There are activities in many states that are moving toward ending or reducing felon disenfranchisement. Some state legislatures have already taken up the issue. In other state, grass roots activists are applying the pressure to their state legislatures. That's the way to get it done.
I was agreeing with Lucas O'Connors thoughts on why Obama was given a slot at the convention. I don't see anything in there that debunks my main thesis on why Obama was treated like a megastar after the convention -- specifically that he was a black Democrat who openly rejected the idea that there are racial divisions in the US.
The point is that there are divides that are not created by negative ad people, as Obama would apparently have us believe, but by various powers that be. Until I hear Obama call those people out, in public, I feel that he is working too hard to play to an audience of future presidential voters.
African-Americans are more likely to be of lower socio-economic and politcal status than whites. When John Edwards speaks of "two Americas," America #1, however exactly he defines it, is highly disproportionately black. America #2 is highly disproportionately white.
You guys are having such a great debate, I'm having trouble finding a place to jump in.
Let me sum up my response to everything that you are all saying with this:
If Ford had left his seat before the 2004 elections, so that another Democrat with no near-term state-wide office aspirations -- one who wanted to make representing his/her district priority 1 -- could take it, and THEN Ford went on to go for the Senate in '06, I'd feel very different.
I still wouldn't be excited by Ford, but at least I wouldn't feel quite so frustrated.
In the interests of brevity, I left out a discussion of James' tactics. But you're right -- his 'you're not black enough' approach to the race was disgraceful and did nothing to advance the cause of advancing the cause of black folks.
I think the answer to your question -- how do we keep campaigns more about isues than about supeficiality when one candidate holds an overwhelming advantage in financial resources -- is to advocate for public financing of campaigns with spending limits. When candidates need to spend their funds more eficiently, they'll focus their efforts on explaining their stance on the issues and much less on trying to distort the image of their opponents.
And you point to another pet issue of mine: the extent to which the money chase has screwed up campaigns. Booker shouldn't have to get in to fund-raising race with a Sharpe James in the first place. Public financing -- that's what we need. It might have kept him away from hanging out with people of such questionable (from the black Newarkan's perspective) motives in the first place.
My thing with Booker is not that I don't feel he doesn't know how to appeal to black voters. It's that he seems to be incongruously determined to make efforts at appealing to white voters who are not and can not be part of his constituency. He seems to eager to show that he can "talk to" people who ultimately should not be that important to him if his concern is the plight of the mostly-black citizens of the city of Newark.
If he had been working as hard to appeal to the business community in New Jersey, or to liberal and non-partisan think tanks, I'd back off.
Right! Instead of cowering in response to the bullies, the immigrants and their supporters took them on, head-on.
Might America have a different relationship with the Muslim world today if, post 9/11, Muslim-Amercans and South Asian-Americans had actually taken to the streets in a similar manner to demand fair treatment? Perhaps I stretch the analogy too far, but I feel there is a real lesson in here about standing up to the bully even when the odds are, on paper, stacked against you.
I agree 100% on all three points. I've always felt uncomfortable, for example, about what I've heard regarding the Mumia Abu Jamal case. I've even participated in a demonstration for a new trial for him. But I swear, if I see one more "Free Mumia" sign at an anti-war rally, or anti-anything Bush is doing rally, I'm going to scream.
Also, the nationwide, multi-city, multi-day nature was crucial. It made the protest seem even bigger than it actually was. It made the nation seem engulfed in protestors.
I feel like what happened this past week could teach the progressive community as a whole a lot about organizing effective demonstrations.