Saturday, December 06, 2008


I just cannot bring myself to vote for anyone with that party affiliation right now. I'm a little bit prejudiced, well mainly because of what Republican governance has done to this country over the last several election cycles. When I woke up this morning, I was still thinking of either abstaining or voting for Malik Rahim. I ended up voting third party under the assumption that Jefferson would win big.

This is a truly stunning result.

The Jefferson Machine has been weakened significantly over the last two years. I look at Cheryl Gray's 2007 thrashing of Jalila Jefferson for LA Senate as a demonstration of that.

Yet after he cruised through the open primary and runoff with Moreno, I just figured he'd found a way to mobilize enough voters this one last time.

Without the Obama excitement getting people to the polls, turnout was abysmal. Cao won with just over 33,000 votes. That's not very many at all, even with a smaller population.

When a Republican wins in a city that voted near 80% for Obama, when a Republican wins in a district like ours after what Republican politicians did to this country, that the race was even competitive -- what does it say about popular confidence in the local leadership class?

New Orleanians have no faith in their government.

It speaks to a stunning leadership vacuum in this city. It is our first problem, the problem we must solve before we can credibly address any other.

Eric Kleefield at Talking Points Memo is already looking at 2010:

[L]ook for the Dems to put up a strong candidate in 2010 -- maybe one who isn't under indictment -- and make this seat their top pick-up target.

What people don't realize is that there's really no such thing as "the Dems" in New Orleans. Politics here is not partisan, it's tribal.

New Orleanians do not do a good job of communicating political conditions to the rest of the country. And the rest of the country sometimes writes New Orleans off to eccentricity or to drown.

Here's an incomplete list of themes that I often write about and think about:

1. New Orleans is corrupt as hell. The incredible leadership vacuum at the municipal level has lead to the city's unsteady and vision-less gridlock.

2. There are frightening and offensive quality of life issues.

3. It is emblematic of the ultimate national disillusionment with W. Bush, who should be banished from this city for the rest of time and with the concept of American geopolitical superiority, as the Katrina response demonstrated a sobering hollowness of capability reminiscent of tales of the USSR in the '80s.

4. Recovery policy is transparently unjust, racist, trickle-down horseshit. I believe that Barack Obama can only help this place by empowering and demanding his new Recovery Czar (in whatever form) live in New Orleans, engage in policy, and take strong public positions on regional issues.

5. If New Orleans weren't so kneecapped by this three-legged stool of racism, corruption, and incompetence, it would actually be well positioned to lead on matters of urban sustainability.

6. These are the most resilient people in America, some live in spite of government and some lives to spite the government.

I'd really really love for the Dems, the national ones, to come down here and take a look at this place as a pickup target in 2010. What they're going to find out is that the investment in leadership was needed a long time ago. New Orleans was desperate for competent, progressive leadership pre. It's that much more desperate post.

I hope local Democrats take notice of the political environment; Bill Jefferson's defeat today cannot be dismissed as a full exception. He'd been indicted by the Feds, but there are many more local officials who have been indicted in the minds of the public.


Too wordy? Too preachy?
A downer? Dead-on?


Anonymous said...

This race was just one more piece of the puzzle Post-K in that it now shows that race baiting politics has lost its luster in New Orleans and that socio-economic politics has now firmly taken root. The poor & uneducated did vote for Jefferson but what was interesting in this race is that the middle class jumped voted against the black political establishment that has kept the poor african american citizenry uneducated.

You can also see definite voting patterns taking root not only in the 2nd district but in Orleans Parish as a whole. The politics of Orleans Parish have changed significantly and will continue to change to a much more pro-active & wealthier city than it has been over the last 40 years.

If you don't believe me wait until you see Arnie Fielkow win the Mayor's seat in 18 months.

As for the Democratic candidates who will run in 2010 for this seat, the Democrats better put up someone who isn't from the same old political families/dynasty (i.e. Carter/Morrell/McKenna/etc) because out of power only they don't know it yet. The Democrats better put someone in (and not some mindless twit like Virginia Boulet) that is a fresh face not a retread of the same ol same ol.

One other thing will be clear after tonight--the Vietnamese community has officially become a major political force for years to come in Orleans because this just galvanized them because now they truly believe they can start winning races in Orleans.

Can't wait to see what the political mafia's report next week in the New Orleans Tribune. Their response to this will be worth a million dollars (pardon the taxpayer pun).

Mark Folse said...

I don't think race baiting politics are over. I would not discount Malik's spoiler role in draining off people who would otherwise have voted Democratic.

I have to wonder if there was some carry over affect from the Obama victory going on. Were some voters asking themselves whether, after that bright and shinning moment in November, I have to go vote for this tired ass piece of crap again just cause he's black?

mominem said...

The Vietnamese community is still relatively small. At less than 10,000 (3-4%) it is unlikely to make significant demographic difference.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Vietnamese community is estimated to be 30,000 in Orleans Parish. Of that 19,000 currently reside in New Orleans East alone. That is a very large voting block.

Racially since Post-K this city has trended towards more anti-alphabet soup candidates and towards more good government type candidates. When you look at the areas that this district didn't include in Orleans Parish its easy to see that the dynamics of Orleans Parish have changed all the way back to 1950's type demographic voting trends.

James H said...

Well I am pretty pumped up here in North Louisiana over the win for several reasons.

That being said I hear people talking about 2010. I snot the question and real important one 2012. In fact will there be a "New Orleans" seat at all? I think it is pretty clear we are losing a Congressional seat.

There will be a huge fight up here to make sure that in the area where there was the least population loss (north Louisiana) that we are not sacrificed into huge district.

So that leaves the South. I think there will be susbstantial pressure to keep a black majority district in Louisiana so that means I guess you got to hook up New Orleans with parts of Baton ROuge.

So while we are talking 2010 it becomes a question of who will spend the money on a seat (on either the GOP or Dem Side) that might not be there or have the power of influence shift just two years later.

Tim said...

This is just another example of fear politics, at which, I submit, the Republicans have become the masters.

Ask around. The vast majority of people who pulled the lever for Cao will tell you they were voting against Jefferson. Sure, we can be happy today that Jefferson is out, but now we have a new problem--we have put ANOTHER Repubican into the house who will joyfully pursue the Republican agenda.

Two years can't come fast enough.

Problem there, though, is that in two years it will be the Democrats spreading the message of fear. They will toss some power-picked candidate at us and tell us we have no other choice but to vote Democratic so that we can get rid of the Repubican. And so it goes.

I quit voting based on fear long ago. I NEVER vote AGAINST anyone. I always vote FOR someone. And I fear not.



jehu said...

Even philly bloggers have taken note:

Clifton said...

As long as there is someone black having an argument with someone white at every single City Council meeting race will be a factor.

This election was about race but only one race was involved. This was about the black electorate of the city and their lack of confidence in their own political leaders. It happened to Cynthia Willard Lewis in the City Council runoff and it just happened to Bill Jefferson. I think there are more black people here who are tired of voting for the same people with no results. If our local media didn't address everything strictly along racial lines this would be more apparent.

My only concern is that Mr.Cao joins the section of politicians who have done nothing to address and engage the same middle class black voters that didn't show up for Jefferson. I don't know who's running for mayor yet but whoever is running needs to start doing this now if they are serious about really moving the city forward. It can't be another Uptown hero like Ron Foreman. If you decide not to engage 60% of the population then you are leaving yourself open for the race card to be played with success.

E said...

Cliff has it right.

"This was about the black electorate of the city and their lack of confidence in their own political leaders."

Certainly there are other factors at play. Jefferson didn't run a very big campaign and this contributed to low turnout. But ultimately this has much more to do with concurrent African American, progressive, and Democratic Party leadership crises than anything else.

Puddinhead said...

I guess my question would be what exactly are the issues that "the next candidate" needs to address to my middle class black neighbor next door (or next door to him, and so on down the block) that doesn't apply to me? And why "the next candidate" needs to make a blatantly racial appeal in order to be considered legitimate in the eyes of some in the first place?

E said...

What statement or comment is that in reference to, Puddinhead?

In general terms, African Americans were and are disproportionately impacted by Hurricane Katrina and by top-down post Katrina recovery policy.

Thus, there are particular concerns that politicians must specially address if they wish to engage the African American community in the political process.

Puddinhead said...

Specifically prompted by Clifton's comment about politicians (like Cao, in this case) who do "nothing to address and engage...middle class black voters".

My mostly black neighbors and I live in the Gentilly neighborhood we live in largely because (I'm guessing) we're at roughly the same income levels and this is what we've chosen at the cost that we can afford. In fact, one of my neighbors down the block holds roughly the same job as me, albeit with a different employer, so I'd assume we're fairly comparable income-wise. Squarely New Orleans middle class. We all had the same six feet or so of Lake Pontchartrain sitting in our homes for a couple of weeks. We fought the same insurance company, FEMA, SBA, and Road Home battles; in fact, the guy down the block was a few months ahead of me in getting through the insurance/FEMA/SBA/Road Home maze and getting started making progress on his home. The white family across the street from me weren't quite as lucky; they were under-insured, and rather than try to deal with Road Home they donated the property to a young relative and moved off to Texas. Unfortunately the relative has no money to put into repair so the house just sits there gutted. Also, I work in Chalmette, and I see how many of the lower-to-middle-income neighborhoods down here (that were almost entirely white) look just like my racially-mixed but majority-black Gentilly neighborhood.

I'd venture to say that most of the folks in my neighborhood, black or white, had pretty much the same experiences regarding Katrina, with income being a much more determining factor than race in setting the pace of their recovery. So I guess what I'm asking is what Katrina issues are so specific to New Orleans' black middle class but don't apply to the city's white middle class who, like myself and my family, are living in the same neighborhood and conditions?

E said...

I guess it's the difference between anecdote and statistical generalization. While many white folks did deal with the same challenges, it's hard to disagree with the fact that African American communities have had to deal with a disproportionate burden. A lot of that has to do with pre and post k policies, etc.