Monday, March 23, 2009

A Bright Red (updated: The Case for Federal Intervention)

To what extent do White America's voting patterns in the Presidential election of 2008 inform us about racism in America?

To what extent is a local population's diminished support for Barack Obama in 2008 compared to the level of support for John Kerry in 2004 indicative of racism? What other factors might cause a population to be more enthusiastic for Kerry in '04 than Obama in '08?

538 has an interesting new map embedded in today's post about this subject.

This map, which was spread around the internet just after election day, compares how different counties voted in '08 compared to '04.

This map, however, subtracts African Americans to show how non-blacks voted by county in '08 compared to '04.

That's a much more nuanced depiction of voting pattern.

Look at the Old Confederacy in both maps.

Swish all this around in your mouth a little while as you think about where the most strident opposition to President Obama is coming from and as you consider New Orleans' position within the state of Louisiana and Gulf South region.

Late update:

Let me cut to the chase.

When I was thinking about these maps, and often when I consider the resources required to justly and equitably rebuild this city and make it sustainable over the medium long term, I have an internal debate about the extent that federal intervention will be required.

Not just in terms of money allocated, but in terms of direct imposition of policy on states where ultraconservative state leaders further isolate poor communities from critical resources in the name of false fiscal responsibility. Sort of like Louisiana right now...

I'd like to open that up to discussion.

Is the idea of federal receivership of Orleans Parish the most disgusting thing you've ever heard? Is it a necessary evil?


Superdeformed said...

Just shows how jaded our state is with poverty. So many blame our state's problems on the black poor.

Jeffrey said...

I love the idea.

In my happy place: New Orleans becomes a free port not unlike Codrescu's recommendation after Katrina. We'll take all of our offshore royalties and charge entry for those. The only problem here is that we aren't progressive enough on our own to actually handle our own biz, even this flush with cash and without the imposed ass-backward racial politics and conservative policies of the state (or even Jefferson Parish).

The real world: we would become a special project under the federal government's "League of Beleaguered Cities" program that systematically tries to undo the centuries of disinvestment in marginalized cities that are of national significance. Start with New Orleans, make it right, then export best practices to Baltimore, Detroit, West Philly, etc.

Those are some pretty telling maps, E, and they certainly speak to the fact that our state (and even our local) leadership is not going to right the wrongs that need to be addressed in our city, and we therefore do merit some special consideration. Whether we actually go into receivership or if we're just eligible for some awesome programs (that we aren't in competition with more competently-run places for) remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

Not likely to happen. However, the special needs of the city and the inadequate response from the state should be highlighted. Maybe more stimulus money could go directly to the city if you could keep it away from Nagin. If it was handled well it could make the Governor look bad. Don Philly

Anonymous said...

Keep it away from Nagin and the Governor. All funding from the federal government should be directly overseen by the Federal government. As in, by people hired directly by the agency and overseen in a very hands on way by the Executive Branch. For example, with housing, HANO is responsible for many of the housing failures because it was "overseen" by HUD, but obviously not really managed properly, as a result of the previous Administration's neglect. With the new Administration, HUD has a renewed commitment to its purpose. Therefore, Obama should send officials from outside the city, trained in D.C. to New Orleans to oversee all federal funds and public housing programs using federal funds. They should report directly back to HUD in D.C. and bypass as much of the city's bullshit as possible and get the money straight to the people. Is this even legal? It would require the federal government spending so much money on employees and infrastructure to manage, like a city within a city, but it would be amazing if it provided a shining example of how government should run and a barrier against incompetence/corruption in one of the most important sections of social services.

E said...

It would require some level of agreement by the city and state or otherwise some sort of bizarre federal emergency order. I don't think it would be entirely necessary that the federal government take over every single thing, rather I think the way something like this would happen is through receivership of one or more troubled departments - like HANO and the NOPD. I mean, should the federal government really have control over a municipal recreation department? We're going to have to rebuild City Hall and renew the strength of our indigenous leadership somehow. I think the way to do it is to put the most troubled departments into federal receivership, empower the office of gulf coast recovery to take strong public stands on topical municipal policy matters in order to help cultivate efficiency, equality, and whatever other necessary structural changes from within the existing Councl-Mayor framework. Of course this would be after we elect a new Mayor and Council.

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