A NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE EDITORIAL
And it’s an easy decision because it is not about Mary. It is about us.
As we look at the qualifiers in this race, we truly believe she is the only candidate with any desire to work on behalf of and represent our community. Her chief opponents Republican Bill Cassidy and the Tea Party’s Rob Maness simply cannot be trusted to fight for our interests. In fact, Cassidy has yet to show up for a debate in New Orleans at the time this editorial was written. And it is with good reason. He quite correctly surmises that he will not win (nor does he need to win) the popular vote in a largely Black, urban center like ours to pave his path to the U.S. Senate. If he doesn’t need your vote, don’t expect him to fight for what you need.
Still, we recognize many of you are concerned that Sen. Landrieu’s priorities have not always been in your best interest or that of the larger African-American community. And because you are our friends, our avid readers and supporters for almost 30 years, we’re going to be real with you—we hear you!
We understand. And we know what it feels like to have very valid concerns for your life—concerns about having enough money to feed your family and to keep a roof over your head, concerns about mounting student loan debt, high unemployment rates and low wages, real anxieties about the lack of economic opportunity and development in your neighborhood, along with utter distress about quality educational opportunities for your children and their children, and so much more. And we definitely know what it is like to wonder if any of the individuals to whom you have delivered your votes—whether they are working on Perdido Street in New Orleans, on 3rd Street in Baton Rouge, or on First Street SE in Washington, D.C.—really understand the things that trouble you day in and day out. So when you say you just can’t see where your support for any candidate has improved your life, we get it.
To be honest, we, too, have been concerned by some of Sen. Landrieu’s decisions over recent years, such as her support for the wholesale changes that have taken place in local public education under the guise of so-called reform. And we still can’t understand why she nominated Jim Letten to continue as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana after President Obama’s first win.
But we also believe that for every move we have questioned, there have been other decisions and efforts made by Sen. Landrieu that have been positive for our community. We believe that she has a genuine concern for the people of New Orleans and for our state. She has made several progressive judicial nominations, including U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown, our state’s first Black woman U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District, and Kenneth Polite as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District—a move we still believe has the potential to restore integrity and a true sense of justice to that office. We recognize what she has done to protect voting rights, strengthen Black colleges and universities, and to help our city and region recover after Hurricane Katrina.
Still, we are not here to argue whether all the good outweighs the bad. Because the vote you cast on Nov. 4 isn’t really about Sen. Mary Landrieu at all. It’s about the future of our nation. Our state’s U.S. Senate race is one of about a dozen nationwide that will decide who controls the Senate. Let’s be reminded of what is at stake here:
• If you think the last few Congressional sessions have been marked by obstructionist tactics by a Republican Party that wants nothing more than to see President Barack Obama fail even if it means our nation fails and its people hurt even more than they already are, let’s just sit back and allow them to gain control of the Senate.
• There is a Republican Party (especially its Tea Party faction) that actually would jump at the opportunity to bring absurd impeachment charges against the President if they had enough votes in the Senate to make it happen. This is not manufactured conspiracy theory. There are folk out there who hate the President, not because of his politics and his policies, but because of who he is. And they are perfectly willing to distort our political system and waste a good deal of our time and resources doing so in an effort, however futile, to bring him down.
• There is the extreme possibility of Supreme Court appointments and other important judicial appointments in the next two years that the President will have a difficult time making if he cannot count on a Democratic majority in the Senate.
Do you really want Louisiana to be the state responsible for returning control of the Senate to the Republicans? We don’t because neither Bill Cassidy Rob Maness nor any of their Republican or Tea Party partners will work for us in the U.S. Senate.
And yes, we know that there are times that many of you have questioned whether Sen. Landrieu or any of the other Democratic candidates that Black America has overwhelming aligned its interests with since the middle of the 20th century are working for us either. Even when you are at your most disgruntled with the Dems, just know that today’s Republican Party is not the party of the original New Orleans Tribune
founder Dr. Charles Roudanez. It is not the party of Lincoln. Today’s Republican Party is the party of voter suppression laws, the party of civil rights repeals, it is the party that has been so insanely weak and full of contempt that it still hasn’t gotten a lid on crazy Birthers among its ranks.
Of course, we hear your concerns. We hear you talk about them at community gatherings, over coffee with friends, in the barbershops and beauty salons. We know what they are because they are ours too. But this is about us. Casting our vote is not enough. We need to stop giving it away like a beautifully wrapped present at Christmas time, content to accept a smile and a thank you in exchange for it.
We must vow that we will do better by ourselves. It’s time out for tip-toeing and walking on eggshells with our elected officials, afraid we will hurt their feelings or raise their ire. After all, they work for us. We have to set specific goals and demand results. It’s up to us to hold our elected officials accountable at every turn. Here at The Tribune, we think that in the weeks leading up to this election we have seen and heard more of that than we have in quite some time. We hope that those lobbying for your votes have taken notice too. Let’s keep it up; and let’s not wait until election season time next time. When our elected representatives don’t come to us, let’s go to them.
And lastly, if we are really tired of the status quo, it’s up to us to cultivate and nurture young, energetic talent to usher in a new wave of political leadership. We certainly have not done nearly enough of that. And that has everything to do with us. So now is not the time to stay home, to throw up our hands, to throw away our votes and deliver our lives, our futures, and our community to someone we don’t know or trust or who even thinks enough of us to debate here.
Yes, when it comes to this U.S. Senate race, Mary Landrieu is the only choice. And she is the right choice. But it’s not about her . . . It’s about us.