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

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Why are People FANatic About Sports Teams..but will NOT VOTE for the Teams that control their lives?

Paradise the Arkitech

Why are people so FANatic about their meaningless local Football, Baseball and Basketball teams but will NOT VOTE for the team that controls their Jobs, Money, Housing, Education, Air, Water, Food, Transportation, Taxes, Health care, LIVES?

-Paradise Gray of X-Clan-

Words of wisdom from Paradise as we head into the home stretch of the midterm elections… Now there will be some who will cry out that voting doesn’t matter when it really does especially on local levels..We just had a serious police brutality incident in Boston.. what’s the DA gonna do about that?  We have judges who sit on the bench and rule on everything from divorce to parking tickets to you smoking weed. That same judge gets to rule on all those issues or  set  guidelines for a jury  to follow. You don’t think thats important to vote on?

You don’t like the Democrats or Republicans?… There are all sorts of third Party candidates running, why not vote for them and make a showing versus complaining that the two main parties are corrupt?

Below are several voting guides for you to look through.. One of them even allows you to make your own and share it with friends via Facebook and twitter.. Take a look at them. get informed and make a difference.

http://www.smartvoter.org/ Most comprehensive.. has all the races local, state and nationwide

http://www.votesmart.org/voteeasy/ pretty similar.. doesn’t go as deep into local city and town races…This ballot matches candidates to the issues like the death penalty or mandatory prison sentences you feel passionate about

http://theballot.org/ This ballot guide allows you to upload and put out your own..It’s designed for young adults.. pretty dope.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nQJY44GSgk

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President Obama on Jon Stewart Daily Show: He Needs to Do That More Often

Last night President Obama appeared for a full half hour on the Daily Show where he verbally jousted with host Jon Stewart and pretty much defended the record of his administration. For many who watched the show, Obama directly engaging a significant part of his base had been a long time coming. There were remnants of the hopeful feelings that so many experienced in 2008 during his historic campaign and for many that was a good thing.

It was good to hear President Obama being cheered and not jeered. It was good to see him have a conversation with a host like Stewart who resonates with a lot of the voting public who for the most part feel they been left out of the conversation. Stewart articulated a number of concerns that his audience had ranging from the issues of healthcare to how and why Obama and his administration went from ‘Hope and Change‘ to ‘Please Baby Gimme One More Chance‘ and he did it in away that was both funny but right on point. You can peep the Jon Stewart episode HERE:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/wed-october-27-2010-barack-obama

Pres Obama directly engaging many within his young,left leaning base via Jon Stewart needs to happen more often

With that being said, its hard to gauge if that will translate to votes in the 11th hour. Not sure if it’s too little too late. What needs to be underscored is the array of issues Obama’s appearance on the Daily Show brings up that go beyond the 2010 midterm elections. For starters, the hoopla around Obama coming on the Daily Show because it was the ‘first time in history‘ is not something to hang your hat on and beat your chest. It suggests that there’s been a serious neglect of the political relationship and continued courtship that was needed for the millions of young and first time voters who enthusiastically voted for him in ’08. Since he’s been president, we’ve seen Obama on all the morning network news show several times. We’ve seen him on shows like 60 Minutes. We’ve seen him go before the GOP House issues conference. We’ve even seen him on Fox NewsBret Baier where in many people’s minds he was disrespected both as a man and as president. This had not gone unnoticed by those who supported him. It made the man who came across as a smart, decisive hero to many, seem weak. Jon Stewart said it best, Obama has been ‘timid’.

President Obama more than most politicians clearly understands the importance of effective communicating. During his campaign he was everywhere. He was on the Steve Harvey radio show every week. He was on the Tom Joyner show. He sat down with MTV. He sat down with Jon Stewart. More importantly he was showing up on college campuses and large numbers of people on the campuses worked on his campaign. After the ’08 election all that seemed to disappear. Obama was a strong presence in those enclaves and quite frankly he needed to be. We needed to hear or see him those arenas articulating his position on policies, laying down challenges and marching orders and sharing his frustrations. We needed to hear him defending his policies and defending himself. We needed him to remind folks that they too needed to help with the heavy lifting and lay out some practical ways in which this could happen.

Have the millions of young voters who rode for Obama in 08 been effectively engaged? Many Democrats have been dismissive to the point of arrogance in how they should best be reached. The Obama voter in '08 is not necessarily a staunch Democratic voter in 2010

Now over the past year when I’ve had this conversation with people who are in Democratic circles it became clear there’s a huge disconnect. There’s a disconnect in many of them understanding that there were a lot of Barack Obama fans/voters who weren’t necessarily down for their local congressman, senator, mayor or whoever else was running even if they have a letter ‘D’ after their name. That’s been a hard pill for many to swallow and one that’s often met with defensive posturing that means absolutely nothing when we’ve had important races for mayoral and senate races all round the country with super low turnouts. from New York to Atlanta to Houston we’ve seen 20-26% come out and the wholesale absences of the throngs of new and first time voters who came out riding for Obama in 08. Where did they disappear to? Why did they not come out?

The excuses given are often drawn from the proverbial political consultant handbook which reads; We always have low turnout during elections where the president isn’t on the ticket. That excuse is usually accompanied by the often arrogantly stated ; “Well these young voters are lazy. They need to read the NY Times and Newsweek or watch CNN like I do if they wish to stay informed” Wrong answer folks. The response should’ve been: Lets figure out ways to better reach folks consistently through the mediums they enjoy.

In 2010 where folks tend to attach themselves to small or niche ‘information’ and ‘entertainment’ watering holes, to be dismissive of that fact and basically tell folks to ‘buck up’ as Vice President Joe Biden did the other day is why Dems are in trouble all over the country. It seems like some in leadership have forgotten that people are who they are and anyone who feels that a particular segment of the population can bring votes to the table needs to get up and meet them where they’re at. If they’re at NASCAR, church, concert  or plopped on their couch watching the Daily Show, then innovative compelling ways need to be used to reach that audience. Every other business does that so why not the Democrats?

President Obama‘s appearance with Jon Stewart was a reminder that in 2010 it’s not enough to simply show up at the 11th hour trolling for votes. It’s about having an ongoing dialogue and relationship one that’s in place before, during and after an election cycle. This is branding 101. It’s pretty basic and like it or not we now live in a society where enhancing your presence in the minds of consumers and in this case voters is paramount. As Jay-Z famously said ‘I’m a business man, I’m a BUSINESS, man. So in short, yes, I can read  about politics in the NY Times or Washington Post ? Sure I can ‘go on line and read about issues of the day at any number of sites. All the information we want is at the tip of our fingertips. However, for those who are truly in touch with their audiences the information is too much. It can be overwhelming and so direct engagement is even more important. If it was that simple and practical as surfing the web and coming away feeling empowered and connected then the topic of political engagement wouldn’t be topic. If it was that practical President Obama would not have found it necessary to go on the Jon Stewart Daily Show.

Sports writer Dave Zirin has long managed to keep folks politically engaged by connecting the dots to issues on the sports arena

Again the bottom line is everything is political including how we choose to engage folks especially on the electoral. Some like their news, views and politics in the backdrop of other things, in this case of Stewart, comedy and entertainment. Others like it served with sports as the backdrop… ala Dave Zirin and his Edge of Sports column or any number of sports stations that also carry shows like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly.. Still others like it in gender based chat fests like the View. Lets hope folks step up their interaction game beyond the 2010 midterm elections.

Lastly, for those on the receiving end of information, its important to note that the end game for many in power is to keep you dis-empowered, uninformed, distracted and politically in the dark. This is done to keep folks from being wise to their games, susceptible to lies, doublespeak and blatant falsehoods. In other words politics is often slimy and many who do dirt don’t want an informed public to hold them accountable. The fact that corporate interests have such a strong hold in the political arena should be wake up call to all of us as we see the ways in which things play out.

It’s no accident that your local urban radio station which was calling its ‘The Obama’ station in ’08 hasn’t created a forum or show or even had a single discussion on important issues impacting your day to day lives. It’s no accident that some outlets decided to to have last minute voter registration drives only after money was spent on ads, not because they saw it as a service to the community.  It’s no accident that we are hearing more about the shenanigans of actor Charlie Sheen in 5-10 minute chunks on the evening news and not who is running for mayor, city council or District Attorney in your own backyard. Commercial media is part of the corporate wave infusing itself with politics and as a result they as business have it in their interests to keep sizeable populations dumb downed so they be that pimped and exploited.

It’s also no accident that many politicians will avoid hard hitting investigative news shows like a Democracy Now, Mike Milloy Free Speech TV or Rachel Maddow for fear of being jammed up and made to address questions they’ve skirted..So yes, on many levels its up to each of us to keep ourselves informed and at the same time we will have to push and insist that folks who want your support come to where your at and not just during election time.

something to ponder

-Davey D-

PS on a side note.. if you wish to find out about all the key elections in your state, city and neighborhood, here’s the link to an incredible voting guide. It breaks down all the races and includes all the candidates, not just Republicans and Democrats. They have the folks who are running under the Green Party, Peace and Freedom and many others. This is a great resource.. hope you find it useful http://www.votesmart.org/voteeasy/