Political Information Clearinghouse…
Charles Rangel, the dean of the New York Congressional delegation and patriarch of the storied Harlem political machine will be challenged in 2016 for the coveted Harlem seat by Keith Wright, a longtime elected political official. Congressman Rangel has represented his congressional district since 1970, when he defeated the flamboyant and charismatic, Congressman Rev. Dr. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. From 1970 until 2002 Rangel enjoyed the political advantage of running for re-election on both the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party general election ballots. Therefore, the Congressman has only recently had political competition.
Rangel has not had political competition from within the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party never mounted a serious political opposition to him, because of the decades old strange political bedfellow relationship he enjoyed with the GOP county chairman and former NY State Senator Roy Goodman. Recently, nationals from the Dominican Republic made significant inroads as members of the Republican Party, and the Hispanic community almost put their candidate over the top in the 2014 election. Consequently, it seems that it is just a matter of a short time before there is no longer a black congressperson, representing Harlem.
It remains to be seen whether Keith Wright can improve the
future political prospects for a black congressional representative in Harlem beyond 2016. Interestingly enough, Congressman Rangel may seek another term despite being 85 years old. On the other hand it is a foregone conclusion that there will be a formidable Hispanic candidate in the race. But, wait a minute, according to informed sources other prominent community leaders are considering their political options.
Election 2016’s unfolding scenarios are presenting interesting and intriguing political developments for both political parties in the presidential race as well in Harlem’s local politics.
The political party system, by way of the Democratic and Republican elected officials and electorate, are in a general dysfunctional and disrepair for several decades. Patterns s of political dysfunction is a factor of consequence on an increasing level also voter apathy best characterizes the disposition of many American citizens. Political apathy may be most pervasive among the under forty demographic, however the aggregate situation may raise questions of government legitimacy in impacted cities, states and territories should the tread continue.
Presidential (national) elections garner the greatest voter plurality in the general election which barely exceeds the low 50 percentages. The general election voter turn-out in respective states and cities essentially mirror the national election turnout. Some argue that only 50 plus percent of those eligible to vote are in fact registered to vote. Therefore, at best the legitimacy of government and elected officials are precariously balanced.
Informal conversations at the grassroots level are occurring questioning the accountability and legitimacy of local government in impacted states and territories. In some instances the optics by way of media coverage and observable political facts on the ground give resonance to the anxiety many citizens feel about government only representing a fragment of the community.
The poor quality of elected leadership is the popular reason for poor delivery of services to communities, including education, employment, health care, lack of senior citizens and youth services, the specter of political cronyism and corruptions rounds it off. Without question a pattern of poor political leadership is a contributing factor in the problem, and the dysfunction of the Democratic and Republican Party system also plays an important part in maintaining the poor political status quo.
But, the most critical component perpetuates the problematic policies, conditions, and systems that negatively impact neighborhoods and communities is the general political resignation of citizens. The only resolution to the political problems the plague the community and general public is the “affirmative action” on the part of the average citizen. We define “affirmative action” to mean “the first person singular” YOU…
At the end of the day the citizens in the form of an informed and active electorate is the ultimate and only solution to the political dysfunction, etc. going forward. While poor political leadership, cronyism, financial mismanagement, political and official corruption may be a direct factor responsible for the political, economic and social status quo, it is the traditionally laid-back political disposition of the electorate that has the potential to change the political paradigm.
There are interesting reasons why the electorate in general is unable to develop and sustain an effective political interest group to leverage elected officials on behalf of the grassroots community. In addition to the generally apathetic disposition, there is a pervasive political orientation that electoral politics begins with the campaigning and election process, and end ends after the election and the last votes are tabulated. This is an absolutely false idea… Community and electoral politics is a 24/7 exercise and ongoing enterprise…
VOTERS ANONYMOUS POLITICAL INFORMATION CLEARINGHOUSE (VA-PIC) is focused on enhancing, supporting, and developing areas of political engagement by way of promoting the “responsibility of citizenship” in the context of voter education and application initiatives. The focus of the voter education initiative is to inspire “affirmative action” which is defined as first-person-singular, you… And the basic responsibility of citizenship is to be an informed voter in primary and general elections.
In the context of the first-person-singular you recognize that electoral politics requires more than participating in the voting process during election years, and is much more than registering as a member of a particular political party or independent (non-party) voter. Although there are varied arguments to the contrary, touting the virtues of a particular political party affiliation, it is this conventional political wisdom that is a principle factor in the dysfunctional state of party politics, and the election system in general. Hence, we advocate and promote a departure from the way we think about, organize, talk about and do electoral politics. Therefore, we advocate for the process of electoral politics in general and do not advocate any partisan political preference.
The Voters Anonymous initiative offers and “how to” template for cultivating a 24/7 political engagement framework as an aid for developing affirmative political activism. In addition to advocating and promoting individual responsibility, vis-à-vis, citizenship, VA advances the importance of “community organizing” voter education and registration. Individual political activism in conjunction with community organizations, political, civic, economic and social, are all important and they can potentially be a political factor. The bottom line being, individuals don’t impact community politics, and elected officials, organized people can be a decisive political factor, and hold elected officials accountable.
However, the dysfunctional state of the political parties, vis-à-vis, Democratic and Republican, exacerbates the problems that foster voter apathy and general lack of voter sophistication and organization. The VA initiative focuses on inspiring and facilitating a greater level of political and voter activism in the framework of citizenship responsibility. But a higher level of political and/or voter activism is meaningless, without a requisite improvement of the current state of the Democratic and Republican Parties from the grassroots level growing up… In order to improve or otherwise reform conventional political party politics, we need the fullest appreciation of the nature and history of the respective political parties.
Also, apart from the nature and history of the Democratic and Republican Parties as a general observation, electoral politics as a whole should be examined separately in terms of its nature, how it operates and its limitations. Despite the birth defect that attended the founding of America and the “New World” the advent and application of America as a Constitutional Republic is a laudable and exceptional form of representative government. Nevertheless, the state of party politics, such as it is, does not serve the honorable objectives associated with the virtues of representative and accountable government. Hence, the political party process must be tweaked to address the needs of 21st century communities, which requires a politically astute application of the community as well as the electoral political process.
A brief observation outlining the history of the Democratic and Republican Parties is useful in determining the trajectory and nature of the popular political parties that characterize America’s electoral politics. This cursory historical observation of the political parties reveals that the general public has an emotional relationship with party politics. This is the circumstance of the broad masses of American’s and it is particularly the case as it relates to the black American community. The black American community is the oldest and until recently the largest “minority” community in the United States. Yet, African Americans are a political weakling compared to other political “minority” communities in the United States in terms of political leverage. Moreover, the relationship of the black community from the 19th century to the 21st century with the Democratic and Republican Parties has been an emotional relationship.
POLITICAL PARTY OVERVIEW
Following emancipation from slavery in the late 19th century, the Republican Party was the most popular among the African American community. This was due in large part to the fact that the Republican Party founded in 1854, was established as a political party that advocated the abolition of the enslavement of Africans. President Abraham Lincoln the most prominent Republican Party member of the time is an iconic figure along with Republican Party activist Frederick Douglas, were archetypes that animated the black American community. This period is also known as “Reconstruction” and it heralded unprecedented political and economic advances of the black community at large that remain legionary when compared to the modern civil rights movement.
But, the period of “Reconstruction” which included imposition of federal troops in target states in order to enforce African American civil rights as per emancipation was short lived. The political deal that settled the election of President Rutherford Hayes in 1876, a/k/a the “great compromise,” which ended “Reconstruction” by way of removing the federal troops, that protected the civil rights of the black community. The presidential election of 1876 was essentially a tie between the Democratic and Republican candidates and the resolution of the tie became a political compromise of great controversy. At the end of the day the compromise included the ascension of Hayes (the Republican) to the presidency but, President Hayes was required to call back the federal troops protecting the rights of African Americans.
With the end of “Reconstruction” Jim Crow policies and procedures characterized by extra judicial killings, lynching, bigotry, racism and terrorism was visited on the African American community until the advent of the modern civil rights movement. The modern civil rights movement begins with the political maturity of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose mission was to end lynching, bigotry and discrimination against African Americans by way of non-violence and civil disobedience. While the earlier political and economic advancement of the African American community occurred in the political framework of the Republican Party, the modern civil rights movement was a political phenomenon that essentially occurred within the Democratic political party.
The 20 years between 1960 and 1980 was a most dynamic period in the United States in general, and it was a particularly energetic, creative and culturally and politically conscious period American African American youth and young adults. The emerging activism and consciousness in the black community collided with white liberal political forces who were wrestling for control of the national political party narrative from the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Ultimately an informal political coalition emerged, between black community as they engaged in various political endeavors and white liberal political movement expertise. However, the backdrop of this political coalition of convenience between black and white liberal political operatives dealt with a much larger, geo-political scenario. Apart from the respective parochial political objectives of the black political leadership and their white liberal counterparts, the larger geo-political scenario of the communism vs. capitalism political paradigm was pernicious, malignant and proved to be lethal to both black and white “militants” and “revolutionaries.”
Nevertheless, the convenient political coalition between the black community and white liberals were victorious in their effort to wrest control of the national Democratic Party narrative from the conservative wing of the party. The victory of the liberal wing over the conservative wing of the party was solidified in 1964 and 1965 with the passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Bills, respectively. Some of us are old enough to remember the words of President Lyndon Johnson lamenting when he signed one of the bills that the Democratic Party would loss the south as the result of the legislation. President Johns’ word were prophetic in that many former conservative Democrats migrated to the Republican Party, where they currently reside with a more sophisticated social-political agenda reminiscent of the days of old…
Now, 30 odd years subsequent to the heyday of the modern civil rights movement some suggest that the civil rights movement is the only political game in town relative to the black community forward. On the contrary, others offer a compelling argument that we are in a post civil rights period, therefore the civil rights agenda is not relevant to the 21st century needs of the black American community. While the latter argument may be persuasive no other strategic forward moving political initiative has emerged.
The conventional black political leadership, elected and unelected, celebrity leadership in entertainment and scholarship, etc. uses their respective platforms and celebrity to speak from their perch, but nothing moves beyond political rhetoric and popular hype. Interestingly enough there is little if any pertinent comments and ideas from organic representation of the grassroots black community, but the media juggernaut more often than not defined the political narrative in the framework conventional political wisdom, and the popular culture. Fortunately, advances in digital technology and the Internet have facilitated communication platforms accessible at the grassroots level. Therefore, a broad range of ideas and concepts have free access to the marketplace of public discourse…
It remains to be seen whether the civil rights agenda, such as it is, will be relevant to the political and economic needs of the black American community in the 21st century. Obviously, the civil rights leadership orthodoxy and black elected officials at the national level were inconsequential in the context of Senator Barack Obama’s winning his party’s presidential nomination in 2008. Subsequent to his nomination victory the black American leadership, elected and unelected, boarded the political train in motion.
The nomination, election and re-election of President Barack Obama is a case-in-point regarding the relative political impotence of the conventional black political leadership going forward. Moreover, there is no discernible political and economic agenda or strategy being advanced or advocated by the civil rights leadership orthodoxy and black elected leadership. But, while there is no coherent political and economic strategy to positively impact the political facts on the ground in the black community, the civil rights leadership archetype remains the perceived go to guys…