Patronizing the black voters

Posted on Wednesday 22 March 2006

Since I don’t live there any more, I’ve been ever-so-slightly hesitant to write on the upcoming mayorial vote in New Orleans. It’s up to the residents – wherever they are – to choose a leader for the rebuilding.

But this transcends such parochial concerns:

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is touring Southern cities this week to rally opposition to next month’s mayoral election in New Orleans, saying too many Hurricane Katrina victims scattered around the country will be unable to vote.

Polimom’s stumped a bit here. Why is it, exactly, that Katrina victims would be unable to vote?

Jackson said the two options for casting a ballot on April 22 – voting absentee, or going back to Louisiana – violate federal law. He said the Postal Service is having trouble delivering mail, and traveling hundreds of miles to vote is a hardship on many evacuees.

So far as I know, the Postal Service is only having trouble delivering mail to New Orleans, which shouldn’t be a problem for people living in… say… Atlanta. Or Houston. Or Anchorage, for that matter. Yes, traveling hundreds of miles to vote would be a hardship; I agree totally. What I don’t see is why they would have to. Absentee voting has been the norm for many, many years for people who are not at their “legal domicile”, and I’m not seeing what’s different with this election.

Furthermore, Polimom’s troubled by the vagueness of this:

Jackson and other civil rights leaders have demanded that the election be postponed. But they have not said when they believe the balloting should be held.

Perhaps they prefer to wait until everyone has returned home to hold this election? How about 2010? (Nagin until 2010???)

It appears that the NAACP, Marc Morial, Jesse Jackson – the whole darned lot of them – are patronizing the evacuated New Orleanians terribly. They’re assuming that these voters cannot handle the mail and are incapable of following the issues or the candidates. How offensively presumptuous!

Treating black Katrina evacuees as if they are incompetent children who are unable to navigate this election exposes an entirely different side of Jesse Jackson, Bill Cosby, and everyone involved – a side that shows the ugly underbelly of ulterior motives and elitism.

New Orleanians, regardless of “color”, absolutely know what’s riding on this election. The last thing they need is somebody’s private agenda to confound the issues further.

    March 22, 2006 | 1:11 pm

    I have a separate question that’s been the topic of discussion for Crystal and I these past few weeks.

    At what point do you stop being an evacuee and have technically moved to another city? How many people are going to vote in this mayoral election that have no plans on returning?

    Imagine, for a second, if I could vote in a Houston election. Wouldn’t that concern people?

    Yes, the evacuees who plan to return should have a voice in the election, I’m not questioning that, but some clearly have started their lives elsewhere and I hope that they will allow those who are here or are returning soon to decide the election.

    Everyone wants to have their voice heard about what happened after Katrina and the ballot box is a great way to do that, but this election is about so much more than anger over the storm. I just want it to be an election for those who live in New Orleans, either literally or emotionally.

    March 22, 2006 | 1:22 pm


    The first several drafts of this particular entry included a link to (and discussion of) a recent entry by Jack Ware over at New Orleans Metroblogging. I can’t say that I agree, necessarily, with some of what came up in their dialogue, but they’ve been thrashing about on the subject enough that you might find it interesting.

    Here in Houston, I’ve read frequent stories about evacuees who plan to stay here, and it seems reasonable to me that having hung their metaphorical hats in a new home, they should not be voting Feb 22.

    But that’s just my two bits…

    March 23, 2006 | 1:42 am

    I see what you mean. While he seems to take it to the extreme and there’s a lot I disagree with in that piece, the point does remain, there is a point where you are the resident of another city and you need to accept that. I think most people are smart enough to realize that they don’t live in New Orleans anymore and that their displacement isn’t temporary, If you’re not planning on returning soon, you probably need to do some soul searching and ask yourself if you really “live” in New Orleans.

    Theoretically, in most places, you only have to live there for six months to run for office in that jurisdiction, less to vote there. If you’ve lived in another place for nine months and have no plans to return soon, should you still vote in that city’s mayoral election?

    It’s a tough question without easy answers, especially with the circumstances. But questions that have to be asked nonetheless.

    March 23, 2006 | 10:24 am

    Jackson was interviewed yesterday morning on 93.3 FM — the R&B and hip hop station. His argument was unusually lucid, that black voters have a right to vote anywhere they want to, demanding that if Iraqis and Mexicans can vote in the United States for candidates in their respective countries, that polling places should be set up for evacuated blacks to vote in New Orleans’ April 22nd municipal elections. The rhetorical charge was that “some people” would like to disenfranchise black voters from New Orleans so that they can take over the city, and that blacks have struggled too long and hard to lose that right to vote.

    But no one asked him why absentee voting wasn’t adequate.

    I’d like to hear his response.

    March 24, 2006 | 9:21 am

    I believe you’ve only scratched the surface on the issue of Patronizing.

    I left NOLA long before the hurricane hit. The primary reason I left was the attitude that certain demographics were entitled to government handouts. I never thought about why that attitude existed, I just accepted it as the way things were.

    After reading this post, I realized that, in my opinion, the attitude of entitlements has been ingrained so deeply by generations of leaders patronizing their followers that these leaders have created a following with substantial hurdles to overcome. If the followers have any hope of emerging from this “mess”, they need to recognize the patronizing for what it is.

    April 1, 2006 | 8:06 am

    This morning’s Chronicle has a story about the complete flop of the mayorial debate here in Houston;  almost nobody showed up.   In the story was this:

    “Every neighborhood needed to be turned out a certain way,” he said. “There was a certain time for phone banks, for sample ballots, a certain time to set up van rides to polls. The New Orleans political machine was as well-oiled and potent as it gets.”

    Evidently, getting the vote out in New Orleans required major intervention.

    There’s a much larger problem there that bothers me a great deal, but it does tend to explain why Jackson et al are worried. There isn’t going to be that level of handholding this time around.

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