A New Orleans Tribune Editorial: UNITED WE STAND
Qualifying for the Feb.1 Orleans Parish election has ended. And the race has begun.
That is to say campaign ads have been launched. Glad-handing is sure to go in to overdrive. And political analysts and columnists are going to be offering their perspectives, spins and evaluations on the major races that will shape our city for the next four years and beyond. Well, here is ours.
If we know anything about political races it is this: Nothing is ever as straightforward as it might seem. Sure, there may be some back-room deal or sideline maneuver of which the general public is not aware. But when there are none, there will be conjecture—supposition, speculation and imaginings designed to make one think a conspiracy is afoot even when it does not exist. Make no mistake—it is all calculated to confuse and complicate decisions for the electorate that should be neither confusing nor complicated at all.
Despite the idle conjecture, what we are predicting here at The Tribune is that this community—the African-American community—whose numbers still constitute a majority will come together to make the best decisions for our city.
Nonetheless, Gambit political editor and columnist Clancy Dubos has gotten the ball rolling with his commentary that questions former judge Michael Bagneris’ candidacy. (FYI: We are talking about the same Clancy Dubos who wanted to keep the February 2006 election on schedule out of some so-called fear that New Orleans would look like a third world nation if the campaigning did not go on despite the fact that most of Black New Orleans was scattered across the nation.) So forgive us if there is little he can utter without forcing us to consider his ulterior motive. And we are certain he has one.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has competition. Bagneris, it appears, may be shaping up to be a formidable challenger. And Attorney Danatus King cannot be discounted. He has been a vocal and a visible figure, often challenging the powers that be and standing up for our community even when others would not. In a political climate, it is not beyond folks to attempt to discount and discredit the competition instead of focusing on issues. But newspaper columns don’t decide elections. Voters do.
Still, Dubos has questions: Why did Bagneris enter the race so late? Could it be that he was waiting on the certainty of financial backing? And who is the source of that financial backing? He even introduces unsubstantiated rumors that Bagneris, a Democrat, has been put up/backed by the Republican Party to run against Landrieu, also a Democrat.
And that might be enough to make die-hard Democrats, especially Black Democrats, upset if it were actually true . . . and if it actually mattered. We don’t know that it is true. And wait for it . . . it really does not matter. There, we said it. News flash, Black folks in New Orleans are perfectly capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time. That is to say, we can balance our interests and needs with those of others. The reality is that political campaigns—especially for top seats in city government can be costly. Few people have the personal wherewithal to finance one without backing. And at the end of the day, we could care less if Martians were putting big money behind a candidate so long as his political philosophy, platforms and plans speak to our interests. Elected officials are beholden to voters. They must answer to the people that elect them. Even if they fail to do it throughout their tenure, they have to pay the piper every four years.
Oh, and we don’t mean to slam Clancy for his commentary. Guesswork and theories have their place, to be sure. Here at The Tribune, we have our own as it relates to the possibility of political operatives with national profiles pulling the strings for certain political camps. But they are hypotheses, not facts. And much like Dubos’ postulations, they are inconsequential in the grand scheme.
Dubos commentary, we are certain, is designed to distract and deflect from the real issues New Orleans voters ought to be considering as they size up the candidates. And then when Dubos, in his vast wisdom, informs us that no one is going to be paying attention to political races during the holiday season, we are wholly convinced that his plan is to sidetrack voters.
So before we get sidelined, let us remind you of just a few of the things that actually do matter as the upcoming election season nears:
• Fifty-two percent of working-age African-American men are unemployed. (We are thinking jobless folk aren’t as distracted by Christmas and New Year’s as they are by rent, mortgages, utility bills and groceries.)
• Though it has dropped compared to last year’s numbers, so far there have been more than 150 murders in New Orleans, still saddling the city with one of the highest murder rates in the nation.
• Recovery efforts related to Hurricane Katrina will continue for the next several years, and that means there are still billions more in recovery dollars headed to our city through construction projects, coastal restoration and more. We need individuals at all levels and in all sectors of government committed to ensuring that those dollars are spent in a manner that reflects the diversity of New Orleans and strengthens the economic vitality of all of its citizenry.
• And while we recognize that neither the mayor nor city council impact what has taken place with both the Danzinger Bridge verdict and the Anthony Glover case, the grave injustices demonstrated by these recent activities ought to be foremost on the minds of New Orleanians as we look to electing officials at all levels and branches of government.
As the election date nears, The Tribune will offer its picks by way of endorsements—merely our recommendations on who we believe will be the best public servants in the various elected posts for which they have chosen to run. But today our advice is simple. It won’t change. When you fill out your absentee ballot, head out to early vote or show up at the polls on Feb. 1, Vote for yourself and for our collective community. VOTE US because United we Stand!
Don’t be fooled or swayed by the inside game. Take a serious and realistic look at your social and economic condition and decide if the status quo has worked in your favor or whether change is in order. Then vote accordingly. It’s that simple. But it takes work.
So we suggest you replace Dubos queries with a few that really matter. Whose platform and philosophy are more aligned with your own? Of the candidates, who has already shown a willingness and desire to work with and on behalf of all people of New Orleans—especially those who are all too often not offered a seat at the table? Are you better off now than you were four years ago? How have your elected officials at various levels of city government served and spoken to your needs and those of your neighbors?
We have listed the candidates (just their names and basic demographic information as they appear on the state election website) for every race with challengers on the Feb. 1 ballot. We don’t want much for Christmas. But this is a gift we would appreciate. Take the next several weeks to do some research and reflection. Dig deep. Go beyond the ads and rhetoric. Talk to friends and neighbors. For those who are already elected officials or have served in the past, research their voting records, undertakings and achievements.
You see, it doesn’t matter who is backing Michael Bagneris, Mitch Landrieu, Danatus King or anyone else for that matter because United we Stand! And while the A-B-C political organizations (BOLD, SOUL, COUP, etc) once capable of swaying elections have declined in presence and influence, there is no need to worry. Your vote is still the precious commodity that candidates will be clamoring for during this election season. Don’t let it go cheap.
Jan. 2, 2014 is the last day to register to vote. Election day is Feb. 1, 2014. Early voting takes place Jan. 18-25, 2014 (except Sunday) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the following sites:
Main Office/City Hall
1300 Perdido Street, Room 1W24
Phone: (504) 658-8300
Fax: (504) 658-8315
Branch Office/Algiers Courthouse
225 Morgan Street, Room 105
Phone: (504) 658-0195
Chef Menteur Voting Machine Warehouse Site
8870 Chef Menteur Highway
New Orleans, Louisiana 70126