somethings turnout was the lowest…..they may be low attention span voters, but they’re not STUPID (unlike their tea bagger counterparts)…..

  3. I got so mad half way through the article I dedcided to stop reading. I am so sick of all you whiners, first of all in order to win elections you have to get up off your butt and vote. Those of us who voted President Obama into office in 08 should have known that we were going to have to see him through. At least that is what he said, he told us over and over again that it was not going to be easy, he was going to need us to pay attention and stick with him. But how long do wie give him, not even two years to clean up whats been building up over a matter of several election cycles. If we had been paying attention then we would have seen a massive resistence campaign take place from the very beginning. The GOP along with Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Fundraiser Station FOX NEWS have been on a serious mission to distroy President Obama. They have programmed their audiences and constituents to hate this President, and some Democrats have fallen for their rhetoric. Democrats are beginning to call the President weak and their saying that he lacks leadership skills. To that I say BULL. I would argue that President Obama is the only adult in the room. All you pundits, and journalist who are dissing him I say you are the weak one, you are the one who lack leadership skills, because you as a supporter should have his back. Instead of using your pens and your mics to diss him use your tools to inspire your audiencess to move forward. It would be nice for the Black community to have something positive to show from our first and probably only Black President. We should try to build up our communites in the ways he and his wife have suggested to us through their speeches and actions.

    Any black person who have been paying attention should realaize that the powers that be will do everything humanly possible to destroy this President. YOU KNOW THAT! We as black folk have let the Tea Party people and Rush Limbaugh punk us out of the WONDERMENT we were feeling about this President. Our kids should be reciting the President’s speeches, little young black girls should be hanging on to every word Mrs. Obama utters, but yet we fall for the nasty rhetoric we hear from Conservatives and draw a different conclusion about this man who we believed in so much in 2008. Has the President changed NO ! He’s just busy trying to HEAL A BROKEN NATION!

    The President’s supporters need to get a grip and turn their anger toward the opposition, they are out to get your President …We need to have his back, not BREAK HIS BACK!

  4. I have to co-sign with edie. At this point in time, I don’t know what it will take to get folks engaged and in the process of getting things done. Tons of articles on this site (and elsewhere) that have pointed to various solutions, issues, how-to’s, and historical perspectives yet were waiting on one person to do a 24/7 media blitz to motivate the base…that’s illogical! Folks getting punked by these so-called rightwingers (and professional lefters) is hilarious…and the gnat-sized attention span don’t help matters much.

    If society’s ills along with the original weaklings of this place (teabaggers) aren’t enough motivation for the masses, a million Obama clones won’t even help. This is similar (albeit opposite) to the Bush Admin., where folks were gawking at him while you had hordes of folks doing worse damage. When you or someone spills a drink on the carpet, are you going to reach for the nearest cleaning formula and rag or are you going to wait for ServiceMasters to arrive (or call up A&E to do a “Hoarders” taping, then call)? Sounds comical, but coincide it with this issue: are you waiting for Obama to “4X4” his way through the checks & balances (executive branch vs judicial/legislative/corporations) to get things done risking collapse/impeachment or take what he’s alluded to and willing to do in the previous years along with the tons of articles on this site (and elsewhere) that have pointed to various solutions, issues, how-to’s, and historical perspectives to build a local, state, and national coalition?

  5. Well edie its too bad u stopped reading.. lets get a few things straight.. nobody who votes owes President Obama anything. He made promises that people will judge him on in terms of what he keeps and doesn’t. He’s there to serve us via his policies and people desire. If he doesn’t people can lobby, critique, agitate and advocate and with hold their vote if not satisfied.

    After 2 years of him being in office, u know what the end result was? Many of our folks did not vote and have no intention of doing so.. Their absence effects us all.. so before u get out of pocket and start calling people whiners.. make sure u know who ur talking to.. and make sure we’re clear why folks aren’t voting… The people who didn’t vote left the building..They’re not here.. so who exactly are u referring to with the lecture..those of us who did vote?

    Second pt.. This wasn’t about Black people. It was about Young voters, Black voters and Brown voters.. who showed up in record numbers in 08 and no where to be seen this time around..So maybe the Black voters needs to show racial loyalty but what abt everyone else being addressed?

    So lets look what people said: we did a study last year with UT Austin to see what people were looking for.. Folks were clear they wanted direct contact..Has that happened? or will we get another tough love speech? people wanted to more involvement how has that happened? Please lay this out.

    The WH was made aware of these concerns last year and apparently they didn’t see this as important.. Only at the 11th hr when it was looking like folks were staying home that Pres Obama decided to show up on radio shows and go to college campuses. What was he and the Dems doing all year prior to that? What town halls did they have with BET/ MTV.. on local stations about important issues that their opposition was demonizing?

    4 Billion dollars was spent on campaign ads.. what % went directly to outlets frequented by young voters. I can tell you from talking with folks in Dem strong holds.. not much and when money did come it was at the last minute, in most cases it was pulling teeth.. But this goes beyond campaign ads.. Voters been looking for something else, more engaged conversation. Now either u can deal with that and take steps like we did to help make that happen or you can stop whining about people doing what the president himself said..Hold his feet to the fire and criticize..

  6. I have sent this off and I’m getting a bunch of mucky mucks on twitter who didn’t deliver trying to explain why this was wrong….Go figure..LOL

  7. ‘these young people were used and discarded’. Nobody wants to admit to that, but it’s true. That’s a hard and sobering pill for many to swallow.

    Dave, in private everyone admits things like that. In fact it’s standard procedure. Different groups operate on a different set of assumptions within their respective disciplines.

  8. CDF u missed my point and like Edie you did not read the article..

    I said that people need to be politically engaged all year long.. this is different then the type of engagement we currently have. All of us wake up and try to make heads or tails out of social economic problem confronting them. Many have not looked toward politicians because they haven’t been trustworthy or effective as far as folks are concerned.. President Obama in 08 crystalized a move that was underway since 2000 to get at young voters… He brought to the table money and resources to execute game plans many ideally wanted to do..He got into office and then stopped. Not only did he stopped, but the party he heads, pulled back and suppressed a lot of the momentum..

    Obama opted to play the game of talking to his base at election time only and not all year long as studies and personal research has shown is needed. Its called communication.. not a 24/7 news blitz.. If Obama goes on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC why doesn’t he go on BET/ MTV and other outlets frequented by large segments of his voting base and address that audience?
    To not do so is a big miss.. and as mentioned in the article, or course folks go and see him speak in other outlets, but thats not what energizes his base… Thats proven and will be proven even more as we move into a society where media is increasing fragmented..

    Because Obama was the main draw in 08 and nothing was done in two years to transfer his popularity to other party members the weight was on him to deliver those votes why? because his party didn’t.. What about supporters and ordinary folks.. many worked in campaigns only to find their advice was not heeded.. or supported.. Some went out and ran their own people or supported more responsive candidates.. We say this DFA..(democracy for America) Doing so angered the white house…

    Others like myself, did projects at our own expense designed to educate and motivate, but those could only go so far. The lines connecting electoral politics and issues faced by the community are not always straight..so this was on those who had access to the 4 billion dollars that was used on GOTV activities and ads.. How much of those resources were devoted to one of the largest segments of his base? very little.. maybe like 3 million for all 50 states..

    So in short a we had some huge misses and need to own up to them.

    End of the day this was on Obama

  9. @DaveyD

    I get the gist of what the article and your response is saying. I just think there’s more to it than just Obama not communicating effectively.

  10. Pingback: links for 2010-11-11 | KevinBondelli.com: Youth Vote, Technology, Politics

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