by Jill Tubman, Sat Nov 11, 2006 at 12:38:22 PM EST
Those who know how to win are much more numerous than those who know how to make proper use of their victories.
Polybius (205 BC - 118 BC), The Histories
This week, race and politics came to a head in the 2006 elections. Chris Bowers has already written about the changing political alliances shaping up in American culture. At the crossroads of race, politics and the blogs, George Allen found his senate career cut short after his "macaca""joke" was blasted across progressive blogs. His presidential ambitions have gone up in smoke after the video found its way into the mainstream media. The macaca joke provided an perfect opportunity to remind voters about Allen's racist history and offer voters a new alternative in Senator-elect Jim Webb.
As America diversifies and the majority becomes just another minority (at least in some locations), understanding what minority voter priorities and expectations are -- and meeting at least some of them -- will be important to maintaining and building their loyalty over time.
Howard Dean knows it. Here's what he said post-election:
Yesterday was a historic night as well in the African American community. When presented with a choice, the African American community chose Democrats, because the Democratic Party respects the African American community and creates greater opportunities. We are honored that the African American community has again put their faith in the Democratic Party, and proud that Democrats continue to earn their trust. Democrats like Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Keith Ellison in Minnesota are making history."(Source: Oliver Willis)
Minority voters aren't stupid. Every major black Republican candidate who ran lost. White voters aren't stupid either.
But It's Not Over Yet
We know from the exit polls that concern about corruption was a major motivation driving voters this season. Americans will be watching to see how Democratic leadership distinguishing itself from the lying, cheating, bigoted criminals who just got ejected. There are still a few races being decided. One of them deserves national attention for its symbolism.
There's a run-off election in a district of Louisiana that might look familiar to folks. Remember Katrina? All those black people in New Orleans and selected areas desperate for help from someone. Anyone. Maybe even one of their elected representatives, for instance. Bill Jefferson (D-LA) is the incumbent from this area:LA-02.
Five days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, on September 2, 2005, Rep. Jefferson allegedly used National Guard troops to check in on his home and collect a few belongings - a laptop computer, three suitcases and a large box. By using the National Guard to visit his home and retrieve property -- at a time when the citizens of New Orleans had no such similar opportunities -- Rep. Jefferson appears to have violated House rules.
DavidNYC at the DailyKos:
Jefferson's behavior was so outrageous that the Democratic caucus, in an extremely rare move, stripped him of his committee assignment. An indictment of Jefferson looks very likely. And as one New Orleans native put it, "You find $100,000 in your freezer, I ain't voting for you." Seventy percent of the voters in Louisiana's second Congressional district apparently agree, because Jefferson carried just 30% of the vote yesterday.
Fortunately for us, Louisiana's unusual electoral system mandates a run-off between the top two finishers whenever the winner fails to reach 50%. That means we can give Jefferson the boot he so richly deserves by supporting the second-place finisher, Karen Carter.
DavidNYC puts it best:
This race matters because we need to send a strong message, a message that the Democratic Party won't tolerate corruption on either side of the aisle. Come January, we're finally going to take back the House. But before we do, we need to clean house first. And that's why the Swing State Project, DailyKos and MyDD are officially endorsing Karen Carter in her runoff on Dec. 9th.