Mitch Landrieu Wins in New Orleans

There’s a changing of the guard in New Orleans with Mitch Landrieu’s win of the mayoralty in this majority African-American city after former mayor Ray Nagin pledged that New Orleans would remain a “chocolate city”.    Apparently Landrieu rode in office on the basis of the black vote going for him making him the first white mayor since 1978. 

Not to detract from his victory, but Landrieu wound up seizing the momentum in this race by his last minute entry and the fact the none of the other nine candidates were particularly inspiring.  His main competitor dropped out of the race due to a lack of finance resources  to go the distance against him, so Landrieu saw an opportunity and seized it after having run previously and lost against  Ray Nagin.

Of course, Landrieu was also helped by conditions on the ground in New Orleans with high crime, high corruption and financial issues plaguing the city that previous African-American administrations failed to address.  

This race and the recent close race in Atlanta for the mayoralty,  could mark the beginning of a shift among African-American thinking about politics and politicians generally.  The power one has over those in political office is accountability and the only real litmus test is whether or not the political aspirant has the competencies to deliver the goods. 

Altogether too often, black folks consider it a “victory” for an African-American to get elected, and that’s understandable given the history of exclusion, but the real victory is what occurs beyond the election.   Generally, we stop and assume victory because a black politician gets elected without establishing the standards by which we’re going to hold them accountable.   Because we stop and declare victory too soon, this  effectively results in coronations of black political leaders absent the appropriate mechanisms to monitor them.  Political maturity necessitates that we focus on concepts of power and realize that the acquisition of power actually has little to do with the color of your representative.  Having African-American face (or  a white face for that matter) in office doesn’t necessarily translate into real power for the people unless that politician is held strictly to account.

As it is, we continue to celebrate  election “victories” while the cities African-Americans preside over politically continue to be economic and social basket cases.  To be sure, many walk into situations that have been screwed up by someone else, but that was known before they wanted the job, so that can’t be accepted as an excuse.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t be patient, but the bottom line is that they’ve got to execute. For that expectation to be met, victory will need to be redefined.

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3 Responses to “Mitch Landrieu Wins in New Orleans”
  1. [quote]mark the beginning of a shift among African-American thinking about politics and politicians generally[/quote]

    Brother Greg:

    I can’t agree with your analysis on this one. I have a post in draft form to document the very opposite.

    1) There were 10 candidates in the NO election. Thus the field was enough to split any concentration of opposition against Landreau that may have been in effect

    2) Blacks CONTINUE to be one of the most “nullified votes” in America. Think about it. The CLAIM is that the conservatives don’t represent the interests of the Black community and thus they don’t get our votes. This is often said but rarely inspected.

    The primary means of testing this theory is to PUT THE DEMOCRATS ON TRIAL. Observe what the Black voter does when the Democrats fail him. Your answer will be seen clearly.

    3) In New York there is a debate on who the “Blacks” should support for Governor? With Patterson “ONLY” having a 74% approval rate among Black folks – despite having somewhere near 24% among all NY’ers the political warlords are pondering what the cost of NOT supporting the eventual victor in the governor’s race – Cumo. (There is no such strategizing about what would happen if the Republican guy wins.)

    4) Recall the Atlanta mayoral race got racial. They merely attempted to paint the White INDEPENDENT candidate in this non-partisan election as a Republican

    5) The Black voter is not impacted by CRIME, Education or Economics when it comes to the Democratic Party. They will find ANOTHER DEMOCRAT to replace the FAILED DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT who can beat the Republican candidate.

    If Alabama is RACIST because only 10% of the White folks voted for Obama -what do we say about the Black voter in that he voted against McCain to the tune of 96%?

    This is a question of EQUAL EXPECTATIONS.
    While I DON’T expect the Black voter to support a party he does not like. I DO expect him to believe in his PERMANENT INTERESTS enough to repudiate the incumbent person AND his policies when he fails us.

    • Greg L says:

      CF,

      Thanks for your comments.
      Sorry about not responding more timely. I was been busy between work and a nearly a couple of feet of snow which took me away from the blog a couple of days. Anyway, here’s my response:

      >>) There were 10 candidates in the NO election. Thus the field was enough to split any concentration of opposition against Landreau that may have been in effect<<<>>Blacks CONTINUE to be one of the most “nullified votes” in America. Think about it. The CLAIM is that the conservatives don’t represent the interests of the Black community and thus they don’t get our votes. This is often said but rarely inspected.

      The primary means of testing this theory is to PUT THE DEMOCRATS ON TRIAL. Observe what the Black voter does when the Democrats fail him. Your answer will be seen clearly<<<>> In New York there is a debate on who the “Blacks” should support for Governor? With Patterson “ONLY” having a 74% approval rate among Black folks – despite having somewhere near 24% among all NY’ers the political warlords are pondering what the cost of NOT supporting the eventual victor in the governor’s race – Cumo. (There is no such strategizing about what would happen if the Republican guy wins.)<<<>>If Alabama is RACIST because only 10% of the White folks voted for Obama -what do we say about the Black voter in that he voted against McCain to the tune of 96%?<<<<

      CF, I don't know if I'd go as far as to say the vote against McCain was primie facie evidence of bias mainly because the black voter has been steadily voting against the republican presidential candidates in national contests, although Nixon and Bush 1 did better than McCain with black voters. I grew up in a Republican state (Indiana) and moderate republicans there would routinely get a decent percentage of the black vote. The same applies to folks like Kean and Whitman of New Jersey. I think it depends on the appeal of the specific republican candidate and how they reach out and connect. For the most part the republicans cede the black folk and the dems take it for granted, which effectively nullifies the vote.

      We need to put the vote in play, but to do that requres an agenda developed largely outside of the confines of the political structures IMO, but presented to them to deal with if they want the vote. The problem is that we don't have our permenant interests outlined as agenda items. Since we don't, there's a lot of BS that's offered as a substitute. (i.e photo ops, appointments for a select few blacks as window dressing and etc.)

  2. Greg L says:

    CF,

    My response got messed up. Not sure what’s happening here on WordPress.

    With respect to Landrieu, he won on the basis of the black vote breaking his way in a big way even after one of the brothers was trying to dust off the race card and raise questions about white politicians occupying positions formerly held by blacks. For sure, he won on the basis of name recognition and the lack of strong well financed opponents, but there were at least 4 African-Americans in the running with one brother kicking in $ 500 thousand of his own money to finance his campaign. Notwithstanding that, the African-American vote broke for Landrieu which implies some sort of assessment being done on a basis other than race.

    I’d agree that the black vote is often nullified in our love affair with the democratic party and it’s clear that the current political regime have failed us. But, more primary to that situation is our failure to create the structures for folks to be accountable. No one is held to account in the African-American community from the politician on down to the street pirates and when you fail to provide folks “rules of the road”, they’ll proceed with making up their own set of rules and all that’s occurs from that is chaos–and that’s what we have. More than the political party or even philosophy, we need to create accountability and start to demand that people do what works and stop doing that which has been proven not to work.

    As to Paterson, the guy is like the Titanic and I can’t figure why the hell anyone wants to ride a sinking ship. What we need to be doing is figuring out who’s likely to win and cut a deal for our support in exhange for something that’s going to address some issues. But once again, if we don’t have accountability and strategic planning in place, the only sorts of deals that get cut are for someone to get a damn job, which does absolutely nothing for anyone save the person who got the job.

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