by Marion Marks
“Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.”~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
Many Shreveport insiders feel betrayed. The Shreveport consensus in politics has gone from “the black guy can’t win” to “only the black guy can win.” What a sad generalization for a community when reading political winds becomes the superficial survey of the color of skin. If none but Baptists and Muslims ran for office, would the same divisive tone be invoked?
Cedric Glover disproved the notion with his victory in 2006 just as Obama did in 2008. And similarities of Jerry Jones and Mitt Romney were evident, as some of their loyal minions tried the race card and found it just wasn’t acceptable with a large segment of voters.
A version of history was simple after the numbers were available: Jones and Romney didn’t lose because of any lack of personal attributes or campaign skills. They didn’t lose because of their protect-the-rich-or-inside crowd, sneer-at-the-middle-working-class policies. They didn’t lose because their campaigns failed miserably at only the most basic function, turning out the vote.
No, none of that mattered. Jones and Romney lost, according to even many of insiders, because a secret was kept from them. A trap was sprung at the last moment: Black people, Hispanics, Muslims, educated whites and other segments not under the protective Republican tent get out and vote! Oh, and just in case you didn’t check, enough young people can and will vote, particularly if they feel empowered!
Large segments of eligible voters have been living among us for decades, their numbers ever increasing. And, they can and will feel enfranchised and go out to vote on Election Day if they feel like they have been respected. Simply put, there are enough eligible voters who normally feel left out of the process who can be mobilized. And in 2006 and 2008 many thought it happened in secret.
Strictly speaking, the increased voting power of minorities has been tracked and written about for years and brought to the attention of the Republican Party by Republican strategists. But, as in most places, they said, that’s not how it works here in Shreveport.
Still, it was a shock to many of the tea-leaf readers. They claimed street money, bribery, pure and simple. I believed, incorrectly, that Glover would take the high road and bring in some of the best business minds and ideas to overcome negative special-interest political deal making. However, it soon became apparent that the deals were still rolling in to pay back on many promises.
Some of the shady contracts and set asides had no basis in what was best for the city. They were all about payback. And payback was so easy in the early years that it became the norm for all operations.
The concept of “stick to the high road” died early in Glover’s administration. Many departments succeeded because of departmental leadership and the core of seasoned management in the right place to get the job done. As these seasoned professionals retired or quit the quality of services has degenerated.
So when you get right down to it, Jerry and Mitt had no chance, even though supporters raised lots of dollars and campaigned extremely hard. Glover and Obama may have been minorities, but it was the coordinated strategy and promises of more than just stuff to minorities, consequently they won. It’s as simple as seeing a coach’s good game plan or defensive strategy, and often the best plan will win!
So, believing one candidate is better for specific reasons, don’t be so quick to judge strategies based on color alone. It may be possible, even in Shreveport, to mobilize a political idea that engages voters. Sarcasm works on FaceBook, people chuckle at the coarse and intrusive invaders. Fresh ideas beyond tired rhetoric deserves an opportunity, not the race card everyone expects. Demand creativity, open the difficult, thought provoking concepts and get involved in the process.
Who knows? Shreveport may yet surprise a lot of people as the “Next Great City of the…” My apologies to those in Baton Rouge who have found brilliant ways to use our resources that make us seem so often foolish.