We hate to see you go JB

Less than 24 hours ago I took to social media to discuss the news that Illinois gubernatorial candidate, JB Pritzker 10 years ago said some uncomplimentary, unflattering, and some might say mean-spirited things about African-American politicians and the Rev Jeremiah Wright. The comments were made during a secretly taped phone conversation with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

That Facebook conversation divined into a call for to vote for Tio Hardiman, and Pritzker being nearly as anti-Black as folk come. The Facebook thread grew by the second with few of the participants willing to acknowledge that things might have changed (for Pritzker) in the last 10 years when it comes to African Americans. The billionaire’s appearance at a news conference with several key Black aldermen and business people didn’t move his critics. If Pritzker was truly sorry for what he said, he would have stood alone at the news conference instead of being accompanied by a handful of Black aldermen and some Black business owners. Pritzker also was chastised on Facebook re his comments that he was not “his best self” on the secretly recorded conversation.  The social media questioners opined his true colors showed given he didn’t know he was being taped. And it is those true colors he will carry into the governor’s mansion if elected.

It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep will do. It jogged my memory, and caused me to recall a string of conversations with individuals who repeated what one of Pritzker’s Black campaign officials said: “We don’t need the Black Press.” It seems that someone with that kind of errant thinking should have been relieved of any campaign duties and sent home immediately. Personally, those words sting more than the utterances about Secretary of State Jessie White, former Sen. President Emil Jones, former U.S.Rep Jesse Jackson, and the esteemed Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If Pritzker doesn’t want to be perceived as insulting to Black people, why did he engage in the “Black-bashing” with Blagojevich? He could have and should have checked him and said there was nothing honorable or humorous about the situation.

Fast forward a few months and we learn that the billionaire’s campaign, which has already spent a record amount on television advertising. According to a  Chicago Sun-Times story https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/together-pritzker-rauner-spending- $120,000-a-day-on-campaign is spending more than $100,000 a day overall on advertising. Additionally, the Pritzker camp recently insulted the Black Press by 1) offering to buy a one-quarter page ad, 2) stating that the campaign wasn’t advertising in the Black Press until after the primary! Extremely pretentious of them.

Unfavorable comments about some key Black elected officials by JB Pritzker caused a number of people to identify Tio Hardiman as their top choice for the Democratic nomination.

My thinking is that there will be no after the primary for Pritzker. Over the decades the Black Press has been the go-to vehicle for candidates, Black and white, who want to and feel it is important to speak to Black voters. The ongoing cry of so many Black voters and observers is that the Dems take our vote for granted. The Pritzker campaign just cemented that notion.

A quarter-page ad in most Black newspapers costs less than a new smartphone. It is less than the cost of four new tires generally. In Chicago especially, the Black Press has been supportive of Democratic candidates over many, many years. When we marry Pritzker’s comments about a possible replacement for outgoing then-U.S. Sen.Barack Obama and his campaign’s attitude toward the Black Press it is clear it is time for him to step off of the campaign trail.

Looking from the other end of the telescope

Not too long ago I had what I will generously call a mini-epiphany. I ask you to please understand this is about elections-not partisan politics. No matter which way we look at it, the Black community et al has an abysmal voting record.
There are countless voter registration drives that don’t significantly improve outcomes
We lament poor turnout election after election. GOTV initiatives rarely produce the numbers they should. All traditional practices leave us wanting for more voters.

So, the thought occurred that MAYBE we have been looking thru the wrong end of the telescope. I am thinking it might be more beneficial to focus on why people vote, instead of the putting so much attention on the ones who don’t. We know a large cohort of Black voters show up at the polls out of respect for previous generations of African Americans who made tremendous sacrifices to gain the right for us to vote.

There also are a few who routinely succumb to peer pressure and vote because neighbors, friends, and families also vote. No doubt, there also are the voters who believe their participation will change or maintain the status quo.

While those who cast a ballot make up the minority of registered voters, they are the ones who determine what stays the same, what changes, and who gets into office. That means the majority of constituents in a ward, district, county or state must live with the will of the minority.

Have we been looking though the wrong end of the telescope on the voter participation question?

The Chicgo Board of Elections https://chicagoelections.com/en/home.html expanded early voting, did away with the requirement to give a reason for absentee voting, and now allow Saturday voting. Yet, none of these steps have pushed voting toward the upper strata. The changes were made after solid research, a lot of deliberation, and measured implementation. Primiarily though, they were made with more input from voters than non-voters.

When we have empirical data re why people don’t vote maybe then their concerns will be addressed, and the majority, rather than a minority will put elected officials in place.

Are we allowing voter suppression?

voting, voter suppression, elections

For the last three or so years, voter suppression has become a buzz term in political circles A more accurate description would be Black voter suppression. Instead of Jim Crow-era poll tax, literacy tests, and other subjective strategies for stymieing the Black vote; today we have voter ID laws, relocating polling places away from Black communities, early poll closings, and a host of other tactics. Each one is intended to ensure the Black vote doesn’t determine the outcome of an election.

If voter suppression is working, don’t we have an obligation to ask ourselves, as Black voters why?

We can counter voter suppression with planning and organizing

Can the Black community combat primarily GOP moves of closing polling places, requiring identification, and changing voting hours? Of course, we can but, why aren’t we? We know what the impediments are right now. That means we should be organizing personal transportation for those who no longer have nearby or convenient polling locations. The community also should start working to ensure that every person who doesn’t have a state ID gets one long before voting begins.

If that is not the work of organizations such as the NAACP, then surely there are community orgs that can pick up the mantle. None of the counter-actions are terribly expensive or need an organizing guru to pull off. We’ve become expert at complaining about what is being done to us, even though there was ample opportunity to blunt those actions. It is almost as though some of us enjoy being victims.

Seven decades ago and earlier,  Black people had a much, much rougher time and far fewer opportunities to vote. They seemed energized en masse at the notion someone was blocking a constitutional right. They were without all of the conveniences, resources, and laws we enjoy today. Our computer-assisted voting strategies pale in comparison to their basement meeting, word-of-mouth methods.

Voter suppression will be a movement based on sand should Black people decide to collaborate, strategize and implement several campaigns to get our souls to the polls, as the old preacher said.


Dems have tough choice in AG race

When State Sen. Kwame Raoul announced his intent last month to run for the Illinois Attorney General’s seat suddenly vacated by long-time occupant Lisa Madigan, few were surprised, and many were elated. Nearly every time there is a state-wide vacancy that is a step up from the state senior chamber, Mr. Raoul’s name is mentioned. Barbershop talk keeps the three-term senator’s name afloat whenever there are hunches about who will try to replace Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Until Ms. Madigan announced her pending departure, Mr. Raoul has politely demurred from such talks.

Ericka Herald brings an extensive resume as a corporate attorney, but no political experience.

Almost as soon as Raoul announced, the GOP countered with a rarity-an African-American female candidate. Yes,  a corporate lawyer, Ericka Harold, an accomplished corporate attorney is what they hope will be the equalizer to Mr. Raoul.

The flies in Ms. Harold’s ointment are a lack of political experience, especially when it comes to campaigning. The arduous schedule and statewide travel has been the undoing of more experienced candidates; additionally, she represents the GOP in a state is severely disappointed with its first Republican governor in two decades. Ms. Harold can be seen as the party’s willing sacrificial lamb. Her greatest challenge will be her lack of name recognition among Chicago area voters.

A second surprise candidate, this time a Democrat, Sharon Fairley entered the race at the beginning of October. Like Ms. Harold, Ms. Fairley’s political resume lacks any campaign or elected office experience. There should be little doubt that much of Ms. Fairley’s time on the path to winning the AG’s race will be fraught with defending her record as executive director of Chicago Civilian Office on Police Accountability (COPA).

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